When man intrudes into nature’s territory, the result is usually the destruction of the latter. But when Punta Riviera was established in between Bolinao, Pangasinan’s Malino River and the West Philippine Sea, the owners made it a point not only to preserve the venue’s natural beauty, but to also
integrate the resort into the development of the local community.
Dr. Ian McFeat-Smith, the resort’s head host, calls this Punta’s permaculture model. Its elements include the beach and riverside resort proper, environmental and ecological culture, tourism education, organic farming, green asset management, and community integration.
Stepping into the resort proper, you’d think that the only facilities available would be the dining hall, two to 20 person suites, two pools, cabanas, hot tubs, billiard tables, and drinking lounge, but no. The resort’s land extends along the mouth and across Malino River into the adjacent sand bar.
“We’re looking after the environment and its ecology,” explained Smith on the resort’s unique structure. “We keep this side of the river for tourists and that bridge (over the river) leads into nature’s portion. This river comes down from the hills, and instead of running into the sea, it takes a left hand bend and runs parallel to the coast for two kilometers. It’s given us this beautiful location.”
But what’s a stunning location without anyone to share it with? As part of its social responsibility, Punta also runs a TESDA-approved tourism school that teaches young kids the basics of hotel and restaurant management. “That’s been successfully going on for some time now, and in 2010, TESDA awarded us the Kabalikat Award for Region 1 and nominated us for the national award.”
Moving on, Punta boasts of a near-total organic farm anchored on a fertilizer mix of seaweed and effective microorganisms to cultivate good bacterial growth in the soil.
They also own a free range farm where they source the ingredients for their restaurant.
To further reduce its carbon footprint, the resort features a very extensive energy, water, and waste management system. Each suite is equipped with low energy and solar bulbs to complement the ample natural lighting, showers fed by solar water heaters, and dual toilet flushing. Punta also uses well water for gardening and maintenance of livestock, felled trees are carved to make furniture, and organic waste from the rooms and kitchen are used as feed in their free range farm.
“Our goal is to look after the Earth and the people. We look after our guests, that’s a given. But we also look after our staff by giving them permanent employment with a decent compensation package. We also look after villagers by sharing our surplus through education and annual festivities,” concluded Smith.
Because he saw the benefits of a holistic permaculture model, Smith is hopeful that it will become the future of Philippine tourism. With the country’s sprawling land area combined with the Filipino’s natural adaptability, coexistence between people and nature is a reality that’s just waiting to be tapped.
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE April 2016 Issue
Words by Chris Noel Hidalgo