I have long nurtured this idea. As a retiree, I have now the luxury of visiting a place, a tourist site, to appreciate its beauty, cultural value and historical significance. Oftentimes, I find the “stories” on many of these sites are never enough to spike enough interest even among domestic visitors like me.
There are very few good guides in the calibre of Carlos Celdran and Ivan Man Dy. A pity. Because we have so many interesting local sites worthy of a visit. And so why not beef up our core of tour guides?
It would only initially cost this administration a budget for training. A few sites may serve as “experimental centers” before the program is replicated elsewhere around the country. My own initial list includes only 5: Bacolor and Guagua in Pampanga, Taal and Balayan in Batangas, Kawit and Tagaytay in Cavite, National Museum in Manila, Calamba and Mount Makiling in Laguna. I have excluded Intramuros, Chinatown, Corregidor, and other areas already adequately covered by competent tour guides.
Untapped potentials are new, “youngish”, active retirees who can be trained as tour guides. They may even do it “for the love of country” as much as for “want to do something or to render themselves productive in old age”. But first, the training. And I don’t mean the standard training. Those history lessons come in handy but we do need GOOD STORYLINES to perk up interest. The likes of Ambeth Ocampo’s history lectures easily come to mind. WE NEED A GOOD SCRIPT. That’s what I’m saying. Not those boring spiels about dates and patriots we hardly know anything about.
After this first stage, the same “retirees” may be tapped to buddy with students in doing their guided tours. The students are trained by the same retirees, in hopes of having them take over. At the same time, these students can earn “tips” to augment their allowances. Or DOT may accredit them and give them a token salary. They can work as tour guides on weekends or students in the area may work weekdays for a couple of hours after school.
The details can be fleshed out to make this Program work. But I’m advancing the idea for the DOT to consider. The idea was hatched by this retiree who loves to travel and learned what “good stories” can do to spice up what could otherwise be a boring guided tour. I love this country, and so do many others. Perhaps there is a way we can better serve our country, if those in authority would listen?