Travel day from Oslob to Cebu City - let's make some reflections together:
Cebu is an Island in the Philippines, mostly famous for the Whale Shark watching - what also got us there as tourists - and also a couple waterfalls.
Cebu city is the second biggest city in the country. Very busy and crowded city. The island has many different municipalities, being the most famous one Oslob, for the whales.
Even though the island is still full of beautiful nature, waterfalls, blue see, tropical forest ... all perfect for a touristic paradise in earth, it is still not there. Very little infrastructure and services, with poverty standing out all over the island. It ends up attracting people looking for cheap places to go and for to the increasingly exploitation of the Whale Shark watching.
Huge potential, no doubt, but I started to question myself about how could a transformation take place in order to use the place's potential, not to destroy it and improve population life condition.
So I wanted to propose a collaborative exercise with you guys: try to get to a consistent idea on what actions could be taken to make this place better.
Other places we visited have also raised similar questioning, but here, in my opinion, the set up spicy the challenge up. Big population (~3 million people), quite a big area, many cities and municipalities including a big developing city with all the problems it brings together, plus a flair of Latin culture - very similar in many aspects to Brazil and Latin America - so not very disciplined as their Asian neighbors. It seems that corruption plays a strong part in the Philippines politics as well. Good set up for a big challenge.
I believe there's still one more challenge affecting peoples life style and business: everything is very cheap... it feels to me that products and services are under valued (and probably so the workforce value as well)... that makes a sort of harsh barrier entrance at first. People here probably deal with barely-survival-profit-margins that might lead into a culture (both locals and tourists) of little williness to pay for better services.
So... what could one do to improve systematically the life quality in the island? Let's assume that the biggest economical potential is tourism (I don't have enough knowledge about the place for other assumptions) in order to make the exercise.
Final considerations for the exercise:
I'm having a hard time getting to a conclusion on the balance between protecting (closing or charging) the nature vs. people's freedom (and accessibility/affordability) to interact with nature. When we talk about tourism as main economical potential, we cannot avoid this discussion... should the nature be charged in order to be able to build a structure to protect it? At the expense that just people who can afford it be able to have access?
Obviously, always the simplest solution would be a strong government with adequate public policies and structural investments in place. But it's at the same time the hardest way to actually happen, as we always depend on electing someone that have a longer term strategy for good public policies. We can even discuss some public policies, but I think a discussion on how business, civil associations and social enterprises can take part are a much more productive discussion, as we can inspire action on the problems and opportunities rather than keeping hoping we will get all the necessary political conditions to solve them for us.
With all that said! Really want to ask your comments, ideas and suggestions for answering: what could we do to create opportunities and to improve the life in Cebu island by tackling its tourism potential?
We'll add our ideas with the comments and we can post a compilation and conclusion of the exercise afterwards. It's a conceptual discussion, but we might be able to inspire action with it (it can be for Cebu, for Palawan, for Ilha Grande or any other place with similar set up!)! :)
Would be awesome to have some Filipinos giving their thoughts as well! As we are borrowing some of your challenges, using as inspiration to solve our own in Brazil