“Sustainability is more fun in Siargao!”

June 25, 2021

MANILA, 25 June 2021 — The 50th episode of “Stories for a Better Normal: Pandemic and Climate Pathways” highlighted the ways on how travel can be sustainable, inspiring, and life-changing in the better normal, on the first part of “Sustainable Travel Series” featuring the island of Siargao in Surigao del Norte.

Siargao is known for its world-class surf spots, sparkling white sand islets, turquoise tide pools, and palm tree-laden lagoons.

The online conversation conceptualized and hosted by three-term Senator, now Deputy Speaker and Antique Representative Loren Legarda featured individuals and organizations in Siargao including Andi Eigenmann, vlogger of “Happy Islanders”; Vice Mayor Alfredo Matugas Coro II of Del Carmen, Surigao del Norte; Jerlyn Rabaca, School Administrator of Espoir School of Life Inc.; and Kara Rosas, Executive Director of Lokal Lab Siargao who shared and promoted ecosystems protection, climate resilience, and sustainable tourism in the island.

“Naging passionate ako about helping raise awareness on how to live a sustainable life. I care so much about the environment especially the ocean, because it brought me so much joy over the years. For me it’s just one thing, to educate the locals and the visitors that come here and hope that I can influence them to be more mindful as people who live here and to be able to know how to preserve and care for the island they live in. And for the tourist na sana marealize nila na hindi nila ito bahay at sana tratuhin nila ito with respect and with care, ‘leave nothing but footprints’ sabi nga nila,” said Andi Eigenmann as she shared how she enjoys living the island life.

“We focus on social tourism to connect people with nature and with Siargao. It is a form of tourism that brings travelers to local communities with the goal of not only gaining pleasure from the experience, but also contributing to places they’re been visiting. We developed an eco-tourism industry that capitalizes on our biggest asset which is the mangrove forests and the vast municipal waters,” said Vice Mayor Coro as he tackled “Siargao it Up!,” a social tourism and mangrove management project of Del Carmen LGU.

“We all need someone who will believe in us, especially if the students are coming from underserved areas. Sa simpleng paniniwala ng isang eskwelahan, doon mabubuo yung pangarap ng isang bata. Aside from teaching them academically, we also wanted to teach them leadership habang bata pa sila, and to love the environment kung saan sila lumaki at pangalagaan ‘yon,” said Jerlyn Rabaca as she presented the advocacy of Espoir School of Life, a non-profit organization that provides free education to underprivileged children in Siargao.

“What we really want here at Lokal is to create a new way of life and to show that sustainability can happen, and it’s not that difficult. It’s through networking and empowering the local community working ‘alongside them’ rather ‘for them’, we’re actually able to commit to a sustainable change. And more than anything, what we and Lokal want to show is that anyone really can help out as long as you’re committed and you believe in what you’re doing and the locals who also want to help out, and that’s how you can make a change,” said Kara Rosas as she shared the advocacy of Lokal Lab Siargao, a non-profit organization that supports and empowers the local community through impactful and sustainable projects that promote local culture.

Legarda, with co-host Atty. Ipat Luna, lauded the initiatives of the guests and committed to support the locals of Siargao by implementing measures that will enhance the local climate-adaptive capacities of communities, and at the same time, promote domestic tourism and travel sustainably.

“The time is not enough to be able to show the good things Filipinos actually do, the excellent work that the Filipino youth are modelling to the elders and we are showing to the world. It gives me the inspiration to see that you are embracing a life of nature and culture of sustainability in your own way and giving due respect to those who toil and till the land, to those who give food on the table,” Legarda concluded.

As an online discussion to promote health, environmental consciousness, and climate-adaptive practices, “Stories for a Better Normal” aims to change the mindset of individuals, families, and communities by demonstrating ways in which a ‘better normal’ can be realized within our communities.

This online discussion is organized in partnership between the Office of Deputy Speaker Legarda and the Climate Change Commission, with support from the Department of Education, Philippine Information Agency, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, The Climate Reality Project-Philippines and Mother Earth Foundation. ###