The title recognizes the Hollywood actress’ “contributions to help promote the Philippines as one of the world’s best tourism destinations.”
The Philippines offers numerous picturesque places perfect for any traveler looking for a thrilling and enjoyable getaway. For the same reason that Vanessa Hudgens believes the Philippines is a paradise waiting to be discovered. As the new tourism ambassador for the Philippines, the Filipino-American actress hopes to showcase the country’s rich heritage by retracing her Filipino roots.
On March 30, 2022, Vanessa had been appointed as the Global Tourism Ambassador for the Philippines, and she was thrilled about the opportunity.
“It’s a little bit of everything. It’s got paradise. It’s got [a] metropolitan city. It’s got kindness,” she enthusiastically expressed. “Everybody is so warm, so friendly. The people here are unique. Everyone is just so warm. I haven’t met anyone who seems like they’re not having a bad day. The hospitality is unmatched. It got wonder, and it’s just a magical place.”
The title was given by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., during a conferment ceremony at the Malacañang Palace. The title recognizes the Hollywood actress’ “contributions to help promote the Philippines as one of the world’s best tourism destinations.”
According to the Presidential Communications Office (PCO), “The initiative is a branding campaign and marketing strategy aimed at attracting international tourists as the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Creative Arts (OPACC) and the DOT (Department of Tourism) set their sights on creating opportunities to aggressively push for the resurgence of the Philippines as a travel destination.”
The High School Musical star has started working with director Paul Soriano on a travel documentary. In partnership with the tourism department, the documentary will highlight the actress’ reconnection with her Filipino roots while promoting the country’s tourist spots. The film will also feature her relationship with her Filipino mother, Gina Guangco, and sister Stella.
Gina was born in Manila, Philippines, and left when she was 25 years old, making Vanessa half-Filipino. She has always been proud of her Filipino heritage and has been talking about it in various interviews. She even shared her desire to showcase her Filipino identity in an interview with Glamour UK in 2021.
“My mom is from the Philippines, and growing up, there weren’t many women who looked like me and my mom and my family onscreen. It’s important to share all the different stories because America is a massive melting pot, [just like the] world.”
While the 34-year-old Broadway beauty admits this was the first time she had the chance to visit the country, she made it worthwhile by visiting the crystal clear lagoons of El Nido, Palawan. Aside from her plans of visiting the beautiful beaches and historical landmarks in the country, she also would like to immerse herself in Filipino culture. She particularly wants to meet with local tribal communities.
“I’m going to hang out with tribes, there’s so much to do,” she stated. “I haven’t even gone shopping!”
As she entered her mid-30s, her plans involved finding her roots and rediscovering herself, hence the trip to the Philippines. “I’m thinking about raising a family, and I wanna be able to know my heritage so that I can bring that forth and so that my kids can know their background, they can know more about their own blood.”
Meanwhile, Vanessa faced backlash on social media as many netizens deemed her unworthy of the title. Nevertheless, the actress opened up about how she struggled to find her place in Hollywood as a Fil-Am.
Even though the industry is slowly diversifying, there is still a lack of international representation, especially among the Filipino tribes. Thus, she looks forward to more opportunities to work and stay in the country to fulfill her goal of learning about the Philippines and discovering her Filipino identity.
“I already can’t wait to come back. I feel like the time that I have spent here has been so incredible and so special, but I need more time. The country is so big and has so much to offer,” she said.
Contributed by Princess Friel Lontoc
Featured photo credits to GMA News
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