Indisputably, the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) is the Crown Jewel. However, the crown comprises other gems that are as amazing as the PPUR. With guidance from the management of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP), polishing these gems has become the mission of 22 indigenous people’s organizations (IPOs) and people’s organizations (POs). This mission is aligned with the City Government’s vision to attain inclusive economic growth through the development and strengthening of community- based eco-tourism sites. However, a vision is not the only solution because everything depends on execution.
The effort that the PPSRNP management has exerted clarified that the vision is attainable. The process has been long and arduous; but the resilience that the organizations has shown resulted in the boldness that characterize the intention to partner with the PPSRNP in the implementation of the National PPUR Day Celebration.
Owing to the effective management of the UNDP SGP5-assisted projects, the number of organizations that became interested in participating in the efforts of PPSRNP increased. From the original 14 organizations, the number has grown to 22. With approximately 2,000 members, the network that PPSRNP is building is a force that could transform the challenge of highlighting the local initiatives in a national event into concrete steps and mechanics that could ensure the success of the event. After all, there is strength in number.
Nevertheless, it is not only in numbers that strength can be measured. An organized number of people is an assurance of focused work. At present, the network is being formalized. The 22 organizations have been divided into clusters as follows:
- IP Cluster
- Community-based Sustainable Tourism (CBST) Cluster
- Experience Enhancer (Service Provider) Cluster
- Youth Cluster
- Women Cluster
- Agriculture Cluster
Likewise, cluster meetings are being conducted to discuss the organization of the People’s Council. Envisioned as a legislative body of the 22 organizations, the council is similarly intended to serve as the wellspring and the PPPSRNP’s co-implementer of ideas that are related to celebrations, such as the Araw ng Taraw and possibly, the National PPUR Day Celebration.
BIODIVERSITY AS LYNCHPIN
One of these ideas is emphasizing the concerted action for biodiversity protection. The network not only understands but embodies the natural relationship between biodiversity protection and economic benefit of tourism in the PPSRNP.