A breathtaking view at Entalula Island in El Nido, Palawan.
Photo by Joanne Rae Ramirez
' Take only selfies'
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - November 15, 2019 - 12:00am

LIO, El Nido — The country’s tourist spots will not be sacrificed in the name of commerce, Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said here Wednesday as she launched the department’s “Save Our Spots” (SOS) by the  beachfront of Huni Resort.

“This moment calls for decisive action from all sectors involved to protect our destinations and ensure that the fun lasts forever,” she said, tweaking the DOT’s slogan, “It’s more fun in the Philippines.”

Puyat said the rollout of SOS will begin this holiday season to educate as many visitors as possible so as to reduce the possible damage caused by the tourist influx. (Visit www.philippines.travel/saveourspots.)

(From left) Fernando Zobel de Ayala, the author, Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat, Monica Tiosejo and Vito Puyat.

Though she expressed elation over the spike in tourist arrivals, she said this shouldn’t be at the expense of the environment.

“Our visitor arrivals keep on climbing. The Philippines received a total of 6,161,503 visitors from January to September 2019, indicating a 14.37-percent increase from the 5,387,458 arrivals for the same period last year,” she announced.

“However, this spectacular view that we are enjoying now won’t last if we continue to be indifferent to the impact we make on the environment.”

(From left) Ten Knots Group president Javier Hernandez, group director for sales and marketing Joey Bernardino and director for sustainability Mariglo Laririt, Ayala Land Hotels and Resorts Corp. president and CEO Michael Alexis Legaspi, Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat and son Vito, Ayala Land chairman Fernando Zobel de Ayala and TKPI project development head Marian Reyes with resort managers Jen Zafra of Lagen Island Resort and Heidi Hocson of Apulit Island Resort.

40th anniversary

The SOS launch took place at the newly opened Huni Resort, which is owned by Ayala’s Ten Knots Group. Ten Knots is celebrating its 40th year and also launched its “From Hooks to Books” campaign through El Nido Resorts.

This initiative provides fishermen with a greater source of income while offering guests an authentic, interactive experience. By supplying books and a power generator, the campaign also strengthens the learning resources of the local school children, whose parents are often employed by the resort.

Ayala Land chairman Fernando Zobel de Ayala said that Ten Knots is committed to Palawan’s people and environment.

Bea and Paloma Zobel.

He pointed out that P35 million was paid to local boatmen for boat rentals by El Nido Resorts; P20-million worth of seafood sourced from Palawan suppliers; P2.5-million annual fees paid for fishermen’s services from 2015 to 2019 through the  program “From Hooks to Books;” 100 percent of El Nido Resorts’ rice is sourced from Narra, Palawan.

He proudly said that 88 percent of resort employees are from Palawan.

A video on the importance of the human factor in protecting the environment, produced in cooperation with BBC Earth represented by Noel Lorenzana, summed it up: “Leave only foot prints... take only selfies.”

Samahan ng mga Mangingisda ng Kiminawit president Mariano Villador with Palawan residents Michelle and Amy Roth.

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(You may e-mail me at joanneraeramirez@yahoo.com. Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)

BERNA ROMULO-PUYAT
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