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Travel and Tourism

El Nido Resorts partner with Fisherfolk

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Going beyond its stunning location of limestone cliffs and limpid blue waters of Bacuit Bay, El Nido Resorts is now offering unique experiences with local fishermen as another high point of an unforgettable vacation.

Mark Cerqueda, group director of operations, emphasizes that the pride of place exhibited by the locals in their natural surroundings greatly adds to the high customer satisfaction ratings of the resorts. Locals, who are eager and happy to point out to visitors species like the Palawan Hornbill unique to Palawan, make up 95 per cent of the resorts’ employee base and have become a key reason why visitors enjoy their stay.

By offering additional activities with local fishermen and eventually, other groups, El Nido Resorts is giving guests more options to interact with the residents of this piece of paradise.

This special activity offers guests an early morning or late afternoon in a motorized banca with two to three fishermen from Bacuit Bay as they engage in bottom fishing. Their tools are simple nylon lines with a hook, to which bait is attached, and a weight at one end. Unsupported by sophisticated reels, the lines, which are merely wrapped around wooden makeshift spools, are flung into the sea until they find their way to the bottom.

Hold the line and when you feel a strong tug, it means a fish has snapped up the bait, the fishermen instruct guests. All you need to do next is to pull in the line quickly. It seems easy enough until one actually tries it. How do you know it’s a fish biting and not just the current, guests are likely to inquire.

Questions like that lead to meaningful interactions with the fisherfolk freely sharing their experience and unique perspectives of Bacuit Bay. When you spot little fishes close to the top, for instance, it most likely means there are bigger fishes below them. You don’t need a compass in the open sea even when you don’t have any landmarks to guide you. The current will tell you in which direction you are headed.

“Fishing brings people together and facilitates discovery,” according to Cerqueda. “At the end of the day, even when guests don’t catch anything, they gain a deeper appreciation for the trade and hopefully, empathize with the fishermen. Fishing is not easy.”

Since fishing with the locals was offered as a special activity, few visitors have returned disappointed.

The activity was recently reintroduced after a hiatus of several years by El Nido Resorts as the number of guests seeking to learn about local ways of life increased. Al Legaspi, president of El Nido Resorts, observes: “We’ve had more and more visitors in the past 15 years seeking activities that generate greater economic benefits for locals and enhance the well being of the community.”

They validate the global trend towards Responsible Tourism which uses environmental integrity, social justice and maximizing local benefits as key performance indicators.

For the fishermen, bottom fishing with guests means earning in a few hours the equivalent of what could take a whole day and even night to catch. The activity helps ease the economic pressures they feel. At the same time, their first-hand encounters with guests make them appreciate the importance of tourism – especially tourism that places a premium on keeping Bacuit Bay as pristine and unscarred by development as possible.

The fishermen exhibit their understanding for the need to maintain the biodiversity of Bacuit Bay when they catch undersized grouper or lapu-lapu in expeditions with El Nido Resorts guests. They throw back into the sea juvenile fish to allow these overfished species to regenerate. They hope to share the beauty of their home with guests not only for this generation but for generations to come.

The four El Nido Resorts are: Miniloc, Lagen and Pangulasian in El Nido municipality and Apulit in neighboring Taytay.

AL LEGASPI

BACUIT BAY

EL NIDO

EL NIDO RESORTS

FISHERMEN

GUESTS

LAGEN AND PANGULASIAN

MARK CERQUEDA

NIDO

RESORTS

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