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FROM FISHERS TO BIRDERS: THE BOJO RIVER STORY

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FROM FISHERS TO BIRDERS: THE BOJO RIVER STORY

The municipality of Aloguinsan, Province of Cebu, Philippines is a 3rd class municipality which is located at the remote place in southwest part of the province. It consists of 15 Barangays with 3 coastal areas, and one of it is Barangay Bojo where the hidden beauty of Bojo River lies.

 

The main livelihood of the locals are fishing, farming and being a laborer. It’s disheartening that dissatisfaction and ignorance of the law can sometimes lead to illegal practices like fishing and farming. The Local Government Unit ( LGU) of Aloguinsan find a sustainable and legal alternatives that could help preserve the environment and promote responsible practices in the community like “sustainable tourism”.

In 2009, the LGU of Aloguinsan conducted various training workshops and seminars for fishermen, farmers and housewives about ecotourism and sustainable tourism. After 4 months of undergoing the different trainings, the BOJO ALOGUINSAN ECOTOURISM ASSOCIATION ( BAETAS )  was organized and launched the Bojo River Eco-Cultural Tour on June 14, 2009  to the tourists which aims at preserving and protecting the 1.4 km river where 24 species of mangroves, 61 species of birds live,  the different species of corals in the Tañon Strait, conserve local culture and tradition, promote the town and having sustainable livelihood.

Not long after opening to the public, it captivated the interest of both local and international tourists. From 2009 up to 2022 the tourist arrival reached up to 300,000 which earns a total receipts of 39.5 million pesos, 896,000 pesos for community projects, have help 4,000 families and invested 3 million pesos for the infrastructure.

BAETAS implemented different projects and programs that can help the local people such as conducting medical mission, feeding program, giving assistance to the elderly, giving school supplies and funding scholarship program. Additionally, BAETAS is implementing a program for mangrove rehabilitation and reforestation, along with monthly river and coastal clean-ups.

In 2015 up to present the Bojo River received 4 National awards and 6 International Awards such as: 

  • UNEP PATA INSPIRE AWARD Philippines, 2015, ASEAN AWARD Singapore, 2017,

  • 2016 GLOBAL TOP 100 SUSTAINABLE DESTINATION AWARD Slovenia, September 2016,

  • 2017 GLOBAL TOP 100 SUSTAINABLE DESTINATION AWARD Portugal, September 2017,

  • 2018 GLOBAL TOP 100 SUSTAINABLE DESTINATION AWARD Germany, September 2018,

  • 2021 BEST ECOTOURSIM VILLAGES, December 2021, and

  • LOCAL TOURISM AWARD AT 31ST SKAL INTERNATIONAL MAKATI TOURISM AWARDS ON OCTOBER 26, 2023, Philippines.

    LOCAL TOURISM AWARD AT 31ST SKAL INTERNATIONAL MAKATI TOURISM AWARDS ON OCTOBER 26, 2023, Philippines.

     

Fortuitously, numerous opportunities have arrived in our association. We partnered with different travel agencies and government agencies providing fundings. Additionally, we successfully collaborated with various. universities. Recently, we have a new partnership with Erasmus+  project through “ECOVIP. This project can help our association  broaden our campaign about responsible travel, not only in local market but also in the international market.

As the United Nations created the Sustainable Development Goals, this project answers some of the SDG’s such as “No to Poverty, this project helps the local community to have an alternative income that help them in financial problem; Good Health and well-being” one of objective of this project is to preserve and protect the environment where it can lead to clean and fresh air as well as healthy environment; “Gender equality” that is project treat men and women equally because some the paddlers guide are women; “ To provide decent work for local people and improve the economic growth of the town by providing livelihood for fishermen, farmers and housewives. The association contributes the local government around 5 million since the project started in 2009.

Women welcome the guests with local song.

Fishermen as local interpreter

Today, Bojo River plays a significant role in our town, contributing in our economy through tourism, bringing fame to our town, providing livelihoods for our members and being recognized as one of  the ecotourism destinations in the  Philippines.