Monday, May 19, 2014

The Global Water Crisis: How Much Water Do We Really Use Everyday? ⎢Take...

Sustainable tourism requires responsible use of water on a daily basis, 24/7. Start becoming a responsible consumer of this natural resource that many parts of the world doesn't have that much. Reuse water for other suitable applications. Example, use a basin to collect water while washing your hands then used it to clean toilet bowl.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ECOTOURISM: The Philippine's Under-Explored Pearl of Great Price

Located at the northeastern tip of Luzon, the Peñablanca Protected Landscape [3] is known for its countless caves and lush, fertile land. It is a verdant junction to some of the region’s greatest landscapes—the Cordillera and Sierra Madre mountains lie on its western and eastern borders, providing the perfect setting for some truly intense eco-adventures. Try your limbs at spelunking in some of the best-preserved caves this side of the province.

Get your feet wet, literally, in white-water kayaking expedition. Should you wish to keep your feet dry, there is also a host of less-hectic activities for the eco-tourist.

The Pinacanauan River is lined with the mountain edge of the Peñablanca Protected Landscape in Cagayan Valley, which houses the seven-chamber Callao caves.
One of the seven chambers of Callao cave.
The Gran Central Cordillera mountains [4] is a vast, 23,000 sq. km. portion of mountainous terrain in Northern Luzon mystified by cool foggy weather and made majestic by rice terraces. It is essentially a landlocked region with its lush valleys, and pine-covered summits making it one of the Philippines’ most popular destinations for mountaineering and other related activities. The Cordilleras are home to numerous ethnic communities—around eleven of them are in the highlands, all of them possessing their own unique cultures.

Everything that excites a mountaineer is in there—a vast terrain reaching out to the horizon, dotted with hills, mountains, streams, and rocks of all sizes from pebbles to boulders even bigger than the size of cars. Then there’s the ubiquitous sand spewed from the mouth of Mt. Pinatubo decades ago, getting into everything and everywhere else. Finally, there’s the journey itself—sixty minutes of bouncing, crushing “4x4” action, followed by three hours of trekking.

Rugged yet stunningly glorious on top, Mt. Pinatubo [6] is not for the faint of heart—you have to pay with your profuse sweat and bold guts. Devastating Central Luzon in 1991, it ejected tons of ashes and vomited raging rivers of lahar and ferocious lava but gave birth as well to tons of livelihood activities in addition to its being an ecotourism site.

The aerial view of the crater of Mt. Pinatubo
The Hundred Islands, Pangasinan
 The Hundred Islands National Park [5] is Pangasinan’s provincial pride, consisting of a small archipelago off the coast of Alaminos. Often referred to as a tiny version of the Philippines, it has more than 200 green vegetation-topped, white sand-ringed islets set amidst a brilliant backdrop of deep green-blue waters.

Climb the world’s smallest volcano or simply view it from the cool foggy slopes of nearby Tagaytay City.

Aside from being fairly challenging and rugged climb, Taal Volcano [9] is a major lesson in earth science. Situated among red oxidized soil and smoking vapour vents in the main crater, which houses a small lake of sulfur and water. Up there, the wind is cool, atmosphere calm and the view breathtaking. Such a lovely sight, one might say, belies this land’s awesome and yet violent nature.

“The Whale Shark Capital of the World” is Donsol [12], one of the 14 municipalities of Sorsogon, because of whale sharks or butanding, the largest living fish species, taking a haven in the waters of this town during summer months. It is the biggest marine attraction in the Philippines that turned Donsol into a world-class tourist destination. Whale shark interaction despite the assurance of the presence of a BOI, butanding interaction officer, and the knowledge of its being amiable will give you a formidable emotional combination of fear and thrill—an unforgettable experience you won’t forget.
Taal from the point of view of Tagaytay.
The crater lake of Taal Volcano

Butanding interaction in Donsol.
To continue...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Where Are We Going After the 5th World Ecotourism Conference?

With the theme “Marine and Coastal Ecotourism: Oceans of Uncertainties, Waves of Opportunities,” the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Malaysia-based DiscoveryMICE, an affiliate of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), organized the 5th World Ecotourism Conference held on February 20-22, 2014, in Cebu's RadissonBlu Hotel.

Among the topics discussed were the impacts of ecotourism in both the natural and the cultural environments,  the socio-economic aspects of the industry such as development of destinations, management of marine ecotourism spots, marketing, and the elimination of poverty through sustainability.

During the conference, the DOT and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) bared and launched the nine-year National Ecotourism Strategy (NES) and Action Plan, 2013-2022. The  DOT is represented by no less than its Secretary, Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. and the DENR, also its Secretary, Ramon J. P. Paje, co-sharing the chairmanship of the National Ecotourism Development Council.

During the launching ceremony, Secretary Jimenez  said that the Philippines is the perfect host to this year's conference since part of the country's National Tourism Development Plan, he says, "is to develop competitive and sustainable products and destinations which will provide economic opportunities and protect the environment." 

"It is important for the Philippines to take the lead in involving local communities and government units in (marine) conservation work, especially that the livelihood of many Filipinos are linked to the seas," he added.

Meanwhile, Secretary Paje said that due to the recent disasters devastating some parts of the country the government is compelled to step up its campaign for sustainable tourism practices that promote conservation of protected natural areas at the same time also benefiting the local economies.

The conference was attended by about 400 people in the government, the civil society, the business sector, and the academe from all over the world to discuss, share and learn sustainable development strategies they adopted in their own fields of interest and business and development activities.

Envisioning the Philippines as a globally competitive ecotourism destination with its wealth of natural beauty and cultural richness, conscious of the need to conserve, enhance, sustain and develop these assets and ensure equitable sharing of benefits among its people, the NES is aimed at "environmentally and socially responsible development that safeguards the integrity and diversity of its natural resources, provides education and enjoyment to visitors and delivers larger and more widely distributed income and employment opportunities to the local communities and their constituents, especially the women, youth, indigenous peoples, and the vulnerable groups."

Achieving its purpose begins with awareness, appreciation, and conviction on the values of pursuing ecotourism as a strategy of sustainable tourism--both in its tangible and intangible benefits in relation to achieving inclusive growth for the country. What do we need to do--what else other than to launch an information, education, and communication (IEC) campaign starting with the concerned policy and decision makers--the DMUs--in the ecotourism sites? 

Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. addresses the attendees with opening remarks.

Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje delivers his piece.

The representatives of various government agencies--international, national and local--and non-governmental organizations, involved in the organizing of the conference.

The book inscribing the NES & AP 2013-2022, a collaborative work between the DOT and the DENR in consultation with various stakeholders.

From left to right--DOT Asec. Rolando Cañizal, USec. Daniel G. Corpuz, DENR Sec. Ramon J.P. Paje, DOT Sec. Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr., DENR USec. Ernesto G. Adobo, Jr. and Director Theresa Mundita s. Lim of Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, DENR.

The conference participants