I was invited by the Northwestern Ecotourism Park and Botanic Gardens (NUEBG) and the Philippine Native Plant Conservation Society to present the Ecotourism Status of Ilocos Norte at the 2nd Northwesterniana Forum attended by avid plant lovers, conservationists, botanists, horticulturists and Department of Natural Resources (DENR) officials. DENR NCR Director Tony Manila was there. Emcee Jasper Obico beat me saying “We’re facebook friends” and “Status: It’s complicated.”
I quit government service after my contract expired and opted to be a full-time adventurer/blogger, promoting my province as a tourist destination, so I had to base my presentation on firsthand view. Out of the different types of tourism, ecotourism is the most maligned concept. To be able to classify a natural site of ecological importance an ecotourism area, all the three key aspects should be present — environment protection, community participation and livehood, working in synergy with each other. Ilocos Norte is abundant in natural places of beauty, and we are in dire need of ecotourism programs, involving communities as stewards and direct benefieciaries, to be able manage these beautiful places responsibly and sustainably.
Only through NUEBG manager Michael Calaramo’s presentation that co-speaker Shermon Cruz and I learned we have acorns in the province. Michael pointed out that there are so many beautiful native plants for urban greening other than bougainvillea:)
Plant lovers like Michael are nuts about plants. You’ll be amazed about the number of native plants we have in the country. Just like natural tourist sites, these plants need to be conserved for future generations.
There’s an endemic hoya-like specie named after Col Ben Nicolas, former president of the Northwestern Unversity. Visit the newly opened Asclepiadarium and Orchidarium of the NUEBG, a gem of a living museum of flora.