Ilocos pageant aims for ecological balance
LAOAG CITY—From across the country, a bevy of beauties and hunks assembled for a pageant on April 30 along the shores of the famed Blue Lagoon at Barangay Balaoi in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte province.
It was no ordinary pageant.
The 13 pairs were contending for the title of Mr. and Miss Hannah’s Ecotourism Philippines 2016 and were representing the direction of ecotourism that has been changing the landscape of Ilocos Norte’s growing economy.
Homegrown resorts, like Hannah’s Beach Resort and Convention Center (HBRCC), have been expanding. “[But] while we are developing the tourism infrastructure, we should not forget to preserve our environment,” said retired Air Force Col. Ricardo Nolasco Jr., HBRCC owner and a sponsor of the Ecotourism Philippines pageant.
Primarily aimed at promoting sustainable ecotourism development, the three-year-old pageant hopes to inspire other tourism stakeholders to preserve the environment, Nolasco said.
Overlooking the Maira-ira cove and white sand beaches in Barangay Balaoi, HBRCC is the only member of the International Ecotourism Society of America in the Philippines and Asia.
The beach resorts in other areas lost their business due to their inability to address crippling environmental issues, Nolasco said.
To avoid these issues, HBRCC developed its own sewerage and water disposal systems and ecological projects, in coordination with the local and international agencies, to “ensure we do it right,” he said.
HBRCC used to be the Nolascos’ retirement home until they decided to develop the resort, which is located between verdant mountains and a lagoon.
“There are no more slow tourist seasons in Pagudpud,” said Mayor Marlon Sales. “It’s always a peak season for tourists because of these promotional activities being conducted by HBRCC.”
According to the Ilocos Norte tourism office, 444,980 tourists spent their Holy Week in the province, topping the 232,678 recorded last year.
The surge of tourists during the holidays represented a 91.24 percent increase from last year’s number, the office said, adding that 60 percent of these tourists are repeat guests.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.