OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Protecting Mount Banahaw for the Prosperity of the People

A project proposal on community-driven sustainable eco-faith tourism in the Municipality of Dolores, Quezon Province, Philippines

Photo of ECHOsi Foundation
0 2

Written by

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

The proposed project seeks to implement a program on community-driven sustainable eco-tourism in Dolores, Quezon Province, Philippines. Dolores is situated at the foot of Mount Banahaw. Considered as “Holy Mountain,” Mount Banahaw is a source of psychic energy, with reported miraculous physical and spiritual healing. The Philippine’s Department of Tourism’s (DOT) listed it as a top Faith Tourism and Mountain Tourism destinations. The project aims to bridge planet and prosperity. As a pilgrimage site, Mount Banahaw attracts thousands of devotees annually. This has provided the community with an alternative source of income but also confronted them with large volumes of trash left by the visitors. Mount Banahaw is not only home to rich biodiversity of endemic and indigenous plant and animal species, it also plays an important role in the economy, culture, religious beliefs and health of the local people. Hence, the need to protect it is vital for the survival of surrounding communities. The people living at the foot of the mountain are poor. Their primary source of income is farming and jobs connected to the mountain's tourism. Due to lack of job opportunities, most of the young generation seek employment in the cities, leaving the old ones to till the land. The project specifically, aims to: a. Professionalize and standardize the tour guiding in the area by providing capacity-building activities which include environmental protection; coffee training and stingless bee hive cultivation towards farm expansion, traditional “hilot” services. b. Provide product development, packaging and branding trainings for new products that can be sold. c. Provide a recycling facility center that can segregate trash and up-cycle items. The approach is holistic as it will not only protect the environment, it will also provide the community with a sustainable source of income while also preserving their local culture and practices.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The project beneficiaries are farmers, traditional healers, tour guides and women micro-entrepreneurs of Barangays Sta. Lucia, Kinabuhayan, and Cristobal in Dolores, Quezon. As partners and beneficiaries, the project aims to improve quality of life by providing coffee growers and women micro-entrepreneur the necessary skills and knowledge to produce quality coffee, food, and souvenir products that they can package as their own. This also aims to professionalize and improve tour guides’ services. This will empower them to create a positive impact on the environment and preserve their culture and tradition.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

The idea is unique as it brings spirituality, ecology, and economic sustainability at the forefront of sustainable eco-faith tourism development. Unlike other organizations that focus solely on enterprise development and conservation of natural resources, ECHOsi’s approach is unique as it creates a complete value chain from on-the-ground training to market access. This bridges planet and prosperity by developing community-based enterprises and opening untapped markets for products and services while emphasizing the importance of ecological sustainability and enhancing community’s understanding of tourism. ECHOsi’s network of corporations, social enterprises, and nonprofit organizations gives it a competitive edge in providing market access and developing economic opportunities while preserving the sanctity of Mount Banahaw. Since 2011, ECHOsi Foundation has been providing culturally-sensitive and specialized enterprise development services linked to global market.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Prototype: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

ECHOsi empowers communities with hope and opportunities through sustainable initiatives.

Expertise in sector

  • 1-2 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

ECHOsi recently conducted a community assessment that surfaced how tourist influx affects the community’s well-being and the sanctity of Mount Banahaw. The community remains poor despite the potential income from tourist arrivals. We have seen untapped potential of micro-enterprises, honey propagation, and coffee growers to get local and export markets. If left unchecked, the community may suffer from environmental degradation and loss of livelihood.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

The project bridges planet and prosperity by addressing the nexus of poverty and the negative implications of mass tourism to the community’s cultural heritage and the environment. Planet has been impacted by the lack of regulations and systems to manage the influx of tourists and the large volume of garbage they leave behind. The need is urgent so as not to lose the beauty of a sacred destination and adversely affect the lives of community members. Despite tourism’s potential to boost the community’s economy, the youth migrate to urban centers like Manila for better opportunities. There is huge potential for prosperity in the community if they are able to better understand the challenges and opportunities of tourism and the importance of developing sustainable livelihood. Additionally, market readiness for products and services that can offer livelihood also needs to be done.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

ECHOsi Foundation, the main proponent, will oversee and manage the implementation of the project. The Philippine Coffee Board, Inc. (PCBI) will provide technical assistance and market linkages for specialty coffee. Local goups Atimoya Cooperative and the Association of Traditional Health Aid Givers will be our local partners in coffee production, providing traditional Filipino massage, conducting tours, and implementing activities to protect the environment. The Local Government Unit will ensure project sustainability. ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle and GREAT Women Philippines Corporation will market the products. ECHOsi has been implementing projects nationwide. We don’t only provide product enhancement sessions, but also links groups to local and international markets. Recently, it successfully partnered with Christian Louboutin, an international luxury brand, for the Manilacaba bags that showed the successful inclusive business model of ECHOsi’s textile supply chain.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

In our recent visits to the project site, we have seen how enthusiastic the people are about the initiative. They also have the basic skills and resources to produce marketable products. ECHOsi only needs to upgrade these skills, show them the full potential of their enterprises and provide them market access. The youth are eager to learn but must guided and taught. They need to be inspired on the ecological uniqueness and the diversity of the flora and fauna of the Mountain.

Geographic Focus

Municipality of Dolores, Quezon Province in the Philippines.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The proposed project will be implemented in 36 months. The initial phase of the implementation will be data gathering through interviews and rapid appraisal. Project implementation will commence after one month of data gathering and analysis. Project implementation monitoring and evaluation will be conducted towards the end of the project.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • Yes


Join the conversation: