The work we do on the eco aspect is very close to our heart. Our business should not only be a business to us but we have to give back to the community and the environment that has accepted us so warmly.
In addition to incorporating best practices of reducing, reusing, and recycling to contribute to lowering the human destruction to our planet, the heart of Donsol Eco Tour’s eco activity is our work with the community. Far flung provincial areas in the Philippines, do not realize the importance of being eco-friendly since they have more basic things to worry about like putting food on the table. To us, being eco means knowing the problem and working on solving the problem at the root. The majority of Donsol Eco Tour’s eco-community work has been put into practice in the vicinity of our resort, Ticao Island Resort. There has been so much concentration of tourism development in Donsol, but so near Donsol is a very ecologically rich area called Ticao Island which is not getting the same support as the municipality of Donsol. With Donsol Eco Tour on Ticao Island, we wish not only to develop the tourism in the area, but to develop the tourism with the environment and the community as priority.
SO, WHAT HAVE WE DONE?
- Replanting of the mangrove forests in Brgy Tacdugan. We have tapped into the expertise and support of Siliman University for this project. Siliman University has also done various seminars/workshops with our staff and the barangay where the resort is at to tell them about the importance of the mangrove forests and how protecting the mangrove forests can help them.
- Building Tacdugan Elementary School. For this we have to thank the guests of Ticao Island Resort who have been extremely supportive in donating funds, school supplies, and books to help us build a descent school for the children of the barangay. We will be doing some renovation work in time for the new school year of 2012. In the past 2 years, we (with the support of guests and other supporters) have been consistent in providing the kids with school supplies and books. Why the children? If we get involved with the children, they realise the benefit of tourism and we hope that they will be the motivators of change to embrace diving tourism and eco-tourism instead of destroying the oceans and the eco system.
- Giving an alternate source of livelihood. Having a resort means that we hire staff from the local community. This is a basic and we would think that all resorts and commercial entities hire from the community where they are located. But we go a step further. Our resident instructors has a dive guide “scholarship” program for willing and able fishermen. With our trust to grow the diving tourism in the area, we feel that the local fishermen would be the best guides for their area. With them learning how to dive and learning how to be a dive guide, they realise the richness of their seas and realise that there is a more sustainable livelihood in tourism than fishing. Furthermore, we have been working with local boat makers in building proper dive boats and the crew of these dive boats will also be from the local community. Having more dive boats and having more people busy with the dive boats will mean that there will be less time for the fishing.
- No To Shark’s Fin Soup campaign of Ocean Geographic. We support Ocean Geographic’s “Sharks are our Friends” and “No to shark’s fin soup campaign”. In March 2012, Donsol Eco Tour, Ocean Geographic, and other NGOs in Hong Kong have joint forces in organising a trip for children from Hong Kong to Donsol to swim with the whale sharks. The realisation that “Sharks are Friends” will hopefully develop a culture of “No to shark’s fin soup”.
FUTURE PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE:
- Solid waste management projects for the community. We are currently in talks with the Eco Waste Coalition of the Philippines.
- Making Manta Bowl a marine protected area. This will take more time and more effort as there are more stakeholders to deal with here.
- Organic farming and food sustainability. Most supplies like chicken, pork, fruits, and vegetables are purchased in the main town of Ticao Island or in Legaspi City. The people in the community need knowledge and support to plant vegetables and fruit and to raise chickens and pigs for food. In due time, we hope to make planting, poultry, and such a new form of livelihood for the people in the area.
We thank those who have been supporting our projects! Donsol Eco Tour has been present on Ticao Island since 2009 and our presence has been warmly accepted mainly because of your support in making our company make our community plans a reality. Again, Thank you!