Bantay Kalikasan

Agro-ecotourism Projects Inspire New Bantay Kalikasan Site in Samar

Althea Cahayag and Jun Figueroa
December 21, 2018

Nineteen participants from Barangay Literon, Calbiga, Samar joined the two-day “LakbayGabay” activity of ABS-CBN LingkodKapamilya Foundation, Inc. – BantayKalikasan.

The participants visited the provinces of Biliran and Leyte to learn from the best practices of the established people’s organizations managing community-based sustainable livelihoods from said two provinces.

Their first stop was in Canaan Farm in Caibiran, Biliran. The hillside farm is the first agri-tourism project to be accredited by the DOT in Region 8. It showcased an integrated diversified organic farming system where it planted various fruit trees, raised poultry and livestock, planted vegetables and herbs, processing and value-adding.  It is also considered as one of the learning sites of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI). 

The group also visited Bantay Kalikasan’s assisted sites in Leyte which were funded from the donations given to Operation Sagip following Super Typhoon Yolanda – the Sabang Daguitan Surf Camp, the San Jose Skimboarding Camp, and the San Jose Organic Farm in Dulag, Leyte.

Rene Dumaguit, President of NASAKASEKO, discusses how they got back on their feet after Yolanda through the SabangDaguitan Surf Camp.

They interacted with the members and officers of NASAKASEKO (Nagka-urosangaSabangnonKatilingban Service Cooperative). NASAKASEKO shared how volunteerism worked to build the surf camp and how the people’s organization runs the ecotourism project. 

Their last stop was at the Villa Conzoilo Farm in Jaro, Leyte. The farm with a breathtaking view is considered as the first organic farm in Leyte run by a People’s Organization. It is also an ATI learning center. As an organic farm, it engages into vegetable and herb production, ornamentals, poultry and livestock, and aquaculture production. It is managed by Leyte Compact Farming Agriculture Cooperative.

During the processing of the activity, the participants were very much impressed with the transformation of these farms into becoming sustainable livelihood projects.

Jun Figueroa, BantayKalikasan’s Operations Manager for Yolanda projects said, “The participants expressed excitement to start planting upon their return. They feel that they neglected the potentials of their areas or farms. They have learned so much from the trip and they are willing to share it with other community members. 

“They have come to realize the need to reorganize and make the two associations into one cooperative. They were told to dream big but they can start small.”

Brgy. Literon Women’s Association and Lulugayan Falls Tourguides’ Association will be managing the development of Brgy. Literon as an Ecovillage and Ecotourism Site. It is ALKFI-BK’s new assisted site in Calbiga, Samar where it will showcase traditional and rural Filipino setting and culture. It will also involve the establishment of a restaurant, hanging bridge, and a view deck to enjoy the panoramic view of the Lulugayan Falls. Community members are also encouraged to set up a communal farm and individual backyard garden.

“Lakbay Gabay” is one of Bantay Kalikasan’s activities for people’s organizations in its assisted communities. It is an immersion that becomes an avenue for the communities to share inputs on how they have found solutions to different issues that arise in their own sites. Through this, Bantay Kalikasan wants to instill the culture of sharing among the different people’s organizations where learners eventually become mentors as they learn from each other. This practice also develops a special support system among the different organizations that go beyond the immersion days.

The said Lakbay Gabay activity was funded by the Local Government Unit of Calbiga and the Provincial Government of Samar.