Donsol LGU, WWF renew pledge for eco-tourism programs

DONSOL, Sorsogon -- The town of Donsol, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines, and the Department of Tourism 5 (Bicol), have renewed their commitment for a sustainable and balanced eco-tourism program.

Under the renewed agreement, signed Friday on the sidelines of the “Butanding” (Whale Shark) Festival, they would vigorously enforce the protection of these giant sea mammals, which according to studies, are now on the red list as endangered.

They will also intensify their campaign against destructive fishing practices, such as dynamite fishing, which put additional pressure on the whale shark’s population.

Joel Palma of WWF Philippines said in the past 21 years, the WWF has partnered with Donsol to promote environmental stewardship and sustainable tourism in the area, while discouraging harmful fishing practices and the hunting of whale sharks.

At the renewal of commitment signing, Donsol Mayor Josephine Alcantara-Cruz pledged to facilitate the development and improvement of facilities, saying they would manage and maintain the sites and provide safety to tourists.

“With 21 years of conservation work, the partnership has allowed both the whale shark and the local community to flourish as the partnership promises to bring progress and prosperity to Donsol for more years to come,” Cruz said.

Meanwhile, this year's “Butanding” Festival is employing a new approach where the balance between the economics of the festival and environmental concerns has been sustained.

The week-long festival, which began on May 17 and winds up on May 24, features 15 trade, cultural and sports events, three of which are new -- the kayak race, culinary contest, and stakeholders night.

The other events are the launch of the Butanding Pasalubong Showcase; street dance and float competition; food park; Boses Donsolano; Mutya ng Donsol; drum and lyre competition; Barayle sa Banwa; mini-concert; Laro ng Lahi; and a boxing event.

A colorful street presentation took center stage on Friday, along with floats depicting images of the “butanding”. (PNA)