Ecotourism studies urged in Cordillera

STUDENTS are encouraged to conduct research on ecotourism in the Cordillera Administrative Region.

“Students development and eco-tourism studies to engage in researches because eco-tourism and its approaches especially in community level is developing. It’s the new direction for the development studies and conservation. It’s a very timely topic and we also wanted to reach to students who are finding topics to pursue and at the same time the government agencies involved in eco-tourism,” said University of the Philippines Baguio Cordillera Studies Center (CSC) director Leah Abayao.

Abayao said during a lecture, tackling eco-tourist expressions and ontologies is seen as an opportunity for students and the people of Cordillera to learn from the experience.

The lecture series gathers students, educators and government agencies for an open forum and presentation of dissertation of Semai Ontologies, Eco-touristic Expressions and Actor-networks in the Bukit Kinta forest by Malaysian PhD candidate Cyren Wong Zhi Hoong.

The forum also presented an in-depth anthropological study of biodiversity conservation and indigenous peoples' empowerment within the frameworks of the community-based ecotourism organization founded by the Semai people of Ulu Geroh, a small indigenous village located in the Bukit Kinta Rainforest in Northern Malaysia.

It further aims the ethnographic study of the Ulu Geroh Semai Community's interpretation and adaptation of biodiversity conservation and ecotourism in responding the challenges and changes in the Bukit Kinta Rainforest over the past 10 years.

“There is quite a big difference I would think like in the Cordilleras rather in Sagada, they were very at home and one with their land but in Malaysia, even though I can say that the Semai are one with the land they are also very afraid of it,”said Zhi Hoong.

The 27-year-old educator added Malaysians are very afraid of the forest they live because Malaysia is a tropical forest with the presence of deadly animals and insects adding the ontologies of people in Malaysia and people in the Cordilleras are very different.

"In Malaysia a lot of people are not aware of the Indigenous struggle, but I think the youth here are more aware in generally of what indigenous struggles are like,” said Zhi Hoong adding he wants to bridge the gap between indigenous peoples knowledge and continue to researches inclined with Indigenous People's Studies, Ethnozoology/Ethnobotany and biodiversity conservation.

Meanwhile, Abayao added they want to further sustain the lectures for every two months and have at least four lectures every year.
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