DOT’s Alternative Livelihood Training Program signals hope and recovery as Oriental Mindoro’s tourism industry bounces back after oil spill woes

Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro—Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco led the culmination of the “Bayanihan sa Bukas na may Pag-Asa sa Turismo (BBMT)” Alternative Livelihood Training program on Monday (Oct. 23) at the Balai Mindoro Convention Center, which trained over 1,300 oil spill affected tourism workers in the province. 

This event, along with the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program, recognized the resilience and unity of the province’s tourism workers who were affected by concerns brought about by the oil spill crisis. 

Secretary Frasco together with Oriental Mindoro Governor Hurmelito “Bonz” Dolor and Vice Governor Ejay Falcon, led the distribution of certificates to representatives of 31 Community-Based Sustainable Tourism Organizations (CBSTOs) across various cities and municipalities of the province, as a way to honor the organizations’ members who have successfully completed the BBMT. 

132 Start-Up Kits for Beadwork and Lei Making Training were also distributed to the City of Calapan and the Municipality of San Teodoro. 

On the sidelines of the event, the tourism chief also surprised the tour guides of the region by giving out tour guiding kits which include essentials such as a wireless lapel microphone, sunscreen, hat, notebook, ballpen, and tumbler that will aid them in their work. 

“Nakita ko po kung gaano kahirap yung nadatnan ninyo dahil sa krisis na dala ng oil spill. And yet, none of the difficulties you have faced have served to faze your strength of spirit. And for me, this ultimately reminds us that despite the challenges, despite the suffering, despite the trials, the strength of spirit of the Filipino people will always prevail,” said Secretary Frasco in her speech.

“It is because of the conscious effort of your government here in Oriental Mindoro to build upon the strength of both your hard infrastructure and your soft infrastructure that we in the DOT have the confidence to say that while it has only been a few months since the oil spill, we can very well see already the robust recovery of tourism in Oriental Mindoro,”  she added.

Earlier this year, the MT Princess Empress oil tanker sank off the coast of Tablas Strait in Balingwan Point, Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, causing severe damage to the marine environments in the province and neighboring areas. This also sorely affected the livelihoods of the component cities and municipalities of the province that depend on tourism. 

The DOT recognized the urgency of providing immediate assistance during the crisis, thus, the BBMT was conceptualized to give a series of alternative livelihood training programs specifically designed for CBSTOs and tourism workers affected by the oil spill. The training programs sought to equip participants with new skills and open up new avenues for income generation for the workers amid the oil spill crisis. The said training sessions ran from April 24 until June 27. 

‘Iyong mga training na ginawa ng DOT, napakalaking tulong nito sa amin. Nagkaroon po kami ng extra income tulad po ng massage,” Jasmine Quirubin, President of the Malubay Eco-Tourism Association said, one of the recipients of both the BBMT and TUPAD programs.  

The BBMT training series encompassed sessions in Farm Tourism: Urban Farming, Tourism Micro Retail: Beadwork and Lei Making, Food Tourism: Kulinarya Training, Health and Wellness Tourism: Hilot Training, and Basic Haircutting Training.  

Extending assistance through TUPAD 

Aside from alternative livelihood training programs, the DOT and the DOLE have agreed to extend the labor department’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program to the oil spill-affected workers, a community-based package of assistance that provides emergency employment for displaced workers, underemployed, and seasonal workers.  

A total of 547 beneficiaries received financial assistance from the TUPAD program amounting to 3,550 pesos each, 154 of whom hail from the Municipality of Gloria and were recognized during the event.

Prior to the event, tourism workers from Calapan City and the municipalities of Roxas, Mansalay, and Naujan already received the financial grants while the municipalities of Pola, Pinamalayan, and Bulalacao are currently implementing the TUPAD Program and expected to have its schedule of payout by early November. 

Oriental Mindoro is ready for tourists 

A popular destination for snorkeling and diving, Oriental Mindoro is known for its beaches and falls that capture the natural beauty of the province such as the White Beach and Tamaraw Falls in Puerto Galera, as well as the cultural richness present in the different indigenous groups in the province such as the Mangyan.  

As of October 18, the province recorded 334,588 tourist arrivals, generating over Php 3.5 Billion in visitor receipts thus far. 

The tourism chief invited guests to visit and experience the beautiful province of Oriental Mindoro, which has shown resilience amid the oil-spill crisis it has gone through. 

“I invite all our fellow Filipinos and friends from all over the world to visit Oriental Mindoro and to enjoy all the wonderful destinations here as well as all the offerings that they have in terms of their heritage, their culture, their dive sites, ‘yong mountainscapes nila ang ganda ganda, pati na rin po ‘yong kanilang mga local communities, community-based tourism organizations that have all been trained under the Department of Tourism’s alternative skills training program,” Secretary Frasco enthused. 

The tourism chief also reported that there are two major projects set for Oriental Mindoro which include the construction of a tourist rest area and the putting up of a hyperbaric chamber for the thriving dive destination. 

“The best thing now is that they [tourism workers] put not only the knowledge but also the assistance from DOT to practice. They have increased already their income, and the alternative livelihood training given by the DOT and the Department of Labor [and Employment] has produced more graduates, more employment, more income to revitalize the tourism industry,” Governor Dolor added, emphasizing the vital role the DOT has played in aiding the oil spill affected tourism workers. 




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