Sitting by the infinity pool overlooking the Bojo River Mouth at Lunhaw Farm Resort, I was fortunate enough to be able to have a one-on-one talk with the Municipal Mayor of Aloguinsan, Cynthia Moreno, about ecotourism.
Aloguinsan was not named the Ecotourism Capital of Cebu for no reason. Proof of which are the multiple international awards this quaint little town has received in the last couple of years particularly DENR’s Inang Kalikasan Award last 2013 and the PATA award for Bojo Aloguinsan Eco-Tourism Association last 2015 which bested other 26 countries in Asia-Pacific. Pretty impressive for an unheard of town.
Anyway, without further ado, here are some insights I’ve gathered from Mayor Moreno herself, which I believe should be a benchmark for all the other Philippine tourist spots who aspire to be like Aloguinsan:
ENGAGE THE COMMUNITY
Launched in June 2009, the ecotourism movement in Aloguinsan has become an economic driver at present. The task of engaging the community in Bojo River and Hermit’s Cove on promoting environmental protection from ridge to reef was not easy as it involved difficult steps. Steps such as community profiling, designing specific training modules, organizing a cooperative, mobilizing and training people for capability, then implementing and monitoring the project. Cooperation bore fruit as the local government was able to organize four communities including the habal-habal drivers and the business sector as well.
ENCOURAGE PRIDE OF PLACE
The number one pride of Aloguinsanons is their identity. Through the boost in local ecotourism, Aloguinsan became popular on social media and the Philippine map. Before, nobody knew where the town was located but now you’ll clearly see the overall difference which really gave Aloguinsanons a pride of place.
SHARE THE TOURISM PROFIT
By making the people in the community as stakeholders, they get to earn majority of the income and in turn became responsible custodians of their community, which resulted in a domino effect to other barangays, the local townsfolk and the business sector.
MAKE THE EXPERIENCE INFORMATIVE
By letting the guests learn while having fun at specific tourist attractions, they get to have a loving relationship with the place which in turn makes them responsible customers and word of mouth ambassadors. As they say, in order to protect the environment, you have to love the environment. Likewise, in order to love the environment, you have to know what the environment is all about.
That’s it strangers. Hope you learned a thing or two about sustainable ecotourism. What are you waiting for? Pack your bags and visit Aloguinsan this weekend.