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Generate Income in Rural Areas thru Tourism


“Building Better Quality of Lives thru Travel and Tourism.”

Project Title: Mt. Pinatubo “Kabuhayan sa Turismo” Project


The Concept

The Mt. Pinatubo “Kabuhayan sa Turismo” Project was envisioned to provide social and economic benefits to the crest-fallen community of Brgy. Sta. Juliana in Capas, Tarlac thru the conduct of ecotourism program.

The project was conceived upon learning of the presence of a number of unexpected visitors to the community who are bound to chance upon the locality on their way up to the crater of Mt. Pinatubo. The local community of Sta. Juliana unaware of the benefits to be derived from any tourism activity played low profile in providing assistance to its accidental tourists. Thus when the tourism regional office came into the picture, the overall outlook of local residents for tourism took on a new twist. Local residents looked up to the newfound activity as their means of enriching their social and economic status in life.

Sta. Juliana was one of the many resettlement sites that were identified by the government as potential targets of mudflow and lahar avalanche. In spite incessant warnings from Phivolcs, local residents remained unperturbed. Until today the community remains intact though poverty-stricken – with no funding support from local or national government.

The project remains in the annals of local tourism history as the primary tool in bringing about positive change in the social and economic status of poverty-stricken population. It prides in the fact that in spite of the absence of funding support from the government, the project stands to be true to its objective of providing better quality of life thru travel and tourism. Economic benefits come in the form of receipts from visitor spending and voluntary contributions from well-meaning people. The project generates funds for the livelihood program and conservation project of the host population through the following fees: conservation fee for each visitor-trekker (P20), commissions from rental of off-road vehicles (P500), guide fee (P500 per day for group of five visitors), sale of certificate of conquest (P50 each), sale of postcards (P20 each) and optional donations for use of toilet facilities (P15 per use), among others.

Target beneficiaries are mostly the local residents of Sta. Juliana numbering to about 3,000 with some 80% belonging to the community of indigenous population called Aetas (some 2,400). This population received the lower end of the stick immediately after the volcanic upheaval of 1991. They were deprived of their only means of livelihood e.g. farming, livestock raising. They were rendered homeless. Now living in Sta. Juliana, the Aetas hope to return to their motherland close to Mt. Pinatubo. But nature seems adamant. The land of promise remains barren and unfit for farming.

The tourism regional office has already prepared for distribution a paper entitled “A Practical Guide in Building Better Quality of Lives” which delineates the procedures and processes involved in preparing the local community with tourism potential for the execution of the Kabuhayan sa Turismo Project. At present, the same module is now undergoing study in a local community in Sapangbato, Angeles City as well as in Sapang Uwak in Porac, Pampanga. Tourists frequent these communities on their way to Mt. Pinatubo.




This paper presents in detail the Mt. Pinatubo Ecotourism “Kabuhayan sa Turismo” Program now being undertaken for the community of Brgy. Sta. Juliana in Capas, Tarlac. It summarizes a strategy in developing the tourism potential of a crest-fallen community as a consequence of a unique advantage – its proximity and accessibility to the volcano. It records the progress made by the community from a sleepy barangay depending on agriculture and debris left by Mt. Pinatubo’s 1991 eruption to a relatively progressive center of tourism activity as a result of its prominence as the gateway to the crater.

The proponent-organization hopes to institutionalize the success story of its ecotourism cum livelihood project and replicate the same initiative in communities similarly situated. It brings to life the need to gain insights into the values, motivations and aspirations of would-be beneficiaries of any tourism initiative. It is an exercise in formulating plans and programs for the enhancement of the tourism potential of a community thru a system whereby the host community develops its own set of institutions and methodologies to effectively carry out its own plan of action.

The end product of this paper is the formulation of a TOURISM DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY that the community would implement for a one - year period. Funding sources for the projects contained in the strategy may be sourced from potential funders (World Bank)), NGOs and tourists themselves (conservation fees and donations).


The proponent wishes to thank the following for their participation in the initial consultative process and planning stage, their contribution in the formulation of this plan and its execution: Department of Tourism – Region III, Holy Angel University, Association of Travel Agencies of Pampanga, 600th Air Base Wing, Phivolcs, National Commission of Indigenous Peoples, Tarlac Federation of Indigenous People, Department of Education, Department of Public works and Highways, Angeles City Tourism Office, Provincial Government of Tarlac, Local Government of Capas, Holiday Inn Resort Clark Field, Laus Group of Companies, Romac Services and Trading Corporation, Dreamtreks.Com, Angeles City Four Wheelers Club and Unetcom, and RJ Pinatubo.


The community of Brgy. Sta. Juliana, some 20 kilometers west of Capas, Tarlac, is one of the less developed communities in Tarlac not only because of its lack of social and economic infrastructures but because of the fact that the community figured quite tragically during the catastrophic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991. The community which lies precariously close to the deadly O’ Donnell river channel was for quite awhile in danger of being wiped out by surging lahar flows from the upper reaches of the volcano. This predicament put on hold any and all proposed infrastructure development for the area including a national high-school building, roads and telecommunication. On account of this predicament, the community experienced economic fluctuations and general decline over the years following the catastrophic event. People became economically dependent on scavenging volcanic debris from Mt. Pinatubo like pumice rocks and charcoal debris. Farmers turned to gathering root crops for sale to traders coming from the local town market. Meanwhile local residents are wary about the dangers of an avalanche.

In early months of 1999, Brgy. Sta. Juliana which has a population of about 3,000 figured quite prominently on the local news that it is slowly becoming a jump-off point for people who dared to trek up to the crater of Mt. Pinatubo. Initial reports reaching the Department of Tourism – Region III (Central Luzon) in June indicated that a growing number of local and foreign tourists constantly passed by the local community on their way to the volcano crater. The report added, however, that local residents maintain a wouldn’t-care-less attitude towards the growing number of visitors. Visitor assistance, if at all, was non-existent. Only a handful thought of serving as guides for trekkers. Quite unfortunately, the local population was totally unaware of the social and economic benefits that tourism can bring to their doorsteps.

The following information details the investigations, consultations including the ongoing operation of an ecotourism program in exploring the tourism potentials of the community while cultivating the mindset of local residents by making them aware of the benefits of tourism – ecotourism in particular – and thereby helping set the directions the community wanted to take.

From this on-site exploration, ecotourism program and other information gathered from various sources a ONE-YEAR TOURISM DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY was prepared for implementation effective January 2004.



Brgy. Sta. Juliana

The concept of ecotourism as an economic vehicle was virtually unknown for most of the local population. People live closely to their local environment – gathering pumice rocks for sale to “denim-stone-washed” traders, harvesting banana crops (“Puso”), charcoal and fishing (called “Imelda” by residents) in a nearby lake. Back in the ‘70s up to the ‘90s people especially the Aetas spent their time gathering spent or unexploded shells, ammunitions and other scraps left by U.S. jet fighters under the so-called Cope Thunder military exercise during the heydays of Clark Air Base. Such pieces of debris are “bartered” to local traders downtown most of the time on a lopsided arrangement.

The proponent thru the tourism regional office initiated an investigation to identify the tourist potential of the community and community’s level of awareness about tourism in general and its accompanying net benefits. The results of investigations and feed-back from consultations with the local community as well as members of the travel trade sector assisted the regional office in:

- developing the mindset of the community in so far as tourism and its net benefits to the community is concerned;

- developing appropriate objectives and strategies for the future direction of Sta. Juliana’s tourism industry;

- recommending ways to organize tourism promotion and marketing;

- identification of specific tourism related proposals for development, improvement or funding;

- broadening community involvement in tourism activities;

- promoting tourism development opportunities and benefits to the local community and prospective investors within and outside the area; and

- preparing long term planning policies.

The quality of the final strategy was enhanced by involvement of the local community. The regional office looked to the members of the community (Aetas and non-Aetas) for information on community values and community assets in order to begin the work of creating appropriate marketing and promotional positioning for Sta. Juliana including physical infrastructure development if necessary.

Organizations Involved and Initial Activities undertaken

When the staff of the partner agency visited the community, organizations existing then were the local barangay council, Sanggunian Kabataan (SK), the traditional organizations of the Aetas (council of elders, federated associations etc) and a loosely managed Mothers’ Club. Among the activities organized by these organizations are a local fiesta in February, Miss Sta. Juliana Beauty Pageant, basketball league, among others.

To begin with, the partner agency undertook preparatory measures to introduce the community to their future direction. Weekly meetings were held with key members of existing social and political institutions. Orientation seminars were held to let people become aware of what tourism can do for them.

Media campaign was launched to introduce the project to the public. Appeals were made to the travel trade sector in Pampanga to be part of a community-based project.

Initially, we gathered support from the private sector to kick-start the tourism project. Holy Angel University based in Angeles City donated 15 computers to the local community. The school also took part in the conduct of training for mountain guides and homestay. The Association of Travel Agencies of Pampanga contributed funds for the billboards and directional signage including the completion of their basketball court. Soon Holiday Inn Resort Clark Field took part by donating sets of uniforms for mountain guides, benches, beddings and kitchen utensils.

Meanwhile, tourism was slowly becoming a way of life of local residents as local and foreign visitors start coming in droves. A “Kabuhayan sa Turismo” project was organized together with the private sector to give meaning to all these initiatives.

To establish an impact on the tourism public, proponent organized the Mt. Pinatubo Trek every November 30 to seek the support of the tourism industry in helping build better quality of lives. Yearly some P100,000 was gathered as a common fund from this annual event alone. Companies like Laus Group of Companies and Romac Services and Trading Corporation contributed their resources.

This year, the office launched its Mt. Pinatubo Trek on November 30 with the same purpose of generating public awareness on the need to protect and preserve the natural and social environment. Immediately following the ecotourism event of the year, some PhP100,000 was donated by participating trekkers. The amount will hence be utilized to help develop local community projects for conservation purposes.

Lately, a move was initiated to make Congress sponsor a bill to declare Mt. Pinatubo as a protected and ecotourism area with both the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Department of Tourism responsible in developing a management and development plan for the area. The bill is yet pending in the House.

Current Tourism Product

The community of Sta. Juliana has no viable tourism product to begin with. It is one of those rural communities found in backcountry environment. Its tourism potential lies on its convenient location as a stop-over for Pinatubo trekkers, its warm and hospitable people and the presence of an Aeta settlement, among other things. The strength of the community lies therefore on its proximity and accessibility to the volcano crater (some 30 kilometers to Botolan, Zambales where the crater is situated), the presence of some 2,400 culture-bound indigenous people called Aetas and the willingness of local residents to build a better quality of life.

Tourism Appeal

Sta. Juliana’s tourism appeal is absolutely unknown and unrecognized by both residents and visitors to the area. But definitely the community could be transformed into a tourism destination as the “accidental” host community to visitors trekking to the world-renowned crater. Little did they know that such a transformation could create economic livelihood for local people.

It has the potential to become a hub of activity as a visitor assistance and reception area (log-in for tourists, services of mountain guides, porters, interpreters, brochures, souvenirs to bring home, etc.), a showcase of cross-cultural exchange, host to overnight guests in need of accommodation (homestay) and a showcase for ecotourism development and environmental protection.

Visitation and Trends

In the beginning, market analysis for the area is hardly known as little information was collected. The local barangay council couldn’t account for the influx of tourists as they demonstrated a low level of interest on tourism prior to the arrival of the tourism regional office.

From anecdotal evidence it appears that the type of visitor to Sta. Juliana generally falls into one of two groups:

- Day trekkers (trekking to the crater and back the same day); and

- Overnight trekker (camping out on designated areas near the crater)

Day trekkers comprise about 75% of total visitors while overnight trekkers comprise about 25%. Visitors to the area generally come from Metro Manila and nearby provinces like Tarlac, Pampanga and Bulacan. A large percentage (85%) are Filipinos (mountaineers, students, professional and office workers). Some 15% of these visitors are foreigners mostly Europeans. Most of the visitors stay in Angeles City for hotel accommodation before and after their trek.

Market Opportunities

A market audit of the community’s tourism appeal indicates a strong potential to create and sustain a niche market particularly the growing ecotourist market segment (nature trippers, adventure travelers, mountaineers, etc.). Mt. Pinatubo and its hallowed and tranquil crater has a strong appeal to those interested to learn about the impacts of a geologic upheaval on the lives of people as well as its effect on the natural landscapes and ecosystem. However, to successfully deliver a quality ecotourism experience for this market, further interpretation and integration of themes are needed to make Sta. Juliana’s past experiences and existing attractions more meaningful and worth more than a day trip for visitors. Opportunities for geologic studies (unique Grand Canyon-like lahar formations, sand castles, river crossings, waterfalls etc.), cultural experience (Aeta culture, lifestyle and traditions) as well as a primitive arts and crafts browsing all add to the range of things to do in Sta. Juliana and are consistent with the concept of ecotourism adventure travel.


The Department of Tourism has invested a great deal in consumer research in order to understand emerging tourism trends and visitor preferences. This research work has provided a sound basis on which to plan the future direction of tourism growth, and the characteristics that the local community could trade on. The features that interest visitors are largely intangible and relate to one’s lifestyle strengths such as a hospitable people, heritage, cultural, ecotourism, learning experiences and accessible nature encounters.

Therefore, the markets that show the greatest potential for Sta. Juliana are those that:

- are nature lovers;

- are adventure seekers;

- like new discoveries

- are willing to spend on local resources;

- demand authenticity; and

- are environmentally conscious.

These characteristics provide clues to the type of tourism experiences that the local host community should conserve and enhance and the type of development it should encourage. It should emphasize experiences and development that put people in touch with their natural and cultural environment.

Sta. Juliana’s “lifestyle” has been identified as its greatest strength, especially:

- relaxed pace of life;

- availability of local industry (bamboo and rattan, indigenous arts and crafts)

- personal friendly hospitality;

- presence of culture-bound community of Aetas;

- proximity to wild land adventure (Pinatubo crater, waterfalls, laharlandia, flora and fauna);

- accessibility of learning experiences;

- cultural and festive experiences (Aeta rituals, local fiesta)

- excellence in agriculture

The following principles represent the fundamentals of Sta. Juliana’s tourism strategy:

- specialize – don’t be all things to all people.

- be different – don’t try to be like others.

- build on strengths – express and celebrate what makes the people of Sta. Juliana what they are (past, present and future).

- sustainability – conserve primary community values, be environmentally aware, and obtain local community commitment and acceptance.

The ecotourism strategy here is not to develop at all cost but that of recognizing the community’s tourism assets and natural resources, and taking concrete action to protect them and market them sensitively to provide meaningful experiences for the visitor.

Tourism in Sta. Juliana is therefore actively promoting ecotourism travel and cultural experience, a form of travel where the visitor is actively engaged in discovering nature’s bounties while at the same time “decoding” the natural and cultural environment. In the cultural context, visitor experience includes pattern of settlement (Aeta culture), its indigenous people, the wildlife, fiestas, food, special events, agriculture and so on.

Sta. Juliana’s tourism strategy is aimed at enhancing the local community’s primary values and lifestyles, being environmentally and culturally aware, community-based and accepted, and developed in a way that produces net benefit to the local community.

Working Group

The preparation of this report was guided by the results of informal consultations and regular meetings made with representatives of the local community, the local government units, government agencies and the local travel trade community. The prime purpose of the report is to determine whether the government’s policy thrust in the area of ecotourism development are compatible with that of the identified aspirations of the local community. Is there a potential to establish a niche in which Sta. Juliana can compete in the marketplace? If so, what should the strategy be?

The report assessed the characteristics of Sta. Juliana’s key resources, its people, places and local objectives, and compared them with tourism market trends.

Some areas with potential for development emerged:

1. Strengthen he interpretation of Aeta’s heritage to deliver more understanding and hence experience for visitors (performing art, fine art and heritage);

2. Develop local homestay program for overnight visitor including outdoor camping facilities;

3. Continue with environmental conservation and more specific planning controls (Pinatubo crater, trails, camp sites and habitats);

4. Develop a marketing alternative activities other than trekking (waterfalls experience, cave exploration, Aeta community immersion and wilderness experience);

5. Market Sta. Juliana as a destination in its own right and in conjunction with other proximate destinations (hot springs, prayer mountain, museums, inland resorts, other eco sites);

6. Education for local tourism players on the value of tourism and the importance of information and service; and

7. Develop the entrepreneurial strengths of the host community to produce local indigenous arts and crafts – for sale to visitors.


Regular meetings and consultations with key members of the local host community were made to introduce them to the concepts and notions of ecotourism, cultural tourism and invited feedbacks. A survey was conducted on visitors to the area to gauge their level of satisfaction after their trek and obtain their suggestions on how to enhance tourism in the community. Results of these consultations and visitor surveys revealed community and visitor values that are most likely to be used as the basis for formulating a tourism strategy.

The highest ranked values were the community’s quietness or peaceful environment and its feeling of a “country life”. Its friendly community, in particular the service provided by receptionists at the visitor center, mountain guides, porters, local barangay officials was a common response. The need to upgrade visitor facilities like toilet and shower rooms was cited. Some visitors indicated that the length of trekking was too long and difficult. Visitors also expressed the need to produce quality brochures and flyers at the visitor center. Most respondents considered the scenery and the natural landscape as excellent.

Local residents indicated the need for the proponent to consider the physical development of not only the barangay hall but also the other areas in the community such as the chapel, local health center, street lighting, among others. More local respondents expressed their willingness to be part of the regular clean-up of the trail to the crater. They are also looking into the prospect of turning into entrepreneurs to earn a living from visitor influx. One sari-sari storeowner soon demolished her old structure and constructed a mini-grocery to accommodate a larger supply of items.


In general, there is a wide public acceptance of the ecotourism project. Local residents look at tourism as an alternative source of income for them. They also regarded the conservation of the natural environment as vital to the sustainability of the project.


It is possible to shape and form a tourism product and establish a chosen positioning within the tourism market. The critical question is how should the Sta. Juliana experience be perceived in the travel market relative to other destinations.

Sta. Juliana’s chief claim to recognition is first and foremost that of being proximate and most accessible to the crater Mt. Pinatubo (other similarly situated barangays in Zambales and Pampanga are close enough but visitors could not access the crater from their trail). Visitors to the crater could actually see and feel the serenity and majestic aura of the 2.5-km crater lake (some even dared to swim on the lake!). This is what makes Sta. Juliana unique as compared to other destinations. It is the only convenient access point to the crater. Added to this the host community has a variety of diverse flavors to attract tourists such as the existence of cascading waterfalls, camp sites for corporate outdoor living exercises, venue for off-road adventure four-wheeled driving, opportunities for an Aeta community immersion, motorbike ride, aerial tour, nature tripping, scientific exploration, eco-challenge, educational trips and conservation tour including arts and crafts browsing.

To develop an appropriate positioning statement and strategy, a realistic assessment of the experiences and benefits a destination can credibly offer is necessary. From this assessment an easily understood and appealing selling point or image which captures the essence of what the place offers and differentiates it from competitors needs to be evolved. This information is then used to guide marketing and development.

Sta. Juliana can credibly offer:

- a significant and varied ecotourism adventure experience;

- a quiet backcountry retreat;

- a quick escape from the city to experience hard and soft impact adventure travel; and

- an opportunity for a cross-cultural exchange with native Aetas.

A statement that clearly condenses and “sells” these benefits in an appealing way could evolve from thoughts that embrace the concepts of:

- Mt. Pinatubo: Home to Apu Malyari;

- Sta. Juliana: Your Gateway to Mt. Pinatubo;

- Experience Indigenous Culture at its Best; and

- Mt. Pinatubo: Phoenix Rising from the Ashes

From these concepts a positioning statement may be drawn to guide product development and marketing efforts. The above may not suffice to create a statement but the key elements are amply supplied here.

What follows is a strategy for community development of tourism in Sta. Juliana.


To develop the ecotourism potential of Sta. Juliana it is crucial that a clear strategy that gives direction and orders of priority for activities and development, is evolved. The following strategy seeks to indicate what needs to be done and in what order to progress tourism in Sta. Juliana.

Developing Ecotourism

There are potentially four (4) key elements to Sta. Juliana’s tourism product:

1. Its proximity and reputation as the gateway to the crater of Mt. Pinatubo;

2. The community’s undaunted spirit against nature’s destructive forces;

3. Presence of Pinatubo-affected culture-bound communities (Aetas);

4. Indigenous arts and crafts;

Secondary to these, and which have the potential to underpin the main elements, are the community’s evolving cultural activities including an annual fiesta, beauty pageant, sports activities and local industry (pumice stones, charcoal, root crops).

Several alternative development scenarios are options for development to achieve economic growth in tourism and related industries:

Option 1

Maintain the state of development in the community as well as the trail system to the crater of the volcano. Keep development of sites – trail system, road networks, visitor facilities and staffing requirements – to a minimum. Set standards for people going up to the crater based on carrying capacity considerations. Develop and maintain a diverse itinerary of places to visit to diffuse visitor concentration in one specific area such as the crater. Look at existing tourist attraction in nearby communities.

This option would have a low impact on the economy of the community, low level of interpretation, visitation, promotion and marketing.

Option 2

Enhance the community’s tourism product such as upgrading of trail system, building better access road network to the crater, cable cars, construction of resort facilities, promote the community for a higher level of use. Enhance special events as an inducement for people to stay longer.

Favored Approach

The first option seems to be the more practical and appropriate under the existing circumstances. It is viable and achievable and would tend to concentrate scarce financial resources and investment on key sites and facilities to provide tourism with a “kick start” and mobilize the local tourism economy. Low impact development ensures better control over visitor movements and activities thus ensuring the protection of the environment.

The community’s tourism industry should in the meanwhile depend heavily on existing resources and products: Pinatubo crater, trail system, waterfalls, cultural community, tourist facilities, arts and crafts. Building of new infrastructures if necessary will be kept to the minimum (native rest areas, viewing decks, etc.).

The favored recommendation is to keep development at low level while at the same time maintaining at par existing tourism products and facilities.

Guiding Themes and Ideas

In order to achieve the concept behind the adage that “There is no education better than the lessons of travel” it is essential to bring life to the community’s appeal as an “undaunted victim of Pinatubo’s fury”, “The Gateway to Mt. Pinatubo”, the “Home to Apu Malyari” and “Like a Phoenix Rising from the Ashes” as well as its people’s story of the 1991 volcanic eruption. The idea is to link the community’s life and achievement including its gallant stand against the forces of nature’s fury, as guiding themes, to the key elements of the tourism product.

This strategy is based on the recommendation to relive the undying story of the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo and link this to the present and future projects and development in the community. The barangay hall that now serves as the visitor assistance center will be the hub of tourism activity in the community.

In addition to the above recommendation, it is recommended that a list of people and families - especially among the Aetas - that survived the tragic upheaval wrought by the eruption be made to be linked logically to the community’s key tourism elements:

- the people that lived on the mountain called Pinatubo could tell a story on the now beautiful and serene crater lake;

- the role played by the government and civic organizations to evacuate hundreds of indigenous people from the hills at the height of Pinatubo’s eruption;

- the long period of struggle of the people of Sta. Juliana to survive the deadly inflow of lahar into their backyard;

- the role played by the elder Aetas during the heydays of the Cope Thunder military live fire exercises along Crow Valley range near Sta. Juliana (scavenging spent shells and ammunitions and sold to local traders)

- influence of local traders from the Capas town on the lives of the Aetas who constantly barter sacks of rice for a quick harvest of banana fruits;

- the uneasy peace in the community whenever the RP-US Balikatan live fire exercises are going on could also be linked to the story line including the impact of such exercise on their livelihood;

The relationship between the “prominent” names in the community and the key tourist elements could represent the concept of guiding themes that should influence product development.

The community’s proximity and reputation as the gateway to the crater of Mt. Pinatubo

Visitor interpretation on the main tourism product could be enhanced by the undying story of the Aetas that once lived close to the mountain prior to its eruption. The community will do well to document the triumphs and defeats of the affected people and make this a regular service for guided tours to the crater. Visitors will then gain an appreciation of the story and development of Mt. Pinatubo and its inhabitants that will make visitor travel more meaningful and educational. An interpretation panel containing a visual and written history of the place would do well to enhance the tourism appeal of the product.

Guided interpretation of Mt. Pinatubo can be arranged thru the visitor assistance center. The services of mountain guides are now offered for visitors to the crater lake (porters are also available on request). Visitor’s experience of the crater would be enhanced significantly by having a better and personalized access to information on the volcano itself. Guided tour will doubtless be improved by the proposed visual exhibition at the visitor center. Memorabilia and artifacts related to the eruption would significantly improve the reputation of the volcano as one of Sta. Juliana’s key tourist products. It is also suggested that a video documentary of the 1991 eruption be shown to visitors, especially foreign tourists, to enhance the tourism image of the community.

The community should ensure that the crater lake on top of the volcano will be protected from visitors’ unobtrusive intervention. The carrying capacity of the crater should be identified and disseminated to visitors for their guidance. Swimming on the lake and camping out on the crater should be strictly prohibited.

The discovery of cascading waterfalls system (two of them) close to the O’ Donnell river on the way to the crater is one aspect of tourism marketing that is worth looking into. It is recommended that these waterfalls be developed using locally available native materials – at the least cost possible – such as the construction of cottages and picnic huts to be offered to visitors for the purpose of diversifying visitor experience. Visitors to the area will be provided information on the whereabouts of these waterfalls upon their arrival at the visitor center. These added features of the Pinatubo trek will provide added income for local residents.

The community’s undaunted spirit against the destructive forces of nature

The experience of local residents at the height of the eruption and the years following its lahar destruction is enough information to write a book. These interrelated bits and pieces of information could make a difference in diversifying visitor experience. The information may be made available at the visitor center or may form part of the visitor interpretation service of mountain guides.

Presence of Pinatubo-affected and culture-bound communities (Aetas tribes)

Some 2,400 indigenous people living in scattered settlements along the mountain ranges in varying distances to the crater are the best tourism products that the community may offer to foreign visitors to the area. Their continuing saga to unravel the mystery behind the eruption coupled with their unwavering feat to overcome their own struggle against the forces of nature is one big piece of information that will attract tourists. A foreign language interpreter will do well to serve the needs of tourists that find interest in the history and lifestyles of these tribes.

A visit to an Aeta settlement will do well to enhance visitor appreciation of the indigenous people’s heritage including a look-see of their simple abode (a single room affair). A whole day of community immersion is most valuable and educational.

A scheduled cultural show among the Aetas will greatly help in enhancing the cultural experience of visitors. The tourism regional office should initiate a move to organize them to come up with a staged performance of their native dance and songs, rituals and centuries-old practices such as building fire from native bamboo and their indigenous practice of marriage and healing. A grand annual Aeta festival preferably called Dag-aw Festival during the month of November will help relive their culture and heritage.

Indigenous arts and crafts

Though a handful of Aetas are now offering their indigenous arts and crafts (bow and arrow, bamboo crafts and basket weaving) there is yet a need to develop this product to further enhance visitor experience. The current thrusts of the Department of Tourism to develop the entrepreneurial spirit of the local host community in rural areas (Entrepreneural Development for Rural Tourism) is most welcome in the community as it will trigger an avalanche of economic benefits for them. Government agencies such as the DOST, TESDA, DTI, NCIP may help enhance the quality of the community’s arts and crafts. A showroom featuring these products is recommended at the visitor center. Marketing system for these products is also essential.

Local industry

The effort of the local resident to depend on their local resources such as pumice rocks, charcoal and root crops for economic livelihood is a story in itself. The economic system existing is such that local Aetas are perpetually indebted to unscrupulous traders from the lowlands by buying up their local produce with a constant supply of rice (old barter trade). Government agencies like the Cooperative Development Authority and the DTI will do well to help form a cooperative among Aetas and non-Aetas as well to improve their transactional skills in business.

Cultural activities (fine arts and performing arts)

There is an existing collection of artifacts and memorabilia of Aeta lifestyles and their traditions (tribal dress, bow and arrow, nose flute, gong, bamboo kitchen paraphernalia etc) which could become part of a museum of arts and crafts. A well-appointed museum for this purpose will help enhance the tourism image of the community.


Training programs for local homeowners on the methods and techniques of Homestay accommodation (bed and breakfast) would do well to enhance tourism services in the community. Camping sites may be identified to accommodate eco-trekkers and campers or nature lovers. It is recommended that local residents make an effort to improve the quality of their homestay service including facilities like toilets and bedroom to attract visitors to stay. Local investors may also consider constructing accommodation structures (made of locally available native materials).

Guideship Service

Since the objective of the ecotourism project is to derive economic benefits from the activity, it will do well to have a pool of mountain guides and porters to provide such service to visitors. An association of guides and porters should be organized to help them build better quality of service. A common fund will help them during times of emergency.

Trail system

The O’ Donnel river serves as the trail system that links the community to the crater which has a distance of 30 kilometers in between. The trail to the crater is covered by lahar, river streams and pumice rocks of varying sizes that makes trekking an experience in heart-stopping adventure. Traveling on foot to the crater from Sta. Juliana takes about 8-10 hours. Traveling on ordinary jeep (Sarao or XLT) cuts trekking time to about 4-5 hours. But with a 4 x 4 jeep (off-road all-weather vehicles) trekking time is cut to only two (2) hours up the crater. Visitors take the same route on their way back.

Since the trail system is a river channel that keeps changing every time it pours, there is a remote possibility of eroding the soil along the path. Driving along the river channel creates low level of impact to the natural landscape. It is nevertheless recommended that motorized vehicles be disallowed from advancing close to the crater. A designated parking area (in a place called Dapili) will do well to prevent vehicles from going farther. This will give visitors a one-time chance to walk their feet up to the crater and allow them to observe the natural formations and river streams and volcanic debris of varying shapes.

Along the trail system are identified campsites where overnight guests may spend their night (camp only on high grounds away from river channels). Camping on the crater should be strictly prohibited as it tends to erode its fringes when too many people are left alone to congregate. The prohibition will also protect the integrity of the main tourism product of Sta. Juliana – the crater lake itself.


The range of tourism opportunities and proposals have been assessed as worthy of further investigations because they have strong regard to the following principles:

1. Provide long term direction based upon the basic principles of ecotourism (visitor education, host community development and environmental protection);

2. Have a relationship to Sta. Juliana’s key position and products, i.e. the crater, indigenous communities, wilderness adventure, natural wonders, arts and crafts, among other things; and

3. Can be developed immediately (within one (1) year).

A programme outlining priorities and funding for product development over the nex twelve (12) months is outlined in the attached schedule. The schedule draws together all the initiatives discussed in the strategy. Funding requirements for most of the proposed developments should be taken – in part – from the regular tourist revenues of the barangay. Voluntary contributions from the private sector are acceptable. The government may come in to help in the infrastructure development (low impact) if need be. A major portion of the budget would come from the World Bank once the project is approved.


Facilitation of the tourism strategy is of critical importance and will be the key to its success. A large task lies ahead. Coordination of the many initiatives outlined in this report will require purposeful leadership and a wide base of community support.

Volunteers play a major role in the community’s tourism economy. Inspiring the local commercial sector to increase its participation in the tourism industry is a major task.

The strategy looks to expanding the ecotourism experience of Sta. Juliana before new areas of economic development. To be realistically pursued these initiatives will require exceptional commitment from the barangay council, the organization of indigenous people, young leaders association (SK), the Mothers’ Club and the local businessmen, displaying organizational, communication, negotiation and business skills.

While the tasks and challenges ahead may appear daunting, the rewards are potentially significant.

There has been no accurate studies conducted on visitor expenditures on a barangay level. This is the first time that the tourism regional office (Central Luzon) is undertaking a tourism project at the barangay level. But some non-government organizations like Miriam Peace have done a similar project in San Miguel, Bulacan for the Biak-na-bato National Park which by now benefits local residents (i.e. mountain guides, souvenir makers, sari-sari store owners etc.). Still no estimates have been drawn from this experience.

Based on the figures reported by the Sta. Juliana council some P10,000 in visitor receipts are received on a weekly basis. The total collection is broken down into: P3,000 in conservation fees (P20 per visitor), P500 for postcards (P20 each), P500 for certificates of conquest (P50 each) and P1,000 in voluntary donations for use of toilet and shower facilities and P5,000 in guideship and porterage fees (P500 per guide for a group of 5 visitors/P1,000 for an overnight trek). The community receives an average of 100 visitors on a weekly basis. An average of 20 guides and porters are hired every week. This figures were taken in audit when tourism to the community perked up due to intense marketing and promotional activities launched by the tourism regional office starting early last year.

The programme mapped out for Sta. Juliana takes a medium term view and anticipates it will take at least 5 years before Sta. Juliana’s tourism industry starts to provide any significant financial returns to the local barangay and to the rest of the population.

It is worth mentioning here that a wide range of skills and leadership will be needed to implement the strategy. Without paid implementation staff, progression of the strategy will be slower but not impossible, provided clear directions are set and community commitment is achieved. Funding a paid part-time or full-time position should be considered, provided funding will be derived from its tourism revenues.


The barangay council can influence future tourism development in the community. The Development Plan is the chief controlling instrument that influences development and the style of development. The Plan should contain the following tourism provisions:

Objective: To achieve sustainable growth in tourist activity of net benefit to Sta. Juliana.

Principles of Development Control:

- Tourism development should be demonstrated to be economically viable, provide net benefits to the community and complement and enhance the character of the community as well as the integrity of the natural environment.

- Encourage regular maintenance of existing tourist facilities, trail system, wildlands, cultural activities and living settlements of Aetas.

- Discourage large-scale developments which would destroy the natural character of the community and the surrounding environment.

- Prepare a tourism facility structure plan for inclusion in the overall plan that directs different types of tourist development to specific areas such as:

- Museum of indigenous arts and crafts

- Improvement of existing Aeta settlements for visitation

- Re-use of existing buildings for accommodation or farmhouse accommodation

- Butterfly sanctuary for added income

- Clean and Green project for the community

- Viewing decks and rest areas

- Upgrading of designated camping sites

- Introduce waste management system on trail system

Over and above all these lies the task of organizing the local community for the continuance of the project. Thus the partner agency started to organize the Sta. Juliana Tourism Council, Inc. in 2001 to pave the way for the transfer of duties and responsibilities from the project proponent to the local host population. The same organization was duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2001. The council is composed of potential leaders who volunteered their services for the sake of evolving a productive economic activity. It’s set of officers continuously operate the visitor assistance center to ensure visitor satisfaction during their sojourn to the locality.

Some 70 local hands volunteered to serve as mountain guides. The agency conducted training for these hardy boys. Soon they were up and about earning a living as professional guides with DOT accreditation. Informal surveys indicate that these guides receive as much as P3,000 a month from their newfound job. Since then these boys never ceased to wear their badge of excellence.

Visitor receipts were collected and kept in a bank account. Regular meetings would draw from council members their proposals on how the funds would be utilized for community development. Among the projects so far undertaken include: street-lighting, construction of deep well in strategic places, new set of uniforms for guides, electrification of school building, purchase of computer for the visitor center, repainting of school rooms, maintenance of 15 computers (use of elementary pupils), water system for school children, purchase of two-way radio communication and provision for cell phones for a number of residents.

Recently, a congressman donated some P1 Million for the construction of a guesthouse to accommodate the growing number of visitors to the community. Now the facility is an income generator.

A local air force contingent under the auspices of the Air Force City in Clark provides security for visitors to Mt. Pinatubo. Since the program started no untoward incident has so far occurred under their watch.


The Kabuhayan sa Turismo project may be replicated anywhere in the country for as long as the primary element is present: the existence of a major tourist attraction. There are thousands of communities in the country that happen to host one or two tourism-related events or tourist spots. A development strategy is all that is needed to accomplish the principles for which ecotourism as a program was founded – that of building better quality of lives thru travel and tourism. The office prepared the framework for the process of replicating the program in other areas. A practical guide to a self-sustainable ecotourism project was completed and distributed to all local tourism councils in at least 100 local government units throughout the region as a start-up activity. The region is now in the process of instituting the same program for the community of Aetas in Sitio Target in Brgy. Sapangbato in Angeles City where the existence of exciting waterfalls and Grand Canyons continuously attract visitors to the locality. A similar project is also in the offing for the local population of Brgy. Sapang Uwak in Porac, Pampanga where a mountain trail to the Pinatubo crater is due to be completed by the local government unit early next year. The same strategy may be prepared and executed upon consultation and consent from the local host community.


The level of social and economic benefits that the host population received over the years is an indication of how an ecotourism project is apt to work wonders for so long as both the government and the private sector participate in a mutually acceptable working arrangement. The Kabuhayan sa Turismo project is an exemple of this partnership. It is this partnership that maintains the level of sustainability needed to keep the project ongoing. For the first time, the proponents needed not to seek financial or logistical resources from the government. If ever there was any, the level of support was kept to a minimum. A large percentage of funds generated from the ecotourism project were gained from tourists themselves and from voluntary contributions from the tourism stakeholders and other interest groups. The organization of a local tourism council including a close-knit collaboration with the local political institution in the community provided the impetus for the long-term sustainability of this pilot project. Altogether, it was the level of support and monitoring effort of the regional tourism office which sealed the effectiveness of the program. The presence of the government on a regular basis (in fact every Friday) in the community was the most important factor for the project’s success.


The expected beneficiaries of the project would be the more than 3,000 local population of Brgy. Sta. Juliana – 80% of whom belong to the indigenous community. Funds generated from the activity would be utilized to finance local projects that would enhance the level of appeal of the local community as a major travel destination. The expected outcome of the project would come in the form of figures in visitor arrivals and the consequent earnings from tourism activities. With funding support from potential funders, the project stands to experience an increase in the number of visitors to the community as this would then attract more people to come to the crater. As the number of visitors increase, the amount of social and economic benefits that the host population would enjoy would likewise increase. The overall impact of ecotourism on the community would be felt more dramatically.


The project will be jointly managed by the Sta. Juliana Tourism Council, Inc. and the Department of Tourism – Region III Office. The local tourism council is headed by Mr. Ramon Dumulot who holds a track record in local community development projects having been assigned in a myriad of specific tasks such as civil defense assistance unit, youth organization and involvement in the barangay council as a political unit. From the government side, the team is led by Mr. Carmelito Supan who has been involved in various community projects over the last seven (7) years. He holds a track record as a planning officer of the tourism department for the last fifteen (15) years. Recently he was sent to Malaysia to train and observe the country’s ecotourism projects for a technology transfer arrangement. The overall-in-charge is the Regional Director of the tourism regional office, Ronaldo P. Tiotuico, who trained in Israel in 1999 (one month) in Income-generating Activities in Rural Areas. The key contact between the project team and DIM would be the tourism regional office thru Director Ronaldo P. Tiotuico – in the absence of a permanent means of communication in Brgy. Sta. Juliana.


The principal role of the tourism regional office as primary partner organization is to provide technical assistance and motivational support to the project proponent (local tourism council) in undertaking the projects and activities outline above. The activities of the tourism regional office would be limited to monitoring, audit of financial transactions and providing technical assistance to the project team on a regular basis. This arrangement would enable both partners to keep the project on a sustainable basis in keeping with the thrust of the potential funders. The tourism organization and the local tourism council have always been working hand in hand over the last five years. Their partnership enabled the Kabuhayan sa Turismo project ongoing and attuned to the mandate thru which the marriage was blessed.

As proof of this wholesome partnership, the same project was honored with two (2) international and one (1) national award, namely: Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) for best adventure-related project (GOLD Award) in 2001, Malaysia; ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA) Award for best ecotourism project in 2002, Indonesia; and Kalakbay award for best ecotourism product in 2002, Malacanang Palace in Manila with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as guest of honor.

The project proponent upon registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission has acquired funding support from a number of agencies, namely: the Cooperative Development Authority in the amount of P10,000 for entrepreneurial development, Department of Tourism in the amount of P25 Million for road construction (implemented thru the Department of Public Works and Highways) and Holy Angel University for donation of fifteen (15) computers for the public elementary school.


This strategy underwent community consultations and regular meetings with local tourism players. Its basic thrust is an “ecotourism” approach to sensitively encourage more tourism activities in Sta. Juliana – that of providing educational and recreational value for the tourist, enhancing the quality of life in the local host community and the inevitability of protecting the natural and human environment. In the end the reasons for encouraging tourism are both economic and social.


A Sustainable Community-based Ecotourism Development Project for
Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac, Philippines

Prepared by:

Sta. Juliana Tourism Council, Inc.
Department of Tourism – Region III

Submitted to:

1st Philippine Development Innovation Marketplace Competition
Panibagong Paraan
December 12, 2004


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