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Towards a Circular Economy in Alabat Island

An island without waste

Photo of Elaine Borazon
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

National Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Researcher Institution

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

1) Local Government of Alabat (policy-maker) 2) Department of Fishery Production and Management-National Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology (research university) 3) EVP R-ONE (small company-product development) 4) Fishery Cooperative of Alabat 5) Farmers' Cooperative of Alabat 6) Food Processors' Cooperative of Alabat 7)Tourism Office of Alabat 8) Entrepinoy Volunteers Foundation Inc. (small NGO) 9)University of the Philippines, College of Home Economics, Department of Hotel, Restaurant, and Institution Management (research university)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Taiwan (R.O.C)

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Alabat Island, in the Quezon Province of the CALABARZON region, covers a total area of 192 km².

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

The mayor invited me to visit the municipality of Alabat in 2016 to assist the food processors in improving the process safety of their food production and the quality of the food products that they are selling to tourists. At that time, I learned that the local government was aiming for a sustainable development of the area but they lack the necessary resources and opportunities (i.e. market linkage, human capital development, financial capital). When I started teaching in 2017, I was able to apply for a small research grant that gave me the opportunity to conduct more trainings for food processors and help the municipality think of opportunities for economic growth. Alabat is a fifth class municipality and this means it belongs to the poorest regions in the Philippines. With 5 as the average family size, per capita income is around PHP 35.00 (or less than 1 USD) a day. When I had the opportunity to handle a Facilities Design course, I invited my students to come up with lodging and restaurant designs so that we could look for possible investors and these might serve as pull factors for tourists. Later on, I met a Professor from the Department of Fishery Production and Management from the National Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology and told me he has built a sustainable fishing model and it can be built in the Philippines. We discussed this model with the Mayor of the area and the Mayor agreed to host the model. I also met an engineer who has the technology to convert ocean wastes into fuel and biomass wastes into packaging materials, among others. Eventually, I came up with the idea that this island can be pushed towards a circular economy. 

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Formerly called Camagong, the island of Alabat was known to be first inhabited by the early families of Caparros during the Spanish colonial period for its abundant fishing grounds and fertile agricultural land, followed by other immigrants from the neighboring towns like Gumaca and Tayabas. The name ‘ALABAT’ was first coined when American expeditionary forces infiltrated the island and asked for the name of the island. Since both parties don’t speak the same language, instead of the island’s name CAMAGONG, the local thought the American forces were asking for the balustrade at his doorstep, which is named ALABAT. The first inhabitants of the island were the Negritos, the earliest settlers in the Philippines.

 Located in the southern part of Luzon (IV A CALABARZON), in the province of Quezon, the island of Alabat is one of the three municipalities in the island, together with Perez and Quezon. It is surrounded by great bodies of water. The most prominent ones being the Pacific ocean which is on the east of the island and on the west, the Lamon Bay. 

The municipality of Alabat has a total land area of 5,759.7671 hectares and there are a total of 19 barangays in the Municipality of Alabat. The municipal government is situated at the Municipal Compound, Brgy. 1 Poblacion, Alabat, Quezon. The municipal government has thirteen offices which perform different functions in line with the delivery of basic services to its constituents as mandated by the LGC.

As an agricultural municipality, Alabat prides itself from its farms. The farms ranges from coconut, rice, cacao to calamansi, sili, and honey. Being surrounded by bodies of water, Alabat also thrives in the field of fisheries. 

 Alabat is a fifth class municipality. The average annual income of the island is at 5 million pesos but not less than ten million pesos. Average family income of locals in the municipality is PHP 5,245.00. With 5 as the average family size, per capita income is around PHP 35.00 a day. Sources of livelihood of the locals living in Alabat are: agriculture (coconut, rice, and vegetables farming and livestock and poultry productions), fisheries (fishing and aquaculture), construction jobs (masonry and carpentry), delivery services (hauling), wholesale and retail services (groceries and sari-sari stores), IT based services (Computer shops), manufacturing (furniture and handicrafts), tourism (lodging houses and resorts accommodations), microscale mining (gravel and sand), and utilization of forest products. The locals are organized into cooperatives according to the products they process or produce. Beginning 2016, the local government has pushed for organic agriculture and to date, all farmers use organic farming method. 

Alabat has four beaches (Punta, Catmon, Gordon, Pulong Pasig), waterfall, mountains, and a fish sanctuary. They have a cacao farm, coco sugar processing far, sili farm, and a bee farm, which they use to boost their tourism. The island has four major festivals: Sto. Nino Festival; Town Fiesta; Coconut Festival; and Sili Harverst Festival. They also celebrate their founding anniversary every 15th of May. 

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Current Food System Challenges (2020)

1. Low fish stocks in Lamon Bay and Pacific Ocean

2. Ocean wastes (i.e. used fish nets, plastic packaging, etc.)

3. Low economic activity

4. Lack of market linkage

5. Low job opportunity

6. High incidence of poverty

Future Food System Challenges (2050) 

1. Steady flow of tourist traffic 

2. Good governance

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

A sustainable fishing model will be set-up. This will ensure that the fish population can remain productive and healthy and can adapt to changing environmental circumstances. A floating restaurant, together with a lodging facility, will then be set-up to attract tourists, generate demand for fish and tourist products (i.e. local food products such as coco sugar, honey, ginger tea, rice cakes, etc.), and generate jobs for the community. Alabat Island can be developed into a destination but will need to develop and improve its hospitality and related services and facilities and gastronomic branding. This will increase the economic activities of the area which is expected to achieve food security and alleviate poverty in the area.The R-one technology will then be used to re-manufacture ocean wastes and agriculture wastes into high-value products, such as construction materials, packaging materials, and fuel. These materials will then be used by the community, food processors, and fishing boats bringing tourists around the island. 

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

The island of Alabat will generate 0 waste and its community will have a viable income.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?


Agriculture sector

Alabat Island in Quezon province remains to be an untapped area as a tourist destination. It has undeveloped agricultural resources which can be sources of economic development. There are also existing food products (such as coco sugar, cassava chips, honey, ginger tea), which need process improvement and have the potential  to compete with the local and international market. The farmers and producers are on subsistence farming or production due to lack of access to more lucrative markets. This limits their earning capabilities, which make them live below the poverty level.  Most of the residents have low capital to process quality goods and services. Institutional support is also limited.

The local government has set up some small infrastructures for processing but will need further assistance in terms of process and product standardization and operational efficiency.

Fishery Sector

Alabat Island is surrounded by Pacific Ocean and Lamon Bay, which are home to various species of fish. The fishery sub-sector is composed of coastal fishing, deep sea fishing, and aquaculture. The island has seventeen coastal barangays and has a fishing household of 1,180 fishermen.

 Alabat produces 825.0 MT annually for municipal fisheries and 3,300 MT for commercial fisheries. It also employs brackish aquaculture (semi-intensive culture) and has a total area of 146 hectares and produces 61,000 MT annually. All fish sectors in the island produce 206, 575 MT. Fisherfolks are grouped into seven, with specific functions to protect the municipal waters. The local government continuously support the fishery sector but is constrained by the lack of funds for logistical support, technology for coastal resource management, and livelihood development for fishing facilities.


The island of Alabat consists of numerous beaches such as Kabila Beach, Pulong Pasig, Catmon Beach, and Gordon Beach. It is also home for a fish sanctuary, where people can see the wonders of the sea. Aside from the rich marine biodiversity of the island, Alabat also promotes agritourism through the farms in the island such as Marcelina RAAT Cacao Farm, A’s Integrated Food Products Coco Farm, Calamansi and Sili Farm, and Tres Princesitas Stingless Bee Farm. 

 Alabat’s tourism has grown throughout the years, from a total of 838 tourists both foreign and local (but mostly local) in 2014, it has ballooned into 5,626 just three years after. As soon as the tourist areas on the island started gaining tourists, homestays and other lodging facilities has started to prosper in the island. The island has great potential for ecotourism. But for the growth to thrive, the government shall focus on constant improvement of infrastructure and facilities of the island and sufficient allocation of funds

The local government's vision is to be a 'Paradise Island of Alabat' and its mission are to sustainably develop the municipality and to become a peaceful, progressive, beautiful, and happy place in Alabat Island. Their objectives are to improve the health of the population, improve the level of literacy and spirituality, improve economic condition, and peace and order. The area has a 0 crime rate and the community works collaboratively to improve their living conditions. 

Full Vision:

A circular economy enables sustainable production and consumption and a push towards zero waste through remanufacture, re-use, and waste-derived utilization of energy along the value chain. Sustainable fishery production and management will enable optimum fish production that will enhance economic growth through steady supply of fishery products. This, together with a floating restaurant and a lodging facility, will serve as pull factors for tourism. The restaurant and the lodging facility will also be able to highlight local cuisines that will promote the culinary characteristic of the area. Wastes generated from these activities will then be re-manufactured into high value products, such as fuel and biodegradable food packaging materials. 


[1] Fish List (Doc.). (n.d). Municipal Government of Alabat 

[2] AGRICULTURE (Rep.). (n.d.). Municipal Government of Alabat

[3] 2017 Brief Profile of Alabat (n 1), 2

[4] AGRICULTURE (Rep.) (n 3)

[5] TOURISM (Rep.) (n.d.) Municipal Government of Alabat

[6] ALABAT TOURIST ARRIVALS (Rep.) (2017). Municipal Government of Alabat 

[7] 2017 Brief Profile of Alabat (n 1)

[8] FORESTRY (Rep.) (n.d.) Municipal Government of Alabat

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