Local Film Industry’s Strong Influence on Growth of Pop Culture and Local Tourism to Millennials
By: Kyna De Castro
As the local film industry continuously impress us by giving us visual materials with a not-so cliché storylines and plot twists, the demand for such materials seemed to have increased as well. Films fed our yearning hearts and soul with inspirations. Sometimes, I wonder how some of these films were able to create so much impact to a wide audience. Was it because of the story? Was it because of the character’s intimate portrayal of one’s secret reality? Or was it because of the setting and cinematography? It could have been all that I have mentioned. Most of the time, it is overlooked but the setting is just as important as the plot itself as it gives us new discoveries and perspectives of certain places and destinations.
The local film industry today seemed to have succeeded in setting some kind of formula that draws the attention of the audiences especially the millennials who are the trend-setters, the most adventurous, well-travelled and pop culture generation. Our local films now influenced the growth of pop culture tourism, as to define, “is the act of travelling to destinations featured in films, literature, music and other forms of media”. As a millennial, I can very much relate to the strong influence these films brought us. There has always been that impulse to yearn for adventures and escape our own realities just like in the movies we watched and with hope to have a story worth telling in this lifetime. We are now in the age of social media, a world of visual reality wherein everything is about aesthetics, adventure and wanderlust. Millennials became tourism advocates themselves when they get to visit or experience certain destinations that is yet to be discovered or developed for publicity on social media. However, it is a sad reality to think that the “publicity competition” is the trend set by our generation and was influenced by what we saw on screen. Millennials nowadays seem to compete with each other to show off experiencing the less mainstream destinations thus, redefining the meaning of adventure.
We may not know what had really inspired our local directors and writers to come up with such stories in those destinations, but their movies have undeniably been a very good promoter of local tourism. Based on my observation, That Thing Called Tadhana featuring Baguio and Sagada seemed to have doubled the number of people visiting there since the movie was released. “Where do broken hearts go?” has been the prime slogan and hugot of this film. It even showed us that one of the things that could heal a broken heart is by travelling. It seems to have captured the millennials’ attention as well because they are the generation in the confused state of figuring out their lives and feels deeply. The millennial audience tend to hold on to pop culture where they would see themselves in and relate to. Just recently, the film Siargao is the new talk everywhere. I haven’t seen the film yet but I heard that it is a must watch too.
As someone who works in a travel agency, I have several encounters of inquiries asking about the filming locations of certain Kdramas (namely My Love From Another Star, Love in The Moonlight, Goblin and Winter Sonata) and Kita Kita for the international tour packages, while That Thing Called Tadhana on the otherhandfor domestic tour packages. Just this week, I encountered an inquiry about Siargao. Unfortunately, we don’t have a ready tour package yet for it and I have a very limited knowledge on Siargao. Since the film’s release, it is now all over social media. If it draws people to visit Siargao, this shows how effective the pop culture as well as the social media were as a tool in promoting tourism.
As I recall some of the movies I watched in the past years, I remember how Crazy Beautiful You featured the beautiful disaster of Mt. Pinatubo in Zambales and how She's Dating The Gangster also highlighted Bicol's very own majestic Mt. Mayon in Albay. While My Ex's and Why's went to South Korea to make us have Kdrama feels, Kita Kita made our hearts break with a bittersweet love story in Japan. ABS CBN teleseryes have shown promotion of local tourism as well like featuring Baguio City in Forevermore. For some of its teleseryes, the stories have the Philippine and international setting features. To name a few, Bhutan in Princess and I, Greece in Till I Met You, San Francisco in On The Wings Of Love, Japan in Born For You and Italy in Dolce Amore.
As these films and teleseryes create a continuous bandwagon effect for millennials to yearn for those kind of adventures, let us also not forget how to be responsible travelers as well. Everyone should have also considered this kind of impact and if the local communities of those destinations are ready for the influx of tourists. After people's eyes have been opened to the beauty of Siargao, I've been seeing on social media how everyone wanted to go there. I'm pretty sure that the influx of tourist might grow sooner or later this year just like what happened in Sagada because That Thing Called Tadhana. It is now a rising concern that this small island of Siargao will soon raise its status from being a less mainstream into a mainstream destination in the years to come.
Whatever it was that made these destinations famous, settings had always played a vital role in setting the mood of the story. Even though the prime intention of the films wasn’t really to promote tourism but to connect with its audience, what really makes one visit a destination once they saw it on screen? Was it to relive moments like in the movies they saw? Or to soul search and travel with hopes that it will be just like in the movies? Our reasons may be different from the others but the impact of the film remains. Deep down we all know, we had always wanted to be in place where we can make stories of our own.