June 1, 2023

As the tourism industry is making a comeback two years after the industry came to a standstill due to the Covid-10 pandemic, 12 modest villages in the Cordillera were recognized by the Department of Tourism for practicing sustainable tourism.

These villages will serve as models for other communities in the region to also practice sustainable tourism in light of the agency’s thrust of making tourism an experience rather than mere sightseeing, said DOT-CAR Director Jovita Ganongan during the awarding ceremonies for the search for best tourism villages on Feb.8.

The search, which was launched last year, aims to develop tourism “from the ground, up,” Ganongan said, emphasizing that beyond the recognition is the agency’s long-term goal of spreading best tourism practices in these villages in both emerging and traditional destinations.

Out of the 28 entries, 12 were chosen as finalists. These are: Hapao-Baang-Nungulunan clustered tourism village in Hungduan, Ifugao; Pidlisan Village, Sagada, Mountain Province; Naneng Heritage Village, Tabuk City, Kalinga; Bila Tourism Village, Bauko, Mountain Province; Pasil Slow Food Community, Dangtalan, Pasil, Kalinga; Marag Tourism Village, Luna, Apayao; Balbalasang Proper “Pasual” Balbalan, Kalinga; La Diyang, Tuba, Benguet; Guinzadan Tripartite Tourism Village Bauko, Mountain Province; Nagacadan Open Air Museum, Kiangan, Ifugao; Abra Village Community, Sta. Marcela, Apayao; Maligcong Village, Bontoc, Mountain Province.

Ganongan said the tourism villages were rated based on parameters of the World Tourism Organization and the United Nations International Best Practices. The criteria by both bodies are anchored on Targets 8.9 and 12 of the Sustainable Development Goals which is for governments to devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products.

Of the 12, the Hapao-Baang-Nungulunan clustered tourism village; Pidlisan Village; and the Naneng Heritage Village were adjudged the top three best tourism villages and were awarded P1 million; P500,000; and P200,000, respectively, plus trophy and certificate of recognition.

Ganongan said these tourism villages were able to strike a balance between preserving their culture and traditions, protecting the environment,and giving their guests the best experience by letting them immerse in their daily way of life.

DOT Asec. Christopher Morales, who was the guest of honor in the awarding ceremony, said the DOT-CAR’s initiative of recognizing tourism villages should serve as impetus towards the full recovery of tourism in the Cordillera.

He added, the project strengthens community-based tourism, which is a priority of the DOT – that as the tourism industry is recovering, no sector should be left behind, especially the communities.

“As we know, Cordillerans reside in the Cordillera mountain ranges. The rice terraces of the Cordillera – a Unesco world heritage site and one of the most famous historical and architectural attractions in the Philippines, has been nurtured by villages which oftentimes rely on tourism. These villages are part of the foundation which also promote sustainability,” Morales said.

He said these tourism villages help accelerate economic, social, cultural, and environmental growth especially in the rural areas as tourists will truly experience the Filipino’s exceptional hospitality.

Hopeful that other communities will follow the lead of the finalists, Ganongan said the DOT-CAR is planning to conduct another search this year. – Rimaliza A. Opiña