Aeta tribal elder Dominador Liwanag, more popularly known as Tata Kasoy, was presented with an award and certificate of appreciation for his “lifetime work in preserving the rain forest and culture” at the recent Subic Ecotourism Festival.
The 67-year-old leader of the Pastolan tribe at the Subic free port’s Pamulaklakin Trail serves as instructor of the jungle environmental survival training (JEST) course offered to tourists and American servicemen who undergo military exercises in the former US naval base.
Presenting the citation is International School of Sustainable Tourism President Mina Gabor and Global Ecotourism Network (GEN) board member and Ecolodge planning and design authority Hitesh Mehta. Gabor, who pioneered ecotourism in the country when she was tourism secretary, said that it was the first time such an award had been given to a tribal leader in the Philippines.
The four-day festival featured resource persons from the GEN, the Asian Ecotourism Network, and the country’s leading advocates from both the private and government sectors to discuss the global trends in ecotourism. The first of its kind in the Philippines, the four-day event also discussed highlights of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) through a presentation from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in the practice of ecotourism.
A landmark social legislation passed in 1997, the IPRA protects the indigenous peoples’ rights to ancestral lands, self-governance and empowerment, social justice and human rights, and cultural integrity.
Other global ecotourism resource persons included Glenn Jampol and Tony Charters, GEN chairman and vice chairman respectively, and general board members Robert Holmes, Masaru Takayama, Nabil Tarazi, Albert Teo, ASSOB International Australia CEO Paul Niederer, Sapa O’Chau (Vietnam) founder and Director Tan Thi Su, Travel Impact Newswire Executive Editor Imtiaz Muqbil, Mahidol University International College Assistant Dean Kaetwa Muangasame, Bond Asian Ventures Ltd. Chairman Greg Duffel, Indecon Indonesia Director Ary Suhandi, and Global Sustainable Tourism Council CEO Randy Durband.
The event was attended by local government officials and tourism officers, tourism policy-makers, community organizations, tourism establishment owners, the academic community and industry stakeholders. The festival is supported by the Tourism Promotions Board, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Philippine Airlines, PLDT Subictel, Nlex-SCTEx, Steep Coffee, Lighthouse Marina Resort, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Cebu Provincial Tourism Office.