Hospitality: 1960s style

Today: when you listen to interviews done by several foreign artists that have visited our country to do concerts, all you can hear are words of praise and politeness. Most of those artists can’t  wait to come back: why? Because of our beautiful scenery, our people, our hospitality and the overall ‘Philippine Experience’. This is one of the reasons why tourism is fast becoming profitable for our country today, in the year 2010.

So.. who would’ve thought that that “hospitality” would actually be absent back in the midsixties, when one of music history’s greatest bands decided to stop by our country and perform a two concert show? The Beatles’ Manila visit has continually been regarded as one of their nightmarish experiences while touring. Some even say it was one of those experiences that prompted the extremely successful band to stop touring in 1966. The story goes like this: it was said that the First Lady of that era: the “Iron Butterfly” (you know her), supposedly invited the British rock n’roll band to a luncheon at Malacanang. Apparently the time of the luncheon was at about an hour before their first concert at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. In a nutshell, they unitentionally snubbed Mrs. Marcos and they paid for it with horrid experiences on their way to the airport so they could go back home. They weren’t even paid for the concert! How disappointing. An interview conducted the moment the Fab Four made their way back to Britain (not unscathed, mind you) showed that the experience was a dark part in their touring history. After such an experience, they vowed never to come back. That promise was fulfilled, up until the band’s breakup in 1969.

When I read about this online I was so surprised. What a far cry from today! These days, we hardly even receive any negative comments from foreign acts that visit our country. Some even vow to come back because of how much they enjoy the experience.. and then back in the dark ages of Philippine history… this is what people were like. We’re talking about the world’s best-selling band, the Beatles, icons of music, hating on our country?! How shameful.. and, to think they actually were more open compared to other acts that have come at their prime.

For example: most popular acts (Beyonce, Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, etc..) when they perform in the Philippines, they only do a one-night thing.. one concert. The Beatles actually did TWO! TWO CONCERTS! And it was all because of a tyrant and his spoiled-ass wife.. that’s why they had such a bad impression of our country. “Bad” is even an understatement. If you try looking for news clippings about the visit online you’ll find that they were treated horribly by the people, more specifically the president. Most famous acts these days actually have so much bodyguards you can hardly see them anymore! The Beatles were actually robbed of their security, and they had to wade past passengers that kicked and jostled them like they were random human beings. Isn’t that horrible? Nakakahiya, diba?

I’m just thankful that that doesn’t happen anymore. Thank God foreigners and tourists actually leave our country with a good impression: to them, we are friendly, intelligent and hospitable people. We are known for being hardworking and dilligent and reliable.. and that’s a good thing.

The Beatles’ “Manila Nightmare” was just a prime example of the cruelties of the Marcos administration. That rude tyrant actually managed to turn off foreign and local people because of how he acted. Unfortunately, though, the negative impression that the Brits had about our country doesn’t seem to have changed. For one thing, hearing Ringo Starr remark “I hated the Philippines” in the Beatles anthology video broke some hearts.

Whose hearts? Maybe the hearts of Filipino Beatles fans. One thing’s for sure, though.. if Ninoy Aquino had been president at the time and Madam Cory his first lady, the Beatles and their entourage would probably not have such a horrible impression of the Philippines. They would’ve probably come back again and again… I mean, who couldn’t resist someone as friendly and as amazingly charismatic as Corazon Aquino? I know I couldn’t.



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