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Coron, a GREEN sanctuary

 

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The following is a re-post from an article by Ms. Chit Juan, Social Enterpreneur & Sustainability advocate Managing Partner of Echo Store (see our related blog on green products & gift ideas), one of SSTDI-The Coron Initiative Resource Experts.  

CORON A green sanctuary

MANILA, Philippines – I remember Boracay in the early 1990s when it was lights out at 9 p.m., and you needed flashlights if you wanted to stroll along the shore after sunset, and resorts had ceiling fans and no air conditioning. Coron reminds me of such a time. And how I wish it would remain this way for a long time.

For daytrippers, you can dock your banca at Smith Beach where the boatmen from Al Linsangan’s cooperative will cook up a quick healthy lunch of grilled squid and local fish, and some pork too if you wish. The boatmen come to the beach complete with reusable plates and utensils so as not to litter the beach with disposable plastic utensils. And they encourage you to take as many pictures as you wish while they fix lunch.

After lunch, you board the boat to view Kayangan Lake, a steep 70-step climb in the forest where you are gifted with beautiful postcard views of the lakes of Coron. The island has many nooks and crannies, and snorkel spots like Twin Peaks, Siete Pecados, which responsible eco guides can lead you to. Beware that there are many tricycle drivers and boatmen posing as guides. There are about 40 licensed guides in Coron, and it would be more responsible to pay the proper fees for a proper guide. I wish that the local government is able to control the number of huts situated in the lake. The lake is actually best left to be managed by its original inhabitants, the Tagbanua, because they know how to preserve their environs.

You could also go by paddle boat (I do not know how long it would take to paddle from Coron town to the island though) so as not to disturb the animals that have the island as their natural habitat. Visitors should also not use insect repellents, lotions and other chemical products that could leech into the pristine waters, which are so clear you would surely be tempted to jump in.

To keep Coron as virgin as possible, a group of eco advocates have joined together to form the movement called The Coron Initiative. The movement seeks to teach tour guides to be eco guides, to teach resort owners how to buy green and serve green products, to teach boatmen how to preserve nature and to rally everyone to help save Coron from becoming another commercial destination.

A day trip may not be enough to see Coron island as it has many beaches and snorkel sites. A few more days are needed, too, to explore the rest of the Calamianes Islands – Culion, Linapacan, Coron and Busuanga – and that is just for a quickie view. Even Coron natives still have not explored all their neighboring isles.

What is important is to be a responsible tourist if we are to keep Coron and the rest of the islands pure and green. When we go on these trips, we should not expect city life and comfort. Rather, we should live as the natives do. We should all help in maintaining the peace and quiet of these islands. And of course, help in keeping it green and unadulterated.

There are eco advocates who have joined the movement and you may be better off seeing them on your visit to make sure you are with the green people:

Al Linsangan III is the community leader and head of Calamianes Culture Conservation Network Inc. He also operates responsible and eco-friendly green tours.

Hilbert Enriquez is a locavore and restaurant owner who infuses local flavor in his cuisine at Santino’s Grill.

Ivan Fernandez operates eco-friendly Coron Village Lodge and has adopted green ways like  using used cooking oil for their candles, retrofitting their lodges with eco-friendly materials, etc.

Rene Villegas shares his knowledge about Biology with the eco tour guides, promotes closed season fishing which is three days before and after the New Moon so we can save our favorite fish made into the famous lamayo danggit.

Eric Raymundo has volunteered his personal time to teach resort owners how to be energy efficient at the lowest price possible.

Caloy Libosada teaches tour guides how to be eco-friendly and how to appreciate birds and birdwatching as a tour possibility.

Chin Fernandez, another birdwatcher and Darayonan Lodge operator, promotes birdwatching tours.

PJ Aranador shares with resort developers how to be more efficient in using native materials while keeping the Tagbanua culture in their designs, rather than taking inspiration from Bali or other cultures.

Susan Santos de Cardenas is the moving force behind Sustainable Tourism initiative and has helped CCCNI find partners in the international community despite her being Japan-based.

And the chieftain himself of the Tagbanuas, Rodolfo, who joined our conference (The Green Leaders Forum last July 1 and 2, see related story) to get everyone on the same page while guiding The Coron Initiative members in respecting the ways and customs of the indigenous tribe.

There are many more advocates who can help preserve Coron and its sister islands and many more who can join the movement even while being a tourist or an investor. There are 688 more islands available for sale or investment and we wish developers would toe the line in keeping virgin islands like Coron the way they were when we found them. Let’s make it not just more fun in the Philippines, but greener too.

Take a green trip to Coron, Palawan, Philippines, site of The Coron Initiative– a UNEP APFED showcase program on Sustainable Tourism  Development & Stewardship, the Philippines’ first sustainable tourism program.  For more information and travel assistance please visit our Green Travel Exchange or contact us.   

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Educational programs for hotels, destinations – LGUs, host communities,  private stakeholders and the grassroots and tour operators with Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria. Training programs for Destinations, Hotels, Tour Operators and Industry in general include Environmental ConservationGood Governance, Climate Resilience. The objective is to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals: poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate change. WASTE TO ENERGY solutions are now offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us.

Green buying and gifts guide

Note: First published in December 2010, we have updated this blog with some news and great green items! Enjoy!

Deck the halls with boughs of holy, fa la lala… ti’s the season of extreme enterprise just like everywhere in the globe. For a non-Christian country, Japan celebrates Christmas to the max, but not for traditional or religious reasons. Not to mention that most Christmas trees and decor are depressing blue color lights, though thankfully have low energy consumption! Singapore inaugurated the Orchard Christmas light up with no less than their President, a national event to herald shopping hoarders.  In the Philippines, they put up the Yuletide trimmings as early as September, to bring the holiday cheers early amidst typhoon time. It’s simply a silly spell of trash and bash for profitable purposes. So before your Christmas becomes just a blur of stress and duress, get guided by these holiday eco ethos and lighten your impact to the environment.

eco-friendly-green-gifts

1. Buy green gifts.  Consider eco-friendly and socially-conscious products and think about impact and environment when buying gifts. Remember the environmental effort and message gives more meaning, so look for a green approach for each gift: i.e. organic products, reusable, recyclable and really useful, like products from Handmade Gallery (photo below.)

Handmade Gallery Useful Gift.

2. Reuse, reduce & recycle. Be creative in practicing these principles: reuse gift wrappers, reduce waste, recycle unused gift items and give them off. These 3Rs in gift giving is not only economical but less stressful!

Echo Store Gift Bag

3. Eco shopping bags. Bring your reusable shopping bags when heading out to your gift buying spree this season and avoid plastic bags abound. Check out these ideas from Echo Store, Serendra, Philippines.

Reusable gift box from Echo Store

Reusable Gift basket from Echo Store

Reusable Gift basket from Echo Store

4. Shop online. Save fuel and energy. Instead of charging out in traffic and lining up kilometric queues in stores, shop online instead! Items purchased online can be delivered straight to your recipient, so it can also cut down effort in personal delivery and again, fuel in driving around to give those gifts!

Save energy, avoid rush crowds, buy online!

5. Cool gift certificates. Instead of buying ordinary gifts, buy something special like a concert ticket, spa certificate, book club or gym trial and the like.  Your friend will think of you as a cool and considerate giver.

Green Gift-GCsBuy Green Gifts for a Cause.

6. Gift of charity. As a great alternative to buying another picture frame, mug or socks for the person who may not need more of the same, give them the gift of charity, a donation to an environmental project or to any other organization for the needy. Donate to these charities or purchase gift cards in their name.

Green gift giving: donate to our environmental conservation & protection educational programs.

 

7. Christmas cards from recycled paper. Thousands of cards each year are bought every yuletide season. Consider the alternative E-greeting card and if you must, buy Christmas cards from recycled paper. Think Amazon Forest and deforestation before you buy that Christmas card.

Macrame Bags made by Aeta Community
Macrame Bags made by Aeta Community

8. Biodegradable wrappers and bows.  Use recycled paper and natural materials instead of plastic or metallic wrappers and bows. Needless to say, they’re easier to dispose and less harmful to the environment. These calls again for creativity: reuse materials, or make the wrapping part of the gift, such as scarves, baskets and or reusable decorative boxes.

9. Re-chargeable batteries. When buying battery operated toys, encourage use of re-chargeable batteries; educate children as early as tots about the proper use of recharging – they’re not only eco friendly but also economical.

Handmade Gallery Holiday Centerpiece

Handmade Gallery Holiday Centerpiece

11. Live or Recycled materials instead of plastic Xmas tree. Purchase a live tree to use as Christmas tree and it doesn’t have to be a traditional fir. Santa will not scold you if you use other foliage as Christmas tree as you can re-plant them in your yard after the holidays. Besides, it serves a natural indoor air purifier. And oh, use natural décor non-plastic, non-hazardous materials and low consumption lights.

12. Avoid wasteful consumptionThink.Eat.Save. as the UNEP campaign goes. Christmas is a garbage fest. Before the gift opening and feasting begins, set up your garbage disposals accordingly – for cans, bottles, paper etc. Again, practice the pre- and post party 3Rs. Remember to be thankful, not wasteful.

Think. Eat. Save. Reduce your footprint Campaign by UNEP.

13. Last but not the least, if you are planning to spend Christmas holidays elswhere, travel green and make your vacation more meaningful with our Green Travel ideas. Support our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. – SSTDI genuine green initiatives, helping grassroot communities.

 

Genuine Green: Social equity & local economic growth, climate change solutions, the grassroots way.

Genuine Green: Social equity & local economic growth, climate change solutions, the grassroots way.

 

Christmas has almost lost its essence due to over- commercialization and excessive hype. Make your Yuletide more meaningful and less stressful. Think outside the gift box a little and you can have greener Holidays that may benefit the environment and humanity. Is your Christmas green? Share your eco holiday season tips, please add them to the comments section!

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and Management. Sustainable Purchasing: Green Supplies & Suppliers Presentation was delivered by Guest Resource person, Ms. Reena Francisco of Echo Store in Coron, Palawan, Philippines during The Coron Initiative – Capacity Building Series in 2013. 

Waste to Energy projects are also offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

 

Photo Credits: Echo Store for the Reusable Gift Packs, Gift Bags & Handmade Gallery for Holiday Centerpiece. 

Green reconstruction for Sustainability and Resilience

Green Power_Coron

Coron, Palawan, the Philippines’ top emerging tourism island destination and hometown of The Coron Initiative was devastated by the Typhoon Haiyan-Yolanda. In the rush to re-build it is critical to restore biodiversity, enhance  & protect Coron’s coastal marine environment for disaster risk reduction, climate mitigation & adaptation.

Local government units (LGUs) from barangays to municipalities and cities must think & do eco towns & smart villages that integrate the Four C’s: Climate, Connectivity, Community and Character. 

The focus is on Climate-proofing communities, ensuring that they can cope and adapt to the impacts of climate change as well as ensuring eco-friendly, low-carbon designs and utilities.

Connectivity is about low carbon public transport to enable access to livelihoods.

Community focuses on a balanced social mix – ensure a place for the most vulnerable of our grassroots and

Character is about new high design standards and maintaining  the natural sense of place.

AN OPPORTUNITY FOR CORON TO HAVE GREEN POWER
You can support grassroots families to meet climate challenge. Read this article about Re-energizing the Future by Ben Kritz in The Manila Times

The community-based Coron Sustainable Tourism Cooperative with support from The Coron Initiative & our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.  campaigned for Relief Program with the Gracetoration Christian Fellowship for the victims of this disaster, mostly the grassroots members in coastal villages, as grassroots partners on the ground also struggle to recover, try to operate back to almost normal and move forward, for a sustainable re-build and resilience.

The first priority was to seek support for Solar Power or Renewable Energy as  there is no electricity-power in Coron now and in the next months! Even before the super typhoon, Coron has an unstable power supply and Solar Power or other efficient energy source will allow the locals to recuperate the daily livelihoods of the community based tourism operations to a semblance of normal. As Coron’s Green Leader & Sustainable Tourism operator, the Coron Sustainable Tourism Cooperative together with The Coron Initiative & the Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. – SSTDI can only practice what we preach: green energy! The town and nearby villages need a minimum of clean energy supply for basic needs: communication, food supply and storage, charge LED lamps and mobile phones; provide electricity at night, pump water supply, and help us in repairs of destroyed homes and boats.

The second priority was to seek Handheld radios with Base to be distributed to boats, tricycles, vans, office and village outreach. This practical communication means will ensure savings on exorbitant cellular phone costs and faster coordination for ground logistical support of these community based tourism operations needed to survive . With these two essentials provided, we can help our fellow Coron citizens and grassroots operate normally and sustain services for tourists who continue to arrive in Coron.

To have their homes repaired, boats safely secured, and the Coron people ready to serve is the best primary assistance we can extend to the grassroots community towards recovery and resilience.

Third but not the least, they sought help re-build one of the schools in order to continue the work on Education the children about Ecological Conservation, Sustainability & Resilience to meet Climate Challenge.

Coron_Typhoon Campaign1

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

Easy to be Eco! Ways to be environment-friendly

Foreword. Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

‪‎Sustainable tourism‬ development and stewardship‬. Open to all interested on triple bottom line‬ & ‪‎social enterprises.

‪‎Sustainable tourism‬ development and stewardship‬. Open to all interested on triple bottom line‬ & ‪‎social enterprises.

Be the change that you want to see in the world” – Ghandi

Let’s start at home. Do your part to help mitigate effects of climate change, for sustainability and resilience of your ‘hood or city.

There is so much hoopla about the “rape of the ocean”, switching off lights on “Earth Hour”. We get overwhelmed by disaster news such as super typhoons, landslides due to deforestation and mountains of garbage and plastic during floods, that we are just getting confounded and confused by the day on how we can start doing our part for the earth.

Flooded coastal_village. Climate change + global warming.

We complain no end about smog and pollution, filthy floods on typhoons aftermaths, brownouts/blackouts, water shortage, epidemics and uncollected garbage, yet we do not even know where to begin to solve these “environmental” and basic utilities issues.

Every election, we try to choose public officials who are supposed to bring progress to our cities, but end up mostly with broken promises. Then, when a natural catastrophe happens, it is the only time we see them again, “working to the rescue” and aid their constituents, but mostly for publicity and ratings. We are supposed to know better.

So, how do we really begin to do our part, in being eco-friendly and help protect the environment? If Kids found organization to save endangered species and college students become “Green Ambassadors”, for sure we can do it, too! Simple, we begin at home, with our families and with our own neighborhood. Here are some easy, no-brainer, beginner eco steps:

Live frugally. Just buy the basics.

1. Live frugally.
Eco also means economic, and in these hard times, we have to learn to live simply. We don’t have to wait for a disaster (such as the Japan earthquake) to start saving electricity, water; go prudent on clothes or shoes shopping and the like. Just buy the basics.

2. Start your car pool and commute wisely. Save up on gas, parking expenses and carbon emissions with commuting. Avoid taking taxis and you will be surprised how much transport savings you will have at the end of the month.

Reduce toxins. Identify and segregate.

3. Practice proper waste segregation. Here in Tokyo, garbage will not be collected if you don’t separate correctly Avoid using plastics, BYOB. Bring your own bag. Not just to the supermarket but every time you shop. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Be an eco-model among your neighbors and teach them as well. Clean and green your neighborhood.

4. Save electricity. Un-plug all appliances including your PC when not in use. Best to use power strips for multiple appliances and un-plug these so you cut-off most if not, all at the same time. You will see a dip your electricity bill when you start doing this.

5. Save on water. During rainy season, practice rain catchment and store clean rainwater to wash your car or water your garden. This is big water savings for the next dry season!

Rainwater catchment systems

6. When going on a trip, start travelling responsibly. Pack light to avoid excess baggage fees and carbon emissions. Travel to cultural and natural sights but make sure your activities do not destroy the traditions and environment you visit. Start giving back to communities whose natural and traditional resources are threatened or endangered, or even join volunteer trips.

The Coron Initiative – volunteer vacation

7. Last but not the least, get educated, enlightened, pro-active in being green. Make sure to learn at least one sustainable tip a day. There are millions of resources online.  Yahoo Green is a great portal with many useful sources on living green,  nature, food & health, recycling, energy, technology and other essential topics. You can also follow us on Twitter for more on sustainability practices.

These may be small and simple steps, but if done altogether with your ‘hood and city, and serve as an example for your province or region, more people will take notice and before you know it, millions in the country will follow suit. When we make a  difference in our own small way, collectively, this will make a big impact and perhaps, we can convince our so called “public servants”, to start doing their jobs, too.

To know more about green, eco-friendly and sustainable practices for your community, join our Society!

Sustainability 101. Towards sustainable cities and communities

Foreword. Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

Greening a destination – for the tourism industry,  how do you make a city or host community sustainable? For real estate developers, how do you build an eco-town or sustainable subdivision? Check out the essence of a green cities and environmentally sound sites.

Sustainable Tourism, Socio Cultural Responsbility & Environmental Conservation Capacity Building & Training Program.

The Coron Initiative – Sustainable Tourism development and stewardship for Coron & Calamianes Islands.

 

For simplicity, we are using the UN’s definition of sustainability: A sustainable society meets the needs of the present without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainability Triple Bottom Line graphic: People, Planet, Profit.

Triple Bottom Line graphic: People, Planet, Profit.

According to Wikipedia a sustainable city, is a city designed with consideration of environmental impact, inhabited by people dedicated to minimize the use of energy, water and food, and production of heat, air pollution – CO2, methane and water pollution.

Cities or towns compete with each other globally for the attention of investors. Almost every municipality sites sustainability as one of its key targets, but it is often not clear as to how this declaration translates into action, or if the actions that are taken go beyond green window dressing.

Bacolod City: green or green window dressing?

The first step when steering towards urban sustainability is visible greening: planting trees, promoting subsistence gardening or saving wetlands for birds.

Will DSB – Don Salvador Benedicto keep it green? Keep off greed?

The next steps environmental measures which bring social and economic benefits. Health concerns must put emphasis on quality of water, provision of ecological waste management and cleaner energy.

The Coron Initiative – the framework to a sustainable destination

Waste management can also turn into business, when sorting produces material for local crafts and bio waste becomes a source of energy. Clogged sewers lead to a ban on plastic bags while lessons about ecosystem services are learned when rivers are cleaned and watersheds are managed in an effort to prevent flooding.

Public Market trash, Bacolod City.

Bacolod City’s Public Market trash- can be a source of CLEAN ENERGY!

 

Climate change & environmental degradation effects in Boracay Island

Climate change & environmental degradation effects in Boracay Island

Almost every city in the world is dealing with an influx of people from different ethnic backgrounds and cultural events play an important part in creating a sense of pride in the community and are promoted as a means to support minoritiesCultural heritage is increasingly understood as a resource to be kept alive, both for visitors to cities and for the people who live there.

Bacolod City’s Electric Masskara – a sustainable festival? NOT.

In the cities that try to fake it, the grassroots heritage aspects and authenticity disappear as events grow bigger and more commercial. Major events that require substantial investment, such as festivals and sporting events  do not always enhance quality of life for local communities after the television cameras have left.

In Japan: sustainable living with environmental risk IS the way of life. It takes a lot of discipline and culture of respect.

Some cities are aware of the links between global targets and local actions. Sustainability measures are taken at the local level, including investment in renewable energy and efficiency requirements for local buildings. More advanced cities broaden the focus to cover social impact and how sustainable development policy is delivered. Watch Tokyo solid waste & recycling management video. Incredible!

Sustainable city, Seoul – rapid urban development with best green practices: transport, energy, water efficiency, sincere sustainability solutions with political will.

Refurbishment of existing buildings becomes big business, public transport systems are improved and sustainable public procurement practices are introduced.

U.N. Shanghai Manual for Sustainable Cities

Green Shanghai – origin of the “Shanghai Manual”-U.N.’s Sustainability capacity building.

Shanghai Manual – helping leaders of the world’s cities use integrated urban planning, management, financing and technology to green their economies and build climate and economic resilience.

While all these aspects constitute progress, it is misguided to think that they combine to create urban sustainability. True systemic change is missing from the picture. Progress to date has been far too slow and incremental changes to business as usual don’t go far enough.

Boracay White Beach (mis)management_Band aid solution and lack of sustainability policy resulting to environmental destruction

The tough road ahead will have to include holistic visionsintegrated planning and brave strategies to implement them. For this to become a reality, the language of money must become more about sustainabilityrenewable energy sources must be fully integrated into urban infrastructure and the pedestrian must become king of the road. Source: The Guardian

Visiting Shanghai’s Urban Planning Museum.Shanghai established eco city framework in 2010.

DO POSITIVE.  Learn the lessons from disasters: take action. Demand from your political representatives to do their job, work towards healthy, clean environment and community. For Metro Manila, hope is seen at the horizon with the Green Print 2030, and people should take action towards livability and sustainability.

Typhoon Sendong in Northern Mindanao aftermath.

Join our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. SSTDI- advocating green, eco-friendly and responsible travel. Learn more about greening your destination and how to make your home community sustainable. Promote your eco destination,  hotel, resort, lodging, restaurant, festival, event venue or hospitality services, spa or sports, transport, real estate development or any tourism-related enterprise espousing green or sustainable practices through our Green Travel Exchange.  Travel with a difference in Green Getaways  such as ourNegros Agri-Tours, discover Danjugan Island, a true ecotourism destination, Don Salvador Benedicto’ (DSB) for a health and wellness getaway, and Care for Coron Island-  meaningful journeys that touches the soul!

Take a PERU DREAM TRIP  by Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco Pioneer and Conservation Leader since 1975; 100% Carbon Neutral travel and stay, any day departure. For more information and travel assistance about our Green Travel Exchange and Green Hotels stay, contact us.

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