SM Cares helps rebuild crumbling Batad rice terraces Thursday, September 6, 2012
Business Mirror By Mauricio Victa / Correspondent
SM CARES, through its Yes Tourism committee, recently joined the Cordillera Heritage Weekend Warrior Caravan Run to restore the Banaue rice terraces, which was recently removed from the World Heritage “sites in danger” list.
This is a project of SM Cares through the SM Program on “Tourism and Volunteerism” in cooperation with the “Photography with a Difference.”
The “VolunTourism: Saving a Living Heritage–Batad Rice Terraces” aims to revive the bayanihan spirit by restoring the stone-walled terraces, which were left parched and damaged due to climate change and other forces of nature.
The Batad Rice Terraces were declared by Unesco a World Heritage Site in 1995.
As a “VolunTourist,” SM Cares seeks to create awareness on the plight of a heritage site destroyed by natural disasters and to help, rebuild, cultivate and promote the culture and natural diversity of Batad. In essence, it is a corporate social responsibility (CSR) with added components of volunteerism and tourism in exposing “VolunTourists” to the national heritage of the Philippines.
The caravan was initiated by the Philippine Tour Operators Association and ace photographer John Chua, together with Canon Philippines and other corporate entity volunteers dubbed as “weekend warriors.”
Along with the other environment conservationists, the SM team, led by SM Cares Yes Tourism Committee Assistant Program Director Nona Reyes, SM City Fairview Manager Dennis Martel, SM Baguio Manager Marc Janssen Pe and SM Baguio Public Relations Manager Karren Padilla, was in Batad, Banaue, Ifugao, from July 18 to 21 to help rebuild parts of the Batad Rice Terraces and extend school and community help to the residents.
Farming tools and other equipment sponsored by Ace Hardware were turned over by the team to the local government of Ifugao for the use of farmers in their restoration efforts. This is the second time that SM, through its CSR program, joined the movement, with Chua being a longtime corporate partner starting with the company’s project for people with disabilities headed by Bien C. Mateo, VP for North Operations, among other SM CSR programs.
On February 3 SM joined Canon Philippines, environment groups, the Ifugao government and residents in the launching of “Banchang” (bayahihan) in Batad.
Reyes said the partnership with Chua and other individuals and groups for the preservation of heritage sites like the Banaue rice terraces gave them the opportunity to enhance their programs that support tourism.
“We believe heritage sites can help spur tourism,” Reyes said.
SM Cares again collaborated with Philtoa, which featured Unesco World Heritage Sites, including Ifugao, during the 23rd Philippine Travel Mart from August 10 to 12, the largest annual tourism expo in the country, at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, that aimed to boost the DOT campaign for sustainable tourism.
In Photo: SM Cares volunteers smile with Batad, Ifugao barangay officials and school teachers who received donations from SM Malls Baguio Manager Jassen Pe (second from left) and Public Relations Manager Karen Nobres (left). SM Cares helped removed from the National Heritage list of sites in danger. (Mauricio Victa)