Filipino-American actress Vanessa Hudgens‘ appointment as the country’s global tourism ambassador sparked questions and suggestions among Philippine citizens.
The “High School Musical” star was granted the Global Tourism Ambassador Award by the Malacañang on March 30.
The Palace said the initiative is part of the current administration’s move to introduce the Philippines to the global community as among the top destinations for investment and tourism.
The Philippine News Agency reported that Vanessa “will take part in a range of future initiatives to promote the Philippines’ unique culture and assist the country in reaching a wider global audience, creating awareness and conveying the Philippine brand as a tourist destination.”
Vanessa’s mom is Gina Guangco, a Filipina who left the Philippines for the United States when she was 25.
Her father, meanwhile, is American-born Greg Hudgens.
Previous reports said that the former Disney star would work on a travel documentary directed by Paul Soriano, the presidential adviser on creative communications.
Vanessa described it as “an intimate look” at her experience in the Philippines “for the very first time.”
“Really just discovering this beautiful land and wonderful people and just really getting in touch with the piece of myself that has always been there, but I’ve never known intimately,” she told talk show host Boy Abunda last week.
The Hollywood actress has since visited Palawan, one of the country’s top tourist destinations. She plans to go to Cebu on her next visit.
PNA reported that Vanessa’s travel documentary would highlight her homecoming to the Philippines. The documentary also intends to reconnect her with her Filipino roots while promoting the country’s tourism industry.
While Vanessa’s fans welcomed her appointment as Philippine global tourism ambassador, it did not sit well with some Pinoys who perceived that other personalities were “better” at promoting the country.
Others thought Philippine-born Filipino-American influencer Bretman Rock was more apt for the role.
Bretman recently visited the country for his book launch and managed to tour some places like the Pinto Art Museum and some beaches.
“Dear @TourismPHL, Hear me out cos [’cause] I want to nominate singer-songwriter, actor, actress, athlete, activist, coconut water connoisseur, mascara master, and mother of chickens, @bretmanrock. We need someone proud of their Filipino roots. Otherwise, it’s just a job,” a Twitter user wrote.
“Why would y’all choose someone who doesn’t speak Tagalog, has barely gone to the Philippines, and barely mentioned her roots??? Bretman Rock was sitting right there. Rags to riches, SPEAKS TAGALOG, STILL HAS FAMILY IN THE PHILIPPINES, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!” another online user commented.
Bretman, who migrated to the United States as a kid, has always been proud of his Filipino roots.
He is known to feature Pinoy food in his vlogs, has sung “Bahay Kubo” to his international followers, dressed up as Filipino heroine Darna for Halloween, wore Filipino designers, shown love for the Netflix adaptation of “Trese,” and has spoken in Ilocano, among others.
Other online users also suggested that former 2NE1 member Sandara Park — also known as “Dara” — could also play the role of the Philippine global tourism ambassador “perfectly.”
“Sandara Park isn’t even ethnically Filipino and even she deserves this title more, lmao,” influencer Asia Jackson, whose mother is a Filipina of Igorot descent, commented.
“A global tourism ambassador should be someone who speaks proudly, knowledgeably, and authentically about the various Filipino cultures and has already been doing this type of work worldwide. This just feels so random, considering it’s literally her first time there,” she added.
Asia also shared a clip of the South Korean personality eating pork “sisig” and explaining “calamansi” to her fellow citizens.
ordering sisig, explaining what calamansi is, making sure to pair it with garlic rice, and putting it all into context for local audiences? nobody is doing it like her pic.twitter.com/xHoZJwWabI
— Asia Jackson (@aasian) March 31, 2023
Other Pinoys thought singers H.E.R., Saweetie and Bella Poarch could “represent the country” better as they are “outspoken [about] being Pinoy in the global scene.”
American rapper Saweetie, born to a Filipino-Chinese mother and African-American father, previously donned a gown representing her Black American and Filipino heritage at the Met Gala.
Singer Bella Poarch, a Philippine-born TikTok personality, previously defended the country when people bashed her for her Rising Sun tattoo.
“Y’all can attack me. I’m ok with that. But when y’all attack the Philippines and make fun of them, that’s when I lose my s*t,” she reportedly said before.
PNA reported that the government’s global tourism ambassador initiative is part of the branding campaign and marketing strategy of Soriano’s office and the tourism department aimed at attracting international tourists and pushing for the resurgence of the Philippines as a travel destination.