Danielle Anne Chua

If one sees a jolly bee, one would automatically say Jollibee. 

Playing logo quizzes have been part of a typical Filipino childhood. This is where the names of the logos are usually concealed or jumbled; wherein the player will identify these based on their prior knowledge. 

While it is an undeniable source of fun, it is also equally important to tackle how logos in government agencies and organizations impact the public. 

The big deal with logos 

Logos basically represent the overall branding, mission, and vision of a certain entity or group. It is best described as “an emblem or graphic mark” that comprehensively communicates the kind of work that one does. 

Through combinations of texts, elements, and symbols, these adequately form meanings and create a sense of integrity.  One good example is the timeless logo of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) that has four circles “to signify progress through science and technology”. 

Each circle shape stands for DOST’s guiding principles namely excellence, relevance, cooperation, and cost-effectiveness. Meanwhile, each color also stands for enlightenment, progress, and for the unknown. 

In simple terms, it becomes the face of the organization and their work — making it more significant to intentionally create and launch a logo with a clear purpose.

The typical logo situation 

But what if it gets misunderstood or if it does not simply give enough justice? 

Following the unpleasant feedback and insights circulating about the newly-launched Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) logo, one might probably wonder if this is the first time. But for the Filipinos, disappointing government logos have already been a normal thing in the country. 

These sparked attention because these are said to be either a clear “downgrade from the old one”, plagiarized version, absurd usage of elements, or simply a misrepresentation itself. 

Here are just some of them. 

The downfall of gov’t logos

Pilipinas Kay Ganda (2010)

Two of DOT’s tourism campaigns definitely made it to the list because these are either similar to another logo or too demanding. 

Way back 2010, the Pilipinas Kay Ganda campaign logo was launched along with the following elements: handwritten-like font, waves, sun, coconut tree, tarsier, and the English translation. It primarily aims to showcase the natural beauty and resources in the Philippines.

Criticisms, however, claimed that it was then plagiarized from Poland’s tourism campaign. As seen in the photo, the elements were somehow similar. 

The font styles used in Pilipinas Kay Ganda and Polska were identical, as well as the blue wavy lines illustrated below the letters. In addition to this, both of these “turned the letter L into a tree trunk” — signifying both of the PH’s and Poland’s national trees coconut and oak respectively.

Debunking this allegation, DOT media relations chief Evelyn Macayayong told ABS-CBN that the logos have some resemblances in the font style but they were not exactly the same

30th Southeast Asian Games 2019 (2019)

Now showing: a logo with the circles all over. Literally. 

Remembering the history right, the Philippines was the host of the 30th SEA Games 2019 in Clark, Pampanga. Its logo has interconnected circles that specifically resembled the country’s archipelago — sparking the public attention once again. 

According to the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee Chair Alan Peter Cayetano, the circles represented the “11 countries bound together in the shape of the Philippines to symbolize that wherever and whenever the games are played, we are one and we win as one.”

But the public seemed to be unhappy about it. Some of the notable observations were the awkward placements of the circles, lack of lasting impact, unnecessary meaning-making out of a badly strategized logo. 

As this drew flak, several brands such as Angkas and Nissin Ramen rode with the controversy and mockingly released promotional materials with multiple circles. 

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (2020)

Last but not the least, the legendary eagle. 

Going with the “changing times” in mind, BSP launched a new 2020 logo featuring extremely detailed elements, particularly the open-winged gold eagle and the darker blue background. This was said to clearly represent the economic growth and financial firmness of the country.

Unfortunately, plagiarism accusations were present again. Some pointed out that the eagle element with its open wings seemed to be similar with United States Federal Reserve

Love the Philippines (2023) 

This year, DOT launched Love the Philippines tourism campaign that aims to emphasize the love and honor for the country’s culture, history, and the people. Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said that this tagline is our “love letter to the world”.

Following the immense success of the It’s More Fun in the Philippines 2012 Campaign and its well-known logo, it is evident that some of the previous elements were also used in the new one. The Barabara font, similarly known as the handwritten signages found in jeepneys, were also incorporated. 

Furthermore, the placement of words generally became the point of discussion for some. Love the Philippines seems to be a demand or a command, given the fact that the verb ‘love’ was placed first.

Aside from the logo, imagine releasing a tourism campaign video wherein the materials used are not originally shot in the Philippines; let alone that these are stock footages found on the Internet. 

It must have been a big shame. Well, such a nightmare happened in this same campaign from DOT. 

The now-deleted video contains different clips featuring tourist attractions, cultural celebrations, and festive people. It was initially deceitful; one might actually think that these were shot in the Philippines in the first viewing. 

According to the DDB Philippines, the marketing company in-charge for Love the Philippines, the said video was supposed to be a “mood video” and was only “meant to excite stakeholders”. 

Indeed, using stock footage for personal objectives is legal. But using these for promoting the Philippines, a highly breathtaking country, is a slap in the face.

PAGCOR (2023)

Of course, the 3-million peso logo. How can we forget?

PAGCOR recently launched their new corporation logo that incorporates a flame-like figure with evidently blue and red colors. According to the PAGCOR Chairman Alejandro Tengco, it “incorporates the element of fire associated with energy, inspiration, passion and transformation” that symbolizes as an ignition for progress — just like what PAGCOR commits to do in regulating casino gaming in the country. 

The graphic designer behind this controversial logo is no other than PrintPlus Graphic Services, particularly Francisco Doplon, who is also known to previously design logos of various government agencies and companies. Few notable examples were the University of Santo Tomas (UST)’ 400 Years Tongues of Fire and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) 40th Anniversary.

Although this sounds promising and credible, it is no wonder that such a logo has sparked interest and attention among the taxpayers. 

What makes the logo more questionable is its whooping rate of 3 million pesos. Later on, Tengco articulated in an interview that “Hindi lamang ₱3 million yung logo lang. There are so many other deliverables na ipagkakaloob ng designer tulad po ng mga manual,”

It also has similar relevance to some well-known logos such as LuckyMe and Petron with some internet users making that as a meme subject.

But as said earlier, this is not the first time that the government has failed to properly strategize their branding decisions and to allocate the taxpayers’ money. 

The real catch

Truly it is visible that these underwhelming government logos have been the prey for social media memes, public laugh, and even valid criticisms. But let this be a wake-up call for the government to take full accountability with maintaining the country’s good reputation, properly utilizing the taxpayers’ money, and…

…choosing the right logo to start with, please.