I forced myself to get up to attend a prior commitment with NU Tourism students and speak about tourism opportunities in 2020. I got sick all of a sudden from the crazy hectic schedule the past 3 weeks. I had to edit a gazillion photos and squeeze in trekking with CoreTV, hosting UP-AIT tourism students and lecturing 2 sets of visiting tourism and hospitality students of the Lyceum University of Cavite. My life nowadays is centered on tourism, typical of the days when I was working with government sans the stressful politics. I realized it’s more fulfilling when service is not a compromise. I told the students it’s hard to believe I’m not a graduate of any tourism or tourism-related course, but I know precisely how I got myself into selling my hometown. I told them there is no manual if tourism is based on the LEAD Movement track record. We didn’t plan developing ecotourism in Adams prior to our initial explorations in the town nor did we ever plan the sand adventure backyard project to be as big like it is now. Everything was spontaneous but logical.
When I asked the students of Cavite what they enjoyed most in Ilocos, in unison they chorused, “Sand Dunes!” Incidentally, they explored the Laoag La Paz sand dunes with LEAD Movement. It’s heartwarming. We’re independent, we don’t get financial backing from government, we don’t have tarps in the metro, we only have creative LEADers who run a facebook page, blog about sandboarding and help out during media visits and events. Doing things in our own terms is something we are proud of.
To prepare them for a future in tourism, I told them to think out of the box and be original and not generic. Creating something distinct and indigenous over the long term is the better alternative than investing big money on something faddish or a mere duplication. Trends may come and go, but something interesting and unique will outlive the goal, especially if it is to empower and improve the quality of life of the entire community.
I reiterated it’s not a plug, it’s to inspire them to believe in their capabilities. It’s the ILOCANO SPIRIT TO DREAM BIG.