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Fostering sustainable Agrotourism and Forestry in the Philippines

Posted: 2016-04-18
Category: News


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Over the decades, tourism has been growing its international presence as a frontrunner in fostering socio-economic growth. Tourism has been continuously evolving, expanding, and diversifying. Current tourism trends show increasing awareness to other forms of tourism products such as agrotourism and forestry. Thus, establishing the link between agroutourism and forestry, and sustainable tourism is becoming a necessity.

As an advocate of sustainable tourism, The W. SyCip Graduate School of Business and the Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) conducted a weeklong management course on sustainable agrotourism and forestry for students of the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM) last 14-18 March 2016. The course was part of Global Network Week, wherein weeklong mini courses all over the world provide an opportunity for students within the network to pursue intensive study on selected topics. This sustainable agrotourism and forestry course was designed to provide students the chance to discuss successful business models, management dynamics of sustainable agrotourism and forest reserve sites, and the proper management of scarce environmental resources. The course is comprised of a one-day classroom session at the AIM, and on-site visits and classroom sessions at the International Rice Research Institute, Los Banos, Laguna; Makiling Forest Reserve ASEAN Park, Laguna; Patis Tesoro B&B and Garden Café, San Pablo, Laguna; and Milea Bee Farm, Lipa, Batangas.


On Monday, 14 March 2017, the students had an intensive classroom session which facilitated discussions on various agrotourism and forestry case studies in the Philippines. The discussion commenced with Prof. Benjamin C. Bagadion, who discussed about ecotourism and sustainable tourism development in the Philippines by examining a protected area in the Philippines, the Apo Island in Pujada Bay. Bagadion presented his case study, ‘Managing the Pujada Bay protected landscape and seascape’, while providing a three-pronged analysis on sustainable tourism: first, the springboard in crafting tourism programs should be focused on the beauty of nature; second, in avoiding elite capture of tourism sites, there is a need to establish a sense of ownership among the community members which can be achieved through local government and local community cooperation and involvement; lastly, in the venture of environmental protection, second-generation problems must be foreseen, and consequentially be prevented.

In relation to this, Prof. Fernando Y. Roxas talked about sustainable tourism, specifically tackling ecotourism as a form of sustainable tourism by using the triple bottom line strategy. Ecotourism has been growing as a profitable market given the increasing interest and awareness on the environment, media exposure of natural areas, satisfaction with traditional tourism, and increased connectivity of ecotourism destinations. The discussion demonstrates how ecotourism is becoming more important in the tourism industry.

Two sustainable business models were introduced to the students, the Nuvali Evoliving, a self-sustainable eco-friendly community, and the Prado Farms, a sustainable bed and breakfast garden. Ms. Ofelia Odilao-Bisnar, AIM Alumni (MBM98), discussed the business model of Nuvali Evoliving in Laguna, a commercial district integrating modern facilities and sustainable practices in natural open spaces. The design and plan of Nuvali encourages local community involvement and eco-community in the country while being located in an urban area. On the other hand, Ms. Agnes Gutierrez and Reimon Ocampo Gutierrez, owner of Prado farms, discussed the business model employed in their family-owned business, Prado Farms, a bed and breakfast and garden.


On Tuesday, 15 March 2016, the students visited two sites, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), an international research and training organization primarily focused on sustainable rice farming, and Oryspa, the first maker of rice bran-based spa products in the Philippines.

The lectures in IRRI were primarily focused on the methods employed by the institution to sustain rice production. Dr. Cezar P. Mamaril, a soil scientist, discussed the value of promoting sustainability of rice planting and production by emphasizing the significant role played by the soil to where the crops are planted. According to Mamaril, the amount of yields and profits a farmer can reap from its crops depends highly on the soil condition. Mamaril advocates the balanced use of chemicals to produce greater yield, introducing his own technique to diagnose and improve the nutrient status of soils, the Soil Test Kit (STK) and Minus One Element Technique (MOET) kit. On the other hand, Dr. Sarah E.J. Beebout discussed about the ways to ensure production of good rice yield, specifically emphasizing the value of community and youth involvement in this venture.

The students’ visit at Oryspa was accompanied by a lecture which tackled the sustainable business model employed by Ms. Sherill Quintana, owner of Oryspa. Quintana talked about the business model employed in her own venture. Her entrepreneurial background and her husband’s knowledge on forest product engineering, paved way to the establishment of Oryspa as the first maker of rice bran-based spa products in the Philippines. Quintana emphasized the value of having sustainable resources as main ingredients for their products, such as the rice bran which is normally put into waste.


On Wednesday, 16 March 2016, the students had two on-site lectures, specifically on the business models of Milea Bee Farm, a sustainable beekeeping and bee farm, and Patis Tito Garden Café, a traditional Filipino-home inspired café serving dishes that are made from locally sourced produce.

Mr. Rico Omoyon, owner of Milea Bee Farm, discussed about the lack of awareness of Filipinos to the importance beekeeping in promoting sustainable agriculture. With this, Omoyon thought of a way to raise awareness about the subject, and one way of doing this is by establishing a bee farm and fostering apitourism, the showcase of beekeeping as a tourism product.

Mrs. Beatriz “Patis” Tesoro Pamintuan, owner of Patis Tito Garden Café and the "Grand Dame of Philippine Fashion,” provided a lecture on the business model employed in her sustainable fashion designing, specifically discussing the ‘revival of the Pina cloth.” Pamintuan emphasized the value of using sustainable and indigenous materials in her designs.


On Thursday, 17 March 2016, the students had an on-site lecture and activity primarily focused on sustainable forestry at the Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems. The students were able to hike and explore Mt. Makiling while learning about the ways to which the Makiling center employs sustainable forestry.

Dr. Nathaniel Bantayan, Director of Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems, provided an introduction on the mountain and how sustainable forestry is practiced. Bantayan emphasized the value of involving the local community in this endeavour of sustainable forestry.

Dr. Rogelio Andrada II, Deputy Director of Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems discussed one of the ways to which sustainable forestry is being fostered in the site, specifically through a biodiversity park which serves as a gene bank of various trees species in the country.


On Friday, 18 March 2016, the presentation of the students’ capstone projects and an awarding ceremony became the culmination activities for the week-long course. The students presented their capstone projects to a panel of esteemed professors and speakers. The day was concluded with the awarding ceremony, where each of the students was given their certificates. After the ceremony, the students were given a city tour in Intramuros, Manila.


In conclusion, tourism does not necessarily equate to the destruction and disenfranchisement of the environment, of agriculture and forestry. In reality, tourism can be utilized to enhance and sustain the agriculture industry and forestry of a locality, in the form of sustainable agrotourism and forestry, and only by involving the local community and the youth can this venture be a success.

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