The inclusion of Bojo River in the midwest town of Aloguinsan, Cebu in the 2016 list of top 100 sustainable destinations in the world validates the efforts of stakeholders to keep alive a natural heritage.
As reported by Sun.Star Cebu’s Oscar C. Pineda on Sept. 28, there were only two other Philippine destinations that joined the list of sustainable destinations.
Lakes Sebu and Holon, both in South Cotabato, were also chosen by Green Destination and five other leaders in sustainable tourism.
The Green Destination and its partners drew up the list, following 15 criteria that emphasized residents’ involvement, protection of the people against exploitation, health and safety, waste water treatment, and reduction of fossil fuel dependency.
Taking the cue from sustainable development advocates, tourism has shifted from the extractive and exploitative practices of the 1970s-1980s to push trends that uphold “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Still the most quoted, this definition of “sustainable development” is culled from the World Commission on Environment and Development’s (also known as the Brundtland Commission) 1987 report, “Our Common Future.”
The undertaking to develop Bojo River succeeded because the residents overcame their initial indifference and opposition and eventually adopted this advocacy as their own.
According to Pineda’s Oct. 30 report on Sun.Star Cebu, the training of local guides for the Bojo River Eco-cultural tour offered free meals. The strategy of meeting daily needs worked gradually in whittling down the initial resistance.
From an alternative source of income, the Bojo River development initiatives provide the residents’ main source of income.
Blending now and forever
Among development workers, ensuring short-term benefits is a strategy for building confidence and overcoming initial resistance to change long-held beliefs and practices.
By linking survival and other primary needs with the long-term challenge of ecological conservation and rehabilitation, Bojo River stakeholders succeeded in carrying out sustainable development.
Can this crucial link still be carried out to preserve other aspects of local heritage that may not directly and immediately tap into present needs?
Sustainability is no longer an option for some of the 200 animals housed in the Cebu City Zoo. As reported by Princess D. Felicitas in Sun.Star Cebu last Sept. 27, a government team found that the zoo failed to follow the law protecting animal welfare.
In the face of government’s lapses and shortcomings, civil society is emerging as crucial catalysts for heritage.
Academe and non-government organizations may not just rescue tangible aspects of heritage but also carry out the essential role of educating the public about sharing the stake to appreciate cultural legacy and then work for its preservation.
The Creative Council of Cebu has brought in local and international academics to work on a project to revitalize Cebu’s oldest commercial district, which includes many historic landmarks such as the Compania Maritima.
Katlene O. Cacho reported in Sun.Star Cebu on Sept. 27 that the Creative Council of Cebu is also targeting more far-reaching results, such as stepping up the architecture curriculum to produce thinkers and designers, not just skilled employees.
In another civil society-led initiative for culture preservation, the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. partners with the Cebu Provincial Government, local government units in Cebu, Department of Education, and the University of San Carlos to restore and preserve the Gabaldon-type of public school buildings that date back to the American era. This is according to Elias O. Baquero’s report in Sun.Star Cebu last Sept. 27.
These illustrate that while merging the short- with the long-term benefits can promote development, it is community support that’s the secret behind promoting sustainability.