Facilitators of the Ecotourism Product Development workshop are composed of experts on community-based ecotourism. They have years of experience in helping communities around the country develop sustainable ecotourism destinations.
Chen is a tourism planning consultant who authored several planning tools that had been designed to help clients and community partners come up with tourism plans that are pragmatic and implementable. For eight years Chen facilitated the Community-based Sustainable Tourism project in Palaui Island Protected Landscape and Seascape, a protected area in Cagayan declared by CNN in 2013 as 10th among the top 100 beaches in the world.
Chen advocates responsible travel, and supports community-based initiatives. She believes that inclusive growth can truly occur when marginalized sectors of a tourism destination is taken on board as active participants in the growth of a local tourism industry. Chen is an expert on ecotourism enterprise development. From 2011 to 2014 she led a team that provided technical assistance to 22 ecotourism sites in six provinces (Cagayan, Zambales, Masbate, Cebu, Siquijor and Davao Oriental). The project was funded by the Asian Development Bank and Global Environment Facility, and co-managed by DENR and BFAR.
Chen conceptualized Ecotourism Philippines, a brand carried by several rural communities in outstanding natural locations in different parts of the Philippines.
Chen is currently working on private sector initiatives in Negros Oriental, and LGU-led projects in Occidental Mindoro, Batangas and Negros Occidental.
Reader’s Digest Asia and Australia presented Chen the Hero for Today title for her deep involvement in environmental conservation work. She is also the recipient of the Environmental Enhancement Award given by the International Underwater Foundation.
Louie F. Mencias
Louie spent a big portion of his life as a professional diver, taking people underwater to discover a different world. His passion for the marine environment led him to get involved in marine conservation work.
Linking tourism with environment, he developed the Buhay program (Buhay Dagat, Buhay Ilog, Buhay Gubat and Buhay Ibon) which aims to capacitate marginalized members of rural communities to engage in various ecotourism-related micro enterprises. He authored the modules for the community guide trainings for trek guides, reef rangers, birding guides and paddling guides. His most recent creation is the Sagip Buhay training module that capacitates community members in dealing with medical emergencies that are tourism-related and those brought by natural catastrophes.
Louie has been traveling all over the country with his team of trainers to empower fisher folks, farmers, housewives and out-of-school youth to become nature guides and great story-tellers of their own communities.
Louie is a registered trainer of the Department of Tourism and a former commissioner of the Philippine Commission on Sports SCUBA Diving. He is an awardee of Reader’s Digest as a Hero for Today, and a recipient of the International Underwater Foundation’s Environmental Enhancement Award. Louie also is a senior lecturer at the University of the Philippines and a part time faculty in Ateneo de Manila University. He is often invited as a resource speaker in different parts of the country on community based rural tourism and environmental conservation.