MAITUM, Sarangani ? Out of the hustle and bustle of the city lies the Old Poblacion where children treat crabs as pets and mothers weave nets for their men who fish.
But a main feature is the sanctuary for sea turtles (pawikan), which provides an alternative source of income and a chance for the local government to promote tourism.
The Pawikan Nesting Sanctuary seeks to conserve natural resources.
?We?re all about the preservation of the natural resources and the community that we visit. We bring our clients to untouristy spots where they can learn about the community through immersion,? said Charisse Aquino-Tugade, president of Cultureight Travel, who brought 12 individuals to get first-hand experience of the six-day Ancient South Crash Tour.
The Municipality of Maitum, together with different people?s organizations like Bantay Dagat, put up the sanctuary in 2003, said Elton Galima, Maitum tourism operations assistant.
?The local government is extending more conservation efforts to help preserve the pawikans like the Olive Reedley, Hawksbill, and rain turtle,? added Galima.
In a month, about 10 turtles visit the coast line of Old Poblacion to lay eggs, said Danny Dequiña, caretaker of the Pawikan Sanctuary.
A mother pawikan lays about 100-200 eggs, said Dequiña.
However, only 0.01% of the pawikan survive when released to the sea, said Galima.
Thirteen guests of Cultureight held 200 three-week old Olive Reedley and hawksbill and released them into the Old Poblacion beach, facing the Celebes Sea.
?Only one of the 100 turtles will survive due to opportunist predators like seagulls, crabs, and natural phenomenon like global warming,? said Galima.Aquino-Tugade believes that alternative tourism leads to sustainable tourism.
?We should promote the Philippines in a sustainable way by patronizing local products, riding local transportation, and uplifting the communities that we visit,? said Aquino-Tugade.
Cultureight Travel wanted to take the road less traveled by exploring the unexplored spots in the Philippines.
For more information on Cultureight Travel, check www.cultureight.com.