Creating Change Champions

Week four of our GUI Fellowship began with us finally turning in our first deliverable – the comprehensive assessment of El Nido Resorts’ (ENR) sustainability practices. All of you may be wondering if we are actually getting to do any work with this exquisite and breathtaking backdrop consisting of the islands. Actually, we have spent approximately three weeks investigating, analyzing, and writing about ENR’s unique approach to environmental sustainability and conservation, as well as maintaining operational efficiency and profitability. During these past couple of weeks, I discovered that the company’s emphasis on education to be most remarkable element of the El Nido strategic vision. In particular, I have come to believe that ENR’s commitment to the education of its staff is one of the most impactful ways the company is creating a lasting legacy for the sustainable growth and development of the greater community. It is often said that “education is key to alleviating poverty.”  I have always believed that to be true, as I have witnessed how parents strive and struggle to give the best education that they can afford for their children, if nothing else. But never, until I started my stint as a GUI fellow in ENR, have I keenly observed and appreciated the vast potential of staff training and education as a powerful means of achieving greater community empowerment and development.

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Kuya Henry, the manager of ENR’s natural farm, gave us a crash course on how the farm manages its produce. Needless to say, we are in awe of the work Kuya Henry is doing to innovate and expand ENR’s natural farm.

The staff’s education is largely structured by the Be G.R.E.E.N training program launched by the environmental department in 2007, as well as the Nature Interpretation training modules provided mainly to ENR’s marine sports guides. Topics and concepts covered include ecological solid waste management, water conservation, energy conservation, biodiversity conservation, and El Nido’s environmental laws. What should be noted about these training programs is that the knowledge provided by these activities endeavor to institutionalize a meaningful change in personal behavior and attitudes towards the environment that can be applied outside the confines of ENR. I have been able to discern that the education provided by ENR, specifically by its environmental department, is not about memorization, but demonstration and action. ENR has opted for a form of experiential learning rather than a traditional classroom setting to foster and internalize a culture change rather than a mere exchange of information. Through this method, ENR’s training programs allow staff members the opportunity to apply what they are learning within the resorts in their own homes and local communities as a way of life.  In this sense, the knowledge provided to staff on the wildlife found in El Nido, the current issues that plague El Nido’s environment, as well as the measures to better take care of this environment are all part and parcel of how we should live our lives and treat our surroundings no matter where we are. I am awed by how ENR has created and continues to support a well-informed and well-rounded staff; a staff that has become more and more eager to participate in and passionately live out ENR’s overall commitment to sustainability and environmental conservation. ENR is cultivating a team of change champions that has the potential to take fuller responsibility for the beauty, safety and viability of their homes and Mother Earth.

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This is Kuya Rey, ENR’s Environmental Enforcement Officer. He is in charge of the company’s Material Recovery Facility – the first of its kind in the whole El Nido municipality. He proved to be an invaluable resource regarding ENR’s waste management practices.

All in all, through our team’s investigation into El Nido Resorts and my personal examination of ENR’s educational efforts, my expectations and goals coming into the program have already been validated. I initially applied to the GU Impacts program because I believed that our study would revolve around the work done by organizations and social enterprises in the public, private and non-profit sectors. I believed, or rather I hoped that the GU Impacts program would bolster and complement the scholarship and exploration I am starting to do as a declared Global Business Major. In the four short weeks that I have been here, I have an even deeper appreciation and more informed confidence in my decision to be a Global Business Major. ENR is a real life demonstration of what I have always envisioned the role and potential of the private sector in the development not only of localized communities, but also the greater global society. With the international networks of firms, the rising value of corporate social responsibility and the growth of public-private partnerships, the responsibility and influence of the private sector are continuing to expand. I feel incredibly privileged to be here in El Nido and look forward to what I will continue to learn as a fellow here this summer. Amid all the splendor of the islands is this awesome group of people with a program that shapes the minds and hearts of a community that will make sure that this unspeakable beauty will never be lost.

Giniel Mae Tiongson is a budding Environmental scientist from the Ateneo de Tiongson, Ginny.pngManila University. She leads an active life on and off campus. She currently serves as the Vice President for Human Resources of the Ateneo Environmental Science Society, the Loyola School’s premiere environmental organization. She also did volunteer works with local and indigenous communities at the Tamaraw Conservation Program and Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park Protected Area Office in Mindoro, Philippines. At present, she is doing a research on coral-algal phase shift as influenced by anthropogenic eutrophication in Puerto Galera, one of the most popular tourist spots and dive sites in the Philippines. She aims to make a significant contribution in bridging the gap between the scientific and non-scientific communities through the communication of information, problems, and solutions in a language digestible to stakeholders from different backgrounds.

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