LGU Bayog benchmarks good practices in Luzon
Bayog LGU Officials, department heads and key officials underwent to a 3-day cross learning from March 7-11, 2018 to the Municipalities of Cavinti, and Majayjay, all in Laguna Province and at Villar Foundation, Las Pinas City to benchmark on the good practices in tourism and solid waste management of the said local government units (LGUs).
The team was divided into two groups based on the participants’ flight schedule to Manila. The first group arrived in Laguna at past 2:00PM while the others made it to the venue late in the afternoon. They stayed at the Caliraya Mountain Lake Resort just right beside Lake Caliraya in the Municipality of Cavinti. It is a peaceful place which is set up on top of the mountain of a 300 hectare property, a perfect place for golf course, zip line, fishing areas and restaurants. The stillness of the lake is very nice and where one can explore its beauty by renting a boat.
Although it was raining, but the beauty of the resort still exudes. They took the Bahay Kubo accommodation; and everybody was excited on what will happen next after the arrival.
On the following day, right after breakfast, the Municipal Treasurer, of LGU Cavinti under the leadership of Mayor Milbert Oliveros, met them (Bayog delegation) for the ceremonial welcome at its Municipal Government Center. The participants were delighted to see the welcome streamer before the two-story building’s entrance. Upon their arrival, the officials and heads of the offices cordially met handshakes. As they walked towards the 2nd floor, some personnel sang welcome songs and ushered them to seats. There were also dancers in their best costume and performance… drinks were offered to some members of the team.
After the brief orientation of the town, each was given a souvenir: an item made out of indigenous materials (a briefcase and a sambalilo), biko, and a shirt. They also went around the LGU to observe how the different offices manage their functions.
The LGU offered a festive lunch at the Caliraya Golf Club House, a 5,000 sq. m. Spanish-Mediterranean inspired place overlooking the golf course. Sumptuous foods were served at the veranda, and it was indeed a hearty meal! And after the group picture taking, they all went off to some of their tourism sites in the place.
Cavinti is a 3rd class municipality just like Bayog, but they are blessed to have beautiful sceneries which are now turned into tourist destinations like the Caliraya Resort, Caliraya Paradise Resort, Cavinti Underground River & Caves, Pueblo El Salvador Natures Park and Bumbungan Eco Park, a nature and wildlife areas. The town also holds a Guinness World Record for having the “Largest Sambalilo” or native hat since August 1, 2016. Every year the Sambalilo Festival is organized in the said town, and the hat is always part of the celebrations as it promotes tourism in Cavinti.
Day 2 of the cross learning was spent for Majayjay, a 4th class municipality of Laguna. Likewise, they cordially received the guests and noticeably the warm welcome was indeed genuine. Mayor Carlo Inventor B. Clado introduced the town’s officials and department heads and personally gave the municipality briefer. Meanwhile, the delegates from Bayog took time to take photos as souvenir before taking off to the sites as part of the itinerary.
The first stop was at the St. Gregory Church (Simbahan ng Majayjay) as recommended by Mayor Clado. The church is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines located at Majayjay Town Proper which was built by the Augustinian Missionaries in 1575. It has a giant antique bell reputed to be oldest in the country and relief statues were preserved in this church.
Next to the itinerary was Costales Nature Farms, the top agri-tourism destination in the Philippines found in Barangay Gagalot which lies at the foothills of Mt. Banahaw, Majayjay. Since 2005 it is one of the major single producers of organic, high value vegetables and herbs, organic chicken, eggs and pork for numerous hotels and restaurants and groceries.
The farm was also a nominee for the Top 100 sustainable destination in ITB Berlin in 2016, Sustainable Destinations Global Top 100 in 2014 and in National Geographic Traveler’s Destination Stewardship Survey in 2004-2010. It is an accredited private extension service provider for the Agriculture Training Institute (ATI) of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and Department of Tourism (DOT) which provides workshops on sustainable organic farming and farm tourism.
There was a comprehensive briefing about the farm’s humble beginning and its present successes – organic nature farms were built, the land, the structures and equipment; and the planting techniques employed to each varieties. After we have taken our meal, the exit conference followed and group picture taking, then they went back to Caliraya to rest.
On the next day, they passed by the town of Sta. Rosa to buy some items and continued the trip to Villar Foundation, founded by Sen. Cynthia Villar in Las Piῆas City. The foundation is known for its advocacy in the preservation of the environment, the establishment of social enterprise and livelihood projects from river rehabilitation, as well as the technology to process the waste into useful objects or materials.
With two personnel from the Foundation, they went to see first the recycling plant in Barangay Ilaya, a factory where plastic wastes are turned into armchairs to be distributed to school campuses in Metro Manila. The plant can produce 1,000 armchairs a month, which look like wooden pieces and comes with replaceable parts that is made out of about 24 kilos of mixed “soft plastics” such as those used for food wrappers. They came up with this idea after several researches made that improper disposal of plastic waste is the major cause of clogged drainage, and eventually causes flooding, likewise spreading of diseases.
Accordingly, Villar Foundation’s mission is not only to clean and protect the environment but also to provide livelihood to the poor. The identified beneficiaries in the foundation becomes the workers in the factory who are processing the recycled waste and taking good care of the citronella and bamboo plants at Las Piῆas River banks.
Finally, all were set to prepare for their flight schedules home on Sunday, March 11. The myriad benefits of educational trip are worth the time! It opened LGU Bayog’s door to various opportunities. It had explored new possibilities and gained better understanding on how to fit in with the municipality’s future plans and programs for a more sustainable solid waste management and the development of our tourism. There may be practices which are not yet applicable to Bayog LGU but these may be used as a springboard through some refinement or modifications to some existing processes. - Bernadine A. Gabawan, Municipal Information Officer