Calbiga, Samar To Offer Eco-Tourism Options At Philippine Eco-Fair

Top Quote First Philippine International Eco Show on August 26-28 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, Philippines. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) August 18, 2010 - "Samar Island is not God's gift, but His bequest. Not just to feed us, but for us to feed. Not with our waste, but with our care."

    So goes the preamble to the Samar Island Council on Climate Change, a document that reflects the Samareņos' drive to serve as stewards to the abundant expanse of resources that make up the Eastern Visayan province of Samar.

    As the third largest island in the Philippines, Samar is one of the top 200 eco-regions of the world declared by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a leading global organization for wildlife conservation, and is such full of unexplored vistas of sea and terrain. Because it is mountainous, majority of Samar's population and agricultural lands are found along the coast and downstream of river systems - putting it at risk of rising sea levels attributable to climate change.

    This vulnerability, as well as knowing that future progress inextricably lies on how they handle their environment now, have led the residents of Samar's fourth-class municipality of Calbiga to take up the call to action in preserving Calbiga's many natural wonders.

    "In the next ten years, [we envision] Calbiga [to] have become a more livable and prosperous community," said Calbiga Mayor Melchor Nacario, "where people live decent lives within an ecologically balanced, protected and safe environment -- being a center for trade and commerce, and a well-known eco-tourism destination."

    A passionate environmentalist, Mayor Nacario is one of the leading advocates of a Samar island-wide, ecosystem-based approach to the requirements of sustainable development.

    It was under his leadership that in 2003 Calbiga was named one of the most livable communities in the world when it joined the annual Nations in Bloom, a prestigious international competition endorsed by the United Nations Environment Programme, which addresses the management of the environment and the enhancement of the quality of life.

    Now, Calbiga continues to confront the climate change problem with mitigation policies, adaptation initiatives, and other proactive countermeasures.

    These include maintaining the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) with its 333,000 hectares of lowland tropical forests that serve as a sink for carbon sequestration (whereby carbon in the atmosphere is removed and deposited in a reservoir e.g., forests); the reforestation of its watersheds; mangrove rehabilitation; river desiltation and erosion control; sustained advocacy against mining, illegal fishing and logging; and finally leveraging on its myriad of natural attractions as potential eco-destinations.

    The latter part it sets to accomplish by joining the government-led first Philippine International Eco-Show (PINES) debuting this August, an international trade event focused on driving up demand for the country's environmental goods and services, not least of which includes the promotion of eco-tourism particularly for well-endowed localities.

    "[Through PINES], we hope to improve our understanding of climate change-biodiversity linkages," said Mayor Nacario. "The environment is our number one priority, and eco-tourism is our conservation and economic strategy."

    Among Calbiga's eco-destinations are: the Langun-Gobingob Caves in Barangay Panayuran, a twelve-chambered cave system touted to be the second largest in Asia, boasting of magnificent rock formations and underground water courses that serve as habitat of blind crabs and the extremely rare blind gobinee fish (Caecogobius cryptophthalmus); the Lulugayan Falls in Barangay Literon, dubbed by tourists as a mini-Niagara for its hundreds of cascading waterfalls; Calbiga River, which serves as transport byway and water source for 17 barangays; and Calbiga's mangrove forests, the richest spawning grounds for fish and crustaceans in the Eastern Visayas.

    Putting these destinations on the map for visitors, Mayor Nacario believes, could pave the way for greater measures to be enacted towards greening the Samar landscape and broadening the base for environmental advocacy and activism.

    "By putting the spotlight on our country's eco-tourism destinations, we attract investment into our LGUs that will hopefully enable them to be more environmentally responsible and more driven to protect these gems of nature," said Thelma Dumpit-Murillo, Project Director of PINES and Deputy Executive Director of the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), an attached agency of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as well as organizing body for the show.

    "PINES hopes to show that protecting the environment is also a way of protecting our heritage, which gives us even more pride in what we can offer the world," she added.

    Set on August 26-28 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, the first Philippine International Eco Show is staged in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Philippine Green Building Council (PhilGBC), the Philippine Business for the Environment (PBE), and the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP). It is also supported by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham), the Haribon Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources, Inc., and the Solid Waste Management Association of the Philippines (SWAPP).

    To learn more about eco-tourism destinations to be featured at the 1st Philippine International Eco-Show, visit

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