Filipino sisters behind Masungi Georeserve cited in Vanity Fair travel awards
Filipino conservationists Ann and Billie Dumaliang have been recognized for their efforts in sustainable tourism by American magazine Vanity Fair.
“For 20 years, the Dumaliang sisters have been in the karst landscape of Masungi Georeserve, with the goal of protecting 430 hectares of rainforest in Rizal in the Philippines,” states their profile in the magazine’s Hollywood Issue by editor Michelle Jana Chan. “They have helped to rewild the land (depleted by deforestation and quarrying), establish monitoring trails, and integrate the local community.”
Besides its forest and biodiversity, Masungi Georeserve is also known for its limestone rocks that are about 60 million years old.
To finance conservation efforts, the Dumaliangs, who are managing trustees of Masungi Georeserve, opened the area to sustainable tourism. To make hiking trails eco-friendly, they ensured that the natural landscape remained untouched and used light, non-invasive structures like hanging bridges and rope courses.
The Vanity Fair profile also lauded the ecodesign, which includes an iconic spiderweb-like structure: “The striking visuals have provided an extra tool to raise awareness, as images of the impressive infrastructure are popular on social media.”
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“We are greatly honored to be featured in Vanity Fair’s 2021 Changing Your Mind Awards and its iconic Hollywood Issue!” the Dumaliang sisters said in a statement to INQUIRER.net.
“Michelle invited us to an interview as potential winners way back in October. As she probably noticed in the interview and photos, we were exhausted,” they said. “All year, we have been fighting the pandemic, quarries, and unscrupulous land grabbers, and finding ways to keep our park rangers safe and employed.”
“Knowing how people from all over the world continue to support our mission to Save Masungi always gives us that spark of hope. We dedicate this recognition to them and all Filipinos fighting tooth and nail for our threatened ecosystems,” they added.
Chan noted that the travel awards “feel even more critical this year, when important work might go unnoticed, while a pandemic ravages and our freedom is curbed. Our 2021 winners have plugged on, undaunted, and are profoundly deserving of being acknowledged here.”
Masungi Georeserve reopened last November after a shutdown for months due to the coronavirus pandemic. It has limited visitors to its trails to five to eight persons per group as part of its health protocols. The Discovery Trail takes hikers through the conservation area, while the Legacy Trail allows visitors to take part in forest restoration. /ra
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