Disneyland in the Philippines

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Why can’t the Philippines be seriously considered as the perfect location for a fourth Asian branch of American theme park Disneyland? It’s a brilliant idea as proposed by Pampanga First District Rep. Carmelo “Tarzan” Lazatin in a letter to Robert Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company based in Burbank, California, USA. My daughter told me about this over lunch and I must confess, it was the first time I had heard about it. I only hope the Disneyland official thinks it is as good an idea as we do. Now is the perfect time for an idea like this, what with the present administration doing their best to attract foreign investment and looking for bankable ideas for local tycoons to put their money in. Putting money in our country will not only drive our economy, but will help raise the living standards of the Filipino people.

I remember a time when the Philippines was second only to Japan in terms of advancement. The peso was trading two to one for every dollar and one could buy so much with that money. The fare for commuters was only 10 centavos and a softdrink could be had for the same amount. Now, instead of advancing even further, we find ourselves having backslid to the bottom of the progressive ladder with only Myanmar (Burma) in last place behind us. But they may not stay there for long. The Burmese are slowly opening up their society and if we are not careful, we might end up being last in Southeast Asia.

But that is just a grim possibility and one we can prevent from happening. I believe we can recover from our economic woes and hopefully, in my lifetime, we can find ourselves back on the progressive economic track. There are so many possibilities for us and so many diverse attractions for local and foreign investment. However, the deterrent to this growth are the many rising costs occuring at the same time. The cost of living now in the country is increasing and prices of basic necessities like electricity are at an all time high in Asia. This is proving to be a detriment to production. In addition to high cost of electricity, labor costs are rising as well. Problems like these are becoming roadblocks to attracting investors.

What was attractive to investors before was the ease and many incentives we offer them. Now, our neighbor countries have begun offering better and more attractive incentives to get investors to put their money in those countries instead. This is truly sad because the Philippines has so much to offer to the world. The ease of doing business here is a major advantage to foreign investors due to our democratic government and our mastery of the English language. In fact, we are the third largest English speaking country in the world following the United States and Great Britain. We are not only easy to communicate with, we are a very well traveled people as well. These days the sun sets on Filipinos in every nook and cranny of the world. When my wife and I went on a cruise a couple of months ago, many of the crew members were our countrymen. It was such a delight to be with them even in the far reaches of Alaska. There was even a monument built to Dr. Jose Rizal in the heart of the city of Juneau, the capitol city of Alaska, as there is a prominent Filipino community residing there. What a surge of pride we felt seeing that. Someday should you happen to find yourself in that area, you will surely have the same feeling.

With all the conveniences and the attractions the Philippines has to offer to both foreign investors and tourists alike, it brings me back to my original thoughts of how we would be an ideal location for a new Asian Disneyland. They would fit perfectly in the 4,400 hectare main zone and the 27,600 hectare subzone in the Clark Park that Lazatin offered the Walt Disney Company. Aside from the large space, the Clark Freeport Zone is an attractive destination for the park because of the tax-free privileges given to its locators. What’s more, the Clark International Airport is the perfect place for Disneyland tourists to land that will take them straight to the park. There are also several accommodations to choose from around the area in addition to the Disney Hotels the company always builds around their theme parks. The Philippines is already a popular tourist destination in Southeast Asia and coupled with our very own Disneyland, we could really be a formidable tourist draw. It is ideal for both partners.

Plus, how many of our performers and artists leave to work in Disneyland in Hong Kong, China, and Japan. With a park right in our own shores, the Walt Disney Company would never have a shortage of English proficient professional performers and our artists need not travel too far for work, plus they would not need to learn Chinese and Japanese as they do in Disneyland parks in other countries. Our citizens and the many Disney enthusiasts in our country will no longer need to leave the Philippines to go to the theme park they love.

Hopefully it is an idea that comes to fruition. Lazatin was quoted telling Iger “together with our population of more than 90 million Filipinos, a Disneyland theme park in the Philippines could be a major income generating site for your company.” 🙄

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