What Bea Ayala Said About Bohol Province?

Bohol arts patron and Raja Sikatuna awardee Beatriz Susanna "Bea" Zobel de Ayala declared so during the Bohol Day celebration at the Bohol Cultural Center last Tuesday.

In her acceptance speech, Zobel stressed on the three pillars of Ayala Foundation - Education, Environment and Entrepreneur-ship as guiding principles of responsible and sustainable tourism.

Zobel said that because Bohol has so much to offer, "I never tired of pointing out to people that it would be very difficult to find all these resources in one province anywhere else in the Philippines."

What she referred about are the tourism come-ons such as caves, forests, wildlife, sparkling rivers, centuries-old churches, old houses, native crafts, white beaches, coral reefs and the Loboc Children's Choir.

But such an abundance of resources carries with it a lot of responsibilities, she said, citing an adage "to whom much has been given, much shall be required."

She reminded the tourism stakeholders that it's not so much on the number of tourists coming in to Bohol that is now reaching some 600,000 or the sprouting of resorts to cater them but the quality of visitors and quality of service.

"Sustainable tourism suggests that we use local architecture and develop local styles.

Sustainable tourism also implies that the income generated must benefit the people of the community especially those at the grass-root level."

Hence, the human and natural and cultural wealth of Bohol "must be stewarded and developed for future generations" and this can only be done through sustainable tourism, she said.

She also expressed gratitude to the people of Bohol led by Gov. Erico Aumentado and Vice-Gov. Julius Caesar Herrera for the award.

Zobel said that she had been working and putting up projects, which she finds interesting and challenging. One of these is the project that developed a sustainable tourism program in Pamilacan Island, off Baclayon town, where fishers used to hunt whale-shark for a living.

Another one project is the setting up of a home-stay scheme in Baclayon town wherein tourist may opt to live with a family while in Bohol and experience the lifestyle or culture of the Boholanos.

And the third one is the setting up of a program helping the parish community of Dauis town to set up a sustainable program that deals with the church's heritage resources.

She said that she shared what she has, including her time and energy with the Boholanos because she also received "so much from this province and its people and this award is just one example." - Ric V. Obedencio