Monday, May 21, 2012

In good grace part two in Isabela

For the Isabela trip, we had to be at the mini-summit on day one and then headed off to San Mariano for the release of head-started crocodiles from its rearing station  to the wilds at Dunoy Lake still in San Mariano but within the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park (NSMNP).

The group I was with were Zoo Keepers and animal lovers from all over the world as well as sponsors of the Philippine Crocodile Conservation Efforts since 1999. We were all ready to rough it out in the wilds for the sake of the Philippine Crocodile, and indeed we all had a great time sleeping on tents and riding on specially crafted six wheeler trucks over mountains and hills!

The Philippines have saltwater or estuarine crocs and freshwater crocs or the Crocodylus Mindorensis. For this project, the foundation is specifically takes care of the freshwater crocs. They are small (3 meters for male and 2.5 meters for the female) and are endemic to the Philippines. They are now endangered because of hunting and deforestation since they live in freshwater wetlands, creeks, rivers and marshes. They feed on insects, snails, fish, birds and small animals. The presence of a large number of people in the areas where they live impacts strongly on their habitat being lost especially to large scale farming like kaingin or slash and burn.

The release of 12 crocs at Dunoy Lake was the highlight of the trip as seen in the pictures
At the end of the trip, the reward was not just the freshwater crocodile experience but the bird watching accounts were also very promising.

The release of crocodiles

Mr. Chris Banks

Juvenile crocs feel good!

Mr. Shaun, the coke guy of NatGeo

Mr. Lacoste is peeling a ficus fruit and gave it around to taste after
By now I have held five crocodylus mindorensis since I started working with the Mabuwaya Foundation through Merlijn Van Weerd.  Will write my press release at the :)

In good grace at Sta. Ana, Cagayan

I had the good grace to be assigned to two exciting events these past few days … I owe the Department of Tourism (DOT, Region 2) the challenge to be there.

First, I was asked to facilitate two trainings in Sta. Ana, Cagayan: Frontline Service Management (FSM)also known as Effective Customer Service and Tourist Reception and Guiding Techniques (TRGT) last May 14-17, 2012. The following day I have to go to Isabela for the Mini-Summit for the Crocodile Conservation Project of the Mabuwaya Foundation from May 18-21, 2012.

The TRGT participants at Nangaramuan Beach
The Monkey Rock on its stomach
The training in Sta. Ana proved to be a very challenging one because the DOT and the LGU of Sta. Ana had to make sure that the trainees will be equipped with the necessary skills to face the challenges of the tourism  industry in the future. The participants profile for the FSM  include non-working professionals as well as out-of-school  youths and frontline service providers.

 For the TRGT, we had 24 participants at the start but was trimmed down to 19 on the last day, some chose not to continue with the training maybe because they think they cannot take the heat. Participants had to pass some oral exams and a mock tour which allowed each one to act as a tour guide while inside a bus and while visiting the destinations in the town  as well as while inside the training room. During the last day, everyone was graded by the trainer and DOT officials.
A view from the top of the aka sleeping dragon

The trainees will serve as local tour guides in the town of Sta. Ana in the northeast of the Province of Cagayan. Preferred destinations include the Boacag waterfalls, St. Anthony Museum, Nangaramuan local Beach, San Vicente Port, Crab Farms and local resort facilities.