The PEGA Sociocultural and Adventural Exchange

Cultural Exchange 2

The formation of the Philippine EcoGuides Association is a unique story. We are such a tiny group, but assuredly, the different regions in the country are well-represented. It’s that thirst for adventure that keeps us connected. We may live on the opposite ends of the country, but we breathe the same air.  We practically live on the same thing. like Chisum Factura is the pioneer white water rafting outfitter in Cagayan de Oro; Reina Bontuyan, besides being a true-blue adventurer, co-manages Viajero Outdoor Centre, the leading outdoor shop in Northern Mindanao; Tsunami Valenzula is a seasoned kayaker as well as the best tour guide Bulacan can ever have; and Paul Calizo and Jonathan Estrella are assiduous tour guides in Davao. Together with Eric, Reina’s hubby, and new friends, adventurers Jason and Cham Garrido from Leyte, we exchanged ideas about the latest trends in adventure tourism, over Ilocano food at Saramsam, followed by coffee and beer at Johnny Moon. They got me Cagayan de Oro’s famous pastel (yummy yema-filled buns) and Paul brought over mangosteen and durian yema balls and a lovely silk pareo. More than the pasalubong, I appreciate so much the invitation to represent PEGA in the 4th National Tour Guides Convention held in Norte earlier this week.

In addition to the food adventure, got them stoked for LEAD Movement’s indigenous adventure in the Laoag Sand Dunes in La Paz, my turf. It’s that sense of place, pride and ownership that defines the very first sandboarding in Ilocos.

Promised everyone to attend the next convention in CDO a year from now.  Mark Yañez offered to be my river guide! White water rafting, hell yeah!

Cultural Exchange 3Over coffee and beerCultural ExchangeMissy BonBon PastelLaoag Sand DunesLaoag Sand Dunes 4x4 AdventureLaoag Sand Dunes 4x4 AdventureLEAD MovementRagga Mindanao!Wipe'outLa Paz Sand SurfingHeavy Duty SandboardHeavy Duty Sandboard 2TsunamiTsunamiLeyte and CDOSouthern Mindanao Visitors in the North
Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2013

Defining the role of a tour guide in the 4th National Tour Guides Convention in Ilocos Norte

4th National Tour Guides Convention

Together with other five Philippine EcoGuides Association (PEGA) members, I participated in the recently concluded 4th National Tour Guides Convention held in Ilocos Norte.

Headed by President Edwin Al Cuizon, the Philippine Federation of Professional Tour Guide Associations (TGFED) organized the event which aims to professionalize the tour guiding practice and take it to world-class level.

Tourism icons and officials of the Philippine Department of Tourism emphasized the importance of continuous education and buildup for a tour guide to be able to keep up with the ever growing demands of the tourism industry, primarily that the country is in a travel and tourism sunrise.


The important role of the Department of Tourism in SETTING STANDARDS and training COMPETENT TOUR GUIDES was discussed. Also the bright future of local community members as eco tour guides and STEWARDS in responsibly promoting their beautiful locales as a means of alternative livelihood.

What struck me most from the visiting delegations is the tight camaraderie among the associations, the alliance between local government offices and their counterpart tour guide practitioners, with the local tourism officers or RDs chaperoning their co-workers. As DOT Northern Mindanao Director Catalino Chan has poignantly mentioned in his remarks, “We do not compete, we complement.”

Rondalla4th National Tour Guides Convention4th National Tour Guides ConventionGodfather of Philippine Tour Guiding Atty. Bien Claravall

The godfather of Philippine tour guiding Atty. Bien Claravall.

With the unsung heroes of the Ulocos Norte Tourism Office

With the unsung heroes of the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office, perennial tour guides/production assistants, etc., and Michelle Jacinto, President of the Ilocos Accredited Tour Guides in a dinner hosted by Governor Imee Marcos.

Pangasinan Tour Guides and Paul So

Pangasinan Tourism Officer and tour guides and Mr.  Paul So, a tourism icon.

Philippines EcoGuides Association Officers

Officers of Philippine EcoGuides Association, Erwin Valenzuela, Ma. Reina Bontuyan, yours truly and Chisum Factura

Bulacan and IlocosSamiweng Singers

The angelic voices of the world-class Samiweng Singers of the Ilocos Norte National High School in a well-applauded performance.

BusBangui WindmillsBangui WindmillsSaud BeachIlocano FoodEvangeline's, Pagudpud4th National Tour Guides Convention, Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel
DOT Region 1 Director Martin Valera and Laoag Sub-Office Head Ma. Milagros Gonzales

With DOT Region I Director Martin Valera and Laoag Sub-Office Head Ma. Milagros Gonzales, hosts of the Farewell Dinner at the Sierra Madre Ballroom of the Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel.

TGFEDPresident 2013 Edwin Al Cuizon

Up close with TGFed President 2013 Edwin Al Cuizon.

4th National Tour Guides Convention Farewell DinnerAriba

Key people from the Giya-Amihan Mindanao Association, host of next year’s (5th) Tour Guides National Convention. Stoked, like them, I have a year to prepare!

with the Tour Guide of the Year Awardee Ms. Letuli

Meeting the Tour Guide of the Year Awardee, German-speaking Ms. Letuli. Truly an inspiration to the tour guiding community.

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2013

Accidentally yours

Just a few days more and BlauEarth is going into its third year… new look, new feel.

The new blog header is from a set of photos Tarlaqueño Dax Simbol left in my flash drive before leaving Ilocos with our fellow DoT-accredited ecoguides of the Philippine EcoGuides Association.

I wouldn’t have made it to the Philippines’ First Certified Ecoguides if it were not for this bunch of eccentrics, each with a specialization and so much passion for tourism and the environment. Disproving the dictum that familiarity breeds contempt, the ten long days we spent together at the International School of Sustainable Tourism, under the tutelage of Dr. Mina Gabor, fastened us to each other like adhesive.

During their exploration of my hometown, we had to overcome some glitches. Fixing a flat tire without a car jack right in the middle of a jungle is a picnic with PEGA buddies. Humor is innate, and the best survival tool one can ever have.

Eto na, eto na… dobidobido, bidobido…

From left to right, representing Bulacan, Bohol, Bulusan (Sorsogon) and Cagayan de Oro.

Historical last of “The Accidental Tourist”…  RIP, marami ng copycats. Kung hei fat choy!

Photos stolen from the FB accounts of Reina Bontuyan, Philip Bartilet, Erwin “Tsunami” Valenzuela, Chisum Factura, and Glenn Oceña.