MANILA -- A traditional Ivatan house-inspired toilet will be built in a provincial park in Basco, Batanes this year for the benefit of locals and tourists alike, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said Tuesday.
The project comes after the ceremonial signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the DOT, the Provincial Government of Batanes and the global non-profit organization World Toilet Association (WTA) to carry out a Public Toilet Flagship Program in tourist destinations in the Philippines.
The project will be sponsored by the Suwon Municipality Government of Korea and Korea Toilet Association.
DOT said the WTA has chosen the Philippines among its developing country members for its Public Toilet Construction Support Project this year alongside Cambodia, Lao, and Bangladesh.
WTA will provide P1,750,000 (USD 35,000) for the traditional Ivatan house-inspired toilet.
DOT-Cagayan Valley Director Virgilio Maguigad, Governor Marilou Cayco, and WTA Chief Manager Sungyeon Nikki Kim formalized the agreement after a series of site inspections of the picturesque Naidi Lighthouse and the provincial park last week.
According to the DOT, the proposed restroom design will reflect the traditional Ivatan architecture with cogon roof, nickel ceiling, and the trademark stone-finish both for functionality and aesthetic purposes.
Also proposed for the project is an independent water tank and solar panels with cubicles designed for senior citizens and differently-abled.
Construction will start in May and is expected to be completed by November. Meanwhile, the inaugural ceremony is scheduled in December.
Meanwhile, a total of P7 million has been allocated this year for building five public lavatories and renovation of two others within the province of Batanes, said Cayco.
This will be done in public spaces like the markets, eating establishments, community centers, tourism attractions, heritage and conservation sites.
The DOT has currently accredited 26 rest areas within the country with six in Cagayan Valley.
Accredited rest areas in gasoline stations require proper ingress and egress located along a major highway or road, adequate parking, rest room, visible signage, courteous staff, and sundries shop.
The agency also plans to roll out a nationwide awareness campaign to recognize outstanding public restrooms that comply with Asean Public Toilet Standards in time for the World Toilet Day late this year.
DOT Secretary Wanda Teo said that considering the holistic needs of tourists is part of the Filipino brand of hospitality.
"As visitors flock to our tourist destinations, the need for accessible and clean public rest rooms arises," Teo said.
She said that though tourists visit places like Batanes to “relax, breathe some fresh air, and unwind,” not being able to find a clean toilet may affect their stay.
The tourism chief stressed that restrooms are necessary not just for responsible tourism but also for environmental protection.
“Toilets and rest areas can be considered as the basic unit of sanitation which is integral in waste management and environmental protection. In order to promote responsible tourism in the country, we need more of these facilities first,” she said. (PNA)