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Scripps Senior Theses

Paraisong nawala: exploring sustainable ecotourism in the philippines.

Samantha Barrios Yu , Scripps College Follow

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Open Access Senior Thesis

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Bachelor of Arts

Environmental Analysis

Char Miller

Marc Los Huertos

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© 2019 Samantha Yu

Ecotourism, environmentally responsible travel to natural areas, is a growing industry that has the ability to bring invaluable tourism revenue to countries with flourishing natural environments. The Philippines has the potential to be an ecotourism hotspot, and if implemented correctly, ecotourism could enable the alleviation of poverty in the Philippines as well as contribute to the conservation of the Philippines’ natural resources. By examining three destinations in the Philippines and their ecotourism viability as well as the challenges that these areas face, this thesis explores how the Philippines can benefit greatly from well implemented sustainable ecotourism strategies. Management of ecotourism in the Philippines is currently fragmented and many stressors inhibit successful implementation, including the high rates of poverty and corruption that the country faces. The Philippines is also extremely vulnerable to the effects of the impending climate crisis, which further exacerbate environmental issues in the country and threaten the developing country’s growth. Looking at other countries in Southeast Asia and how they manage over-abundance of tourists can help develop a framework of how the Philippines can change the way they view and engage with tourism.

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Yu, Samantha Barrios, "Paraisong Nawala: Exploring Sustainable Ecotourism in the Philippines" (2020). Scripps Senior Theses . 1464.

Since February 28, 2020

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Sustainable tourism : concepts and case studies in the philippines : caring for nature, culture and people.

This book focuses on the features and elements of sustainable tourism in natural destinations, invariably referred to as ecotourism. The book’s thesis posits that ecotourism, also known as sustainable tourism, should be consistent with the principles of sustainable development, which integrates the environmental, social, and economic aspects of development. In practice, these principles include conservation of biodiversity, educational opportunities, visitor experience, planning considerations, ethical responsibility, and provision of community benefits. Taken together, these principles provide the fundamental tools which tourism and park managers can use to assess not only the tangible and intangible values of tourist destinations, but also tourist behaviour and experience as well as the nature or features of tourism products to be developed in the future.

thesis about sustainable tourism in the philippines

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Tourism in the Philippines pp 171–176 Cite as

Tourism in the Philippine Society: Conclusions and Looking Forward

  • Richard S. Aquino 5 &
  • Brooke A. Porter 6 , 7  
  • First Online: 07 October 2022

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Part of the Perspectives on Asian Tourism book series (PAT)

This edited book uncovered some of the contemporary tourism issues in the Philippines, explored through the perspectives of communities, hosts, tourists (local and foreign), and Filipino scholars. This concluding chapter revisits the contributions from each chapter organized through thematic analysis. Particularly, key findings from the contributions are discussed as they inform two broad themes, namely, the tourism orientation of hosts and guests’ orientation of the Philippines . Implications for furthering knowledge of tourism within the context of Filipino society are outlined.

  • Filipino culture
  • Tourism management
  • Hospitality studies
  • Critical tourism studies
  • Philippines

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Alejandria-Gonzalez, M. C. P. (2016). Cultural tourism development in the Philippines: An analysis of challenges and orientations. Journal of Quality Assurance in Hospitality & Tourism, 17 (4), 496–515.

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De Guzman, A. B., Labrador, S. E. Z., & Rodil, F. A. (2019b). Understanding Filipino tourists’ future time perspective and emotional experiences during delayed international flights through design triangulation. International Journal of Tourism Sciences, 19 (4), 324–336.

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Gier, L., Christie, P., & Amolo, R. (2017). Community perceptions of scuba dive tourism development in Bien Unido, Bohol Island, Philippines. Journal of Coastal Conservation, 21 (1), 153–166.

Gössling, S., & Schweiggart, N. (2022). Two years of COVID-19 and tourism: What we learned, and what we should have learned. Journal of Sustainable Tourism , 1–17.

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Porter, B. A., Orams, M. B., & Lück, M. (2018). Sustainable entrepreneurship tourism: An alternative development approach for remote coastal communities where awareness of tourism is low. Tourism Planning & Development, 15 (2), 149–165.

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University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Richard S. Aquino

Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand

Brooke A. Porter

Coral Triangle Conservancy, Taguig, Philippines

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Aquino, R.S., Porter, B.A. (2022). Tourism in the Philippine Society: Conclusions and Looking Forward. In: Aquino, R.S., Porter, B.A. (eds) Tourism in the Philippines. Perspectives on Asian Tourism. Springer, Singapore.

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Ecotourism in the Philippines: A Review of Literature

Profile image of Rowena Abat - Parducho

The 7,107 islands of the Philippines make it one of the most frequently visited places by tourists in Asia and the Pacific. This paper attempted to review existing literatures on how ecotourism serves as a strategy for nation building, as well as establish the need for more conscious efforts to make its contributions sustainable.

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Ecotourism is seen as a potential vehicle to provide environmental, socio-economic and cultural beliefs at both local and national levels. This study was conducted to assess the effects of ecotourism industry in Ilijan, Batangas. Specifically, this study was sought to describe the demographic profile of the respondents in terms of age, gender, civil status, highest educational attainment, family income and years of residency in Ilijan; to determine the effects of ecotourism industry in Ilijan, Batangas in terms of environmental, economical and socio-cultural; to determine the importance of tourism development plan and to develop and market Ilijan as a tourist destination; and to propose tourism development plan to further develop the ecotourism industry of Ilijan, Batangas. This study used descriptive research method. Results showed that the respondents in Ilijan, Batangas City believed that the environmental effect of ecotourism industry in their place can help it to enhance the co...

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Ecotourism development is a strategy of the Philippine Government. The existence of untapped natural resources and cultural/heritage assets has impeded the expansion of ecotourism. This situation is exacerbated by the literary deficit where a specific aspect has mainly been overlooked-the maintainability of small/medium-scale enterprises once already put in place. Against this backdrop, the study explores and understands the sustainability of TANAW Park's Ecotourism Enterprise of Rizal Municipality. Using a case study design, the article delineates the circumstances to fathom out the local ecotourism development. Firstly, the leadership is the top-down driven in the initiative, but in maintaining, the bottom-up manner is more significant. Secondly, the financial issue is complicated, so ideal is continuing the government agencies and integrating the commercial businesses. Thirdly, the Holy Week events are a single-month focal point, thus regularly extending the supplementary activities can increase revenue. Fourthly, TANAW Park is strategical if connected to the critical neighbouring towns and nearby resources. Lastly, TANAW Park's strengths lie in the presence of the unusual intermixing of assets, and the weaknesses are the risks of becoming a "white elephant project." In whole, TANAW Park is a noteworthy and tangible contribution to the local government and the people of Rizal. " 1

Jazztin Jairum Manalo

Ecotourism as nature-based tourism can be considered as a form of sustainable tourism development. It comprises of different factors that enables an area of natural beauty be used for as an enterprise in a sustainable manner. The sustainable tourism practice of Puerto Princesa City (PPC) operates in this context. The City government of Puerto Princesa, managing the foremost and major ecotourism destination the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) had benefited on the decentralization of the national parks as its management roadmap in sustainable ecotourism development in conformity with the national legislations towards Philippine development. This paper presents the entirety of ecotourism that are managed and assisted by the local government of Puerto Princesa to the improvement of the local stakeholders’ socio-economic conditions. Its prime ecotourism destination with their six major sites and activitiesfollows a deductive analysis approach for the growth of the tourism industry. Data on annual tourist arrivals in the past 16 years were gathered through correspondence from key informants and institutions and translated into estimated tourism receipts. Resultsshowed that the growth of tourism significantly generated40 billion pesos for the socio-economic sustainability of local residents for their community development.Several other resolutions and ordinances were crafted and implemented mainly to support tourist safety, cleanliness drive, and creating new ecotourism destinations. The concerted effort of the Puerto Princesa on the preservation of natural resources through sustainable ecotourism have demonstrated its mere potential in generating local employment and economic development.

Ramon B A Alampay

The Philippines, through tourism, aspires to become a stronger player in the integrated travel industry of today. Yet, the country realizes that in order to do so, it must conserve, protect and strengthen the cultural, historical and natural resources upon which the Philippines draws its unique competitive advantages. All these in a manner that can be sustained for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations of Filipinos. This book, a collection of research papers funded by the Philippine APEC Study Center Network (PASCN), reflects the scope and complexity of sustainable tourism development. The various papers also mirror the complexity of sustainable tourism development and hint at the multidisciplinary approach that this mode of tourism needs to succeed. Each paper applies a different disciplinary framework to its particular tourism problem: economics, sociology, anthropology, environmental science, management science, human resources development, and others. Each paper also provides a unique academic angle on sustainability and tourism.

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Samar is the third largest island in the Philippines blessed with worldclass, less known ecotourism destination like highly diverse forest/reefs, gigantic caves, waterfalls, beaches, etc. Tourist arrival share attributed mostly to the private sector remains very low because of poor intervention especially from the local government. Private-led initiatives to promote Samar’s world-class sites are relatively successful, bringing in tourists from all over the world. Samar’s ecotourism sites are rated by these tourists higher in terms of panoramic appeal but poor in terms of accessibility; support structure, services and facilities compared to the more known and government-supported destinations in the Philippines. Samar Island towns are one of the poorest in the Philippines. Increasing tourist arrival through improved government intervention will result into a better economic activity which will potentially reduce the poverty level in the three provinces of Samar.

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Sustainable Tourism in the Philippines

thesis about sustainable tourism in the philippines

January 2019

Tourism is a vital economic pillar that contributes to growth and development among economies in the world. Such claim is reinforced by reports from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) showing that in 2017, tourism accounted for about 10.4% (USD 8 trillion) of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 5% (USD 1 trillion) of total investments, 7% (USD 1.5 trillion) of the world’s exports, and 1 in 10 jobs (313 million jobs) in the global economy. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) also reported that in 2017, international tourist arrivals increased by 7%, which is expected to continue in 2018 at a rate of 4% to 5%. Such trend is also seen in the Philippines. According to the Department of Tourism (DOT), there was an 11% increase in foreign tourist arrivals in 2017 (i.e., 6.6 million arrivals in 2017 from 5.97 million in 2016). This, as per the WTTC, contributed 21.1% (USD 66.3 billion) to GDP, 2.4% (USD 1.9 billion) to total investments, 8% (USD 7.5 billion) to total exports, and 19.2% (7.8 million jobs) to total employment in 2017. This has driven economic activities across localities, especially in rural areas, which increased the number of enterprises that sustain activities in tourism destinations.

Such magnitudes warrant the need for initiatives to foster sustainable tourism. Sustainable tourism is defined by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and UNWTO as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.” It is primarily concerned about the management and conservation of tourism resources towards equitable development and for the use of succeeding generations. To do this, concerted efforts among stakeholders are necessary.

Tourism stakeholders have the capacity to strengthen and impede sustainability efforts. In providing tourism experience, especially for an archipelagic destination like the Philippines, there is a need for coordination among tourism product and service providers at every stage of the experience to advance sustainable tourism. Coordination is emphasized because unregulated rapid tourism growth weakens sustainability due to its unintentional consequences. In advancing sustainable tourism, it is critical to involve those who are participating and affected by tourism activities. For instance, when local community members are actively involved, it can prompt a sense of ownership among participants. Hence, they will instinctively conserve their attraction. An effective tourism campaign accompanied by tourist satisfaction invites more tourists creating environmental stress thereby and warranting stringent capacity management policies (i.e., closing destinations for rehabilitation, limiting tourist arrivals, rewarding sustainable practices). Such policies are concerted responsibilities of local government, local communities, and private enterprises to ensure that regulations are enforced and monitored that will create long-term benefits. Sustainable tourism must go beyond generating arrivals that disregard carrying capacity limits. Regulations must emphasize on the execution of policies that underscore the triple bottom line – people, planet, and profit. Eventually, tourism can truly be an avenue to provide meaningful employment.

The DOT is optimistic of developing sustainable tourism in the country by rehabilitating destination, enforcing regulations, and improving the quality of tourism products and services.

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Sustainable Tourism as part of a Better Normal

  • by John Leonard Avenido
  • June 13, 2020 June 13, 2020

Sustainable Tourism as part of a Better Normal

The Pandemic made our lives locked away from the outside world. Yet, with the vaccine out of grasp, the best thing to do is to stay at home. By these, some of us might have been hyped of going outside. Others may have planned their next travel destination when everything is good to go. However, as the world resets everything in our lives—less air pollution, less mobilization, etc. —we should also consider resetting ourselves in the way we fill our desires outside our homes.

Sustainable Tourism as part of a Better Normal

Spending time away from home in pursuit of relaxation, recreation and pleasure is tourism. So, it is basically “people travelling for fun”. In 2017, Travel & Tourism’s direct, indirect and induced impact accounted for $ 8.3 trillion contribution to the world’s GDP growing at 4.6 %, much faster than the economy as a whole (3% growth). The sector also employs 7 million new jobs (1 in 5 of all new jobs across the world) –clearly playing its role as a driver of prosperity. Its significant role in each country is vital for its economic progress. It also upholds veering effect towards our environment.

Tourism extends into various sectors such as Transportation (airline industry, car rental, water transport, coach services, railway as well as spacecraft), Accommodation (hotels, shared accommodation, hostels, camping, bed & breakfast, cruises, farmhouse accommodation or agri-tourism and time-share accommodation), Food and Beverages (restaurant, catering, bars & café, nightclubs), Entertainment (casino, tourist information, shopping, tourist guides & tours) and Connected Industry (financial services, travel agents, tour operator, online travel agent (OTAs), tourism organization and education). For the past years, such sectors are also linked in some negative impacts towards the environment such as soil erosion, increased pollution, discharges into the sea, natural habitat loss, increased pressure on endangered species and heightened vulnerability to forest fire . So, being a tourist plays a vital role on how we spend ourselves towards the environment –some with positive but mostly is negative impacts. Enter sustainable tourism.

Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable Tourism may be a big word but it is always at hand. Sustainable Tourism, according to World Tourism Organization (WTO), is “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities” . Tourism can be in different forms and sustainable tourism is applicable to all forms of tourism in all types of destinations, including mass tourism and various niche tourism segments. Thus, sustainable tourism should:

  • Make optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity.
  • Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contribute to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.
  • Ensure viable, long-term economic operations, providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders that are fairly distributed, including stable employment and income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities, and contributing to poverty alleviation.

Achieving sustainable tourism in a large scale spectacle is too hard to achieve by a single individual. It should require the informed participation of various stakeholders, as well as strong political leadership to ensure wide participation and consensus building. Yet, being a sustainable tourist in a micro perspective is one of a best practice to promote sustainability in tourism industry.

How to become a Sustainable Tourist?

The place you visit is someone’s home. It is important to respect the place and opt leaving like you first arrive. Being a sustainable tourist can be applied to everyone and it is just easy.

Sustainable Tourism as part of a Better Normal

Here are ways that you can try:

“ For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today ” –African Proverb

If previous travel experience you don’t do planning, you might consider it now. By planning ahead, take an in-deep research on your destination and alternative way to travel with less environmental impact. Take into account the things you will be bringing including sustainable and zero-waste products. If possible, it is better to have a checklist on what are necessary to bring and what are not. Planning ahead also includes which hotel is best suited for you. Look for eco-friendly hotels that promote sustainable tourism through sustainable practices.

  • Reduce Carbon Footprint.

Sustainable Tourism as part of a Better Normal

The tourism industry’s carbon footprint around the planet grew by 15% from 3.9 to 4.5 gigatons of equivalent carbon dioxide. It is important to take account of your carbon footprint to know the carbon emission you produce and how much will you offset. A carbon offset is a reduction in emission of carbon or other greenhouse gases made and compensate it elsewhere. Knowing your carbon emission will give you insights on which aspect of your lifestyle you’re going to change. Other means of offsetting your carbon is by planting trees, joining clean-ups, donating to organizations that promote protection and conservation of the environment, etc.. Even spreading environmental awareness and encourage someone to change their lifestyle for the environment is one way of offsetting your carbon.

From now on, you might consider your footprint every time you travel. You can calculate your carbon footprint here:

  • Apply Leave No Trace Principle

Sustainable Tourism as part of a Better Normal

Many of us wanted to get involve in outdoor adventures after this pandemic. Yet, outdoor activities also yield several impacts towards the environment. Good thing there is an ethics that can guide us and enjoy the outdoors responsibly, the Leave No Trace (LNT) Principle. It is most commonly abided by responsible mountaineers and adventurers. LNT is a set of outdoor ethics promoting conservation in the outdoors that consists of seven principles: plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surface, dispose waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife and be considerate of other visitors.

For a normal, let’s start instilling this principle in our daily adventure. To know more about the Leave no Trace Principle, feel free to read it here:

  • Practice Green Fins

If talking travel destination, beaches and sea will never be absent in our list. It is because waters helps us release stress and soothes our mind after a stressful quarantine period. On the place where we can feel freedom, we can still practice being a sustainable tourist.

Sustainable Tourism as part of a Better Normal

When diving, snorkeling, swimming or any water or beach activities, always consider the Green Fin’s guideline. Green Fins, similar to LNT, is an approach to sustainable marine tourism activities operating in South East Asia, Caribbean and the Indian Ocean that works with business operators, communities and governments. It helps to implement environmental standards for the diving and snorkeling industry through a code of conduct to have less environmental impact towards marine life.

  • Choose Sustainable Products

Sustainable Tourism as part of a Better Normal

Our consumerism deters the demands that manufacturers look upon in making products. As a tourist we tend to become consumers as well but it’s neither a problem. By choosing sustainable products we could decrease our demand to those products that creates huge impact towards our environment.

In seafood, for example, do not choose seafood which is a product from illegal exploitation and overfishing. Choose a sustainable one. Meat consumption is also unhealthy –both—in human health and towards the environment . If possible stick to plant-based diets.

As tourist, we also love to prize our wander with a thing for remembrance. Avoid choosing illegal exploited and traded products such as shell like turtle shells. When buying one, you are just driving them to illegally exploit more wildlife. If possible choose eco-friendly products without or less impact from the environment.

  • Respect other Culture
“Respect begets respect”

Sustainable Tourism as part of a Better Normal

If you want others to respect you, give them what you wanted for yourself. No matter your personal opinions, as a tourist you willingly step into the cultures and traditions of each new place you visit. You are a guest in this person’s community, the rules and traditions often hold great significance in their lives — you must willingly travel from a place of respect.

There are local communities around the world that cares so much the environment. So, be careful when travelling and generating waste. You might end-up with a bad reputation. You can also give an offering or buy local products. That way you did not only support help the locals but also showing a sign of your respect to them.

  • Protect Heritage Site

Sustainable Tourism as part of a Better Normal

The place you have visited was already visited by others for years and will be visited by the next generation. As a tourist, you play a significant role in capturing the economic characteristics of heritage and harness these for conservation by generating funding, educating the community and influencing policy. It is an essential part of many national and regional economies and can be an important factor in development, when managed successfully.

The Philippines’ Tubbataha Reef Natural Park and Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan and Rice Terraces in Ifugao are just some of the natural wonders of UNESCO World Heritage. It is important to preserve its natural beauty so that the future generation can benefit and being a sustainable tourist is a key role in doing it.

  • Support local Tourism

Why travel far and spend more when you can enjoy local with a cheap expense but with a world-class experience? Supporting local tourism is one way of being a sustainable tourist because you don’t only need to travel far and increase your carbon footprint but you also save money for another plan. A top of that, you are also helping your home country’s economy by contributing to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In the Philippines, tourism accounts about 7% of the country’s GDP which holds a total of 20% of total employment in 2016.

One might not know it, but there are places locally which are far better or similar with foreign travel destination. With friends, the place is not the issue –be it local or international—memories is what always matter, of course, in a sustainable way.

Sustainable Tourism as part of a Better Normal

Our world’s tourism plays a vital role in procuring negative impact to our environment and it is also important in addressing or perhaps eliminating those. That, if every single tourist around the world will act responsibly and live sustainably. Also, with the firm grip of the authority in implementing the laws and full cooperation of all stakeholders. There are various ways in becoming a sustainable tourist and what was written above are just some. Nonetheless, it has the same goal –to create lesser impact towards our environment for the future generation to enjoy the beauty of what we have today.

In this current crisis, may we reflect back to the bad practices we did in the past and make sure to never commit it again. We have given months to contemplate what we have done. Now, it is time for a better normal –a citizen with a sustainable way of living—a sustainable tourist.


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White Beach in Boracay

Sustainable Tourism in the Philippines: How to be a Responsible Traveler

Klara Iskra Añonuevo

What is Sustainable Tourism?

15 ways to be a responsible traveler in the philippines, 1. visit ecotourism destinations and attractions in the philippines, 2. stay at eco-friendly hotels and resorts in the philippines, 3. book with dot-accredited local tour operators, 4. leave no trace, 5. bring reusable utensils and refillable bottles, 6. go on cultural immersions, 7. try farm tours, 8. eat at local restaurants, 9. follow proper interaction with wildlife, 10. reduce your carbon footprint with your transport choices, 11. explore nearby destinations, 12. spend more time in destinations, 13. support local when buying souvenirs, 14. use environment-friendly travel products, 15. go digital.

Boatman at the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Puerto Princesa Underground River in Palawan

With over 7,000 islands, the Philippines is home to many natural tourist spots . Stunning islands, spectacular beaches, breathtaking mountains, and rare endemic wildlife are just some of the reasons why you should visit the Philippines . It’s no surprise that the Philippines attracts millions of tourists every year, and while this is great for the country’s economy, it could affect its natural attractions, especially if tourists do not follow responsible travel and sustainable tourism practices. 

Pre-Holiday Sale

In fact, in 2020, it was reported that the Philippines was ranked 94th out of 99 countries when it comes to promoting sustainable tourism. In 2018, the top island Philippine destination called Boracay was closed to the general public for six months for rehabilitation.

See our popular Philippines Tour Packages

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Boracay, one of the most popular Visayas tourist spots , was suffering from deteriorating environmental conditions, partly due to the millions of tourists who visit it every year. These are just some reasons why practicing and promoting sustainable tourism in the Philippines is important.

Through campaigns like Save our Spots , the Department of Tourism has encouraged domestic and foreign tourists to travel responsibly and sustainably. The least we can do as tourists is to follow sustainable practices in the Philippines to help protect our environment. But there’s more to sustainable travel than just following the leave no trace principles.

In this article, we give you more ways you can help conserve the Philippines’ best natural assets on your next vacation in the Philippines .

See our popular Philippines Vacation Packages

Woman island hopping in El Nido

El Nido, Palawan

Sustainable tourism is the practice of considering the impact of tourism on the environment, the economy, and society while at the same time taking into account the needs of the tourists, the host communities, and the industry.

Why is sustainable tourism important? If we don’t take care of the natural resources in our tourist spots, it will lead to their deterioration and destruction, and future generations won’t be able to appreciate their beauty, while those from the tourism industry can potentially lose their jobs and source of income.

Being a responsible tourist is just one way to ensure that the best places to visit in the Philippines remain beautiful and open for everyone to enjoy.

See our popular Boracay Vacation Packages

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What are the 15 principles of sustainable tourism? There are many ways to be a responsible tourist in the Philippines and here are just some of them:


Basco Lighthouse in Batanes

The Philippines is home to many tourist attractions, and apart from the top tourist spots in the Philippines , there are ecotourism destinations and attractions like Batanes , The Masungi Georeserve in Rizal, Palaui Island in Cagayan, and Apo Island in Negros Oriental. These places and spots not only offer amazing local experiences but also give you the chance to practice responsible tourism as the local communities and stakeholders follow some of the best practices in sustainable tourism.

The people of Batanes, for example, have done a wonderful job of preserving the culture of the Ivatans by keeping their stone houses intact. The locals here also practice sustainable fishing and farming, while the local government prioritizes local culture and investors, which is why instead of 5-star hotels, you’ll mostly find homestays here.

See our popular Eco Tours

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Aerial view of El Nido Resorts Pangulasian Island

Photo by El Nido Resorts group

Your choice of accommodations is also another way how to practice sustainable tourism. Staying at some of the best eco-friendly resorts in the Philippines allows you to reduce your carbon footprint when traveling. Eco-friendly hotels follow sustainable practices such as organic farming, tree planting, rainwater recycling, solid waste segregation, composting, coastal clean-ups, farm-to-table dining, using local building materials, and using solar energy.

See our popular Philippine Luxury Vacation Packages

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Look for properties that have certification or awards from the Philippine Green Building Initiative, Inc, the ASEAN Green Hotel Awards, or the DOT’s ANAHAW Philippine Sustainable Tourism Certification.

Of course, you can also do more beyond just booking and staying at these hotels and resorts. You can turn off all the electronic devices, including the air conditioner, when leaving your hotel room. Let the staff know you will be reusing your towels, bed linen, and sheets. If your room is clean anyway, hang the “Don’t Disturb” sign to prevent unnecessary vacuuming and cleaning.

See our popular El Nido Tours and Activities

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Woman on ATV tour in Bicol

ATV Ride in Mt. Mayon, Legazpi, Albay

The Department of Tourism has advised local hotels, resorts, and tour operators to seek DOT accreditation so the department can help them adopt sustainable tourism practices. DOT-accredited accommodations and tour operators get access to technical tools that will help them become sustainable. This is part of the DOT’s plan on how to develop sustainable tourism in the country. 

When you tour the Philippines , book with DOT-accredited travel agencies like Guide to the Philippines. We partner with DOT-accredited hotels, resorts, and tour operators and help them to widen their global reach by showcasing their products online in our platform. 

See our popular Legazpi Tours and Activities

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Man relaxing on Daku Island

Daku Island in Siargao

The “Clean as you go” or CLAYGO rule should be followed not only when you travel but in your everyday life. Simply put, leave no trace means you don’t leave any item when you visit a natural tourist destination. This rule is mainly for litter like tissue, food wrappers, and plastic bottles, but be mindful of unintentionally leaving behind personal belongings, which could also end up harming the environment. 

Some tourist destinations like the Pink Beach in Zamboanga have their own strict leave no trace policies, and those who violate them can be charged fines or put in jail and/or community service. 

See our popular Zamboanga Tours and Activities

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Backpacker by Mayon Volcano

Mt. Mayon in Legazpi, Albay

One simple way to practice how to be a responsible traveler is to bring your own reusable utensils and water bottles when you travel. This will help reduce your use of single-use plastics and lessen your carbon footprint when traveling. If you’re worried about these items taking too much space in your bag, you should consider foldable travel spoons, forks, and chopsticks and collapsible water bottles. 

Similar to the leave no trace policy, some places in the Philippines have tried reducing waste by banning single-use plastics. In Siargao , for example, plastic bags are not allowed, and restaurants are prohibited from selling water in plastic bottles. El Nido also has a plastic ban which requires all boat passengers to surrender their single-use plastic bottles and bags before boarding.

See our popular Siargao Tours and Activities

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Ifugao native at the Banaue Rice Terraces

Ifugao native at the Banaue Rice Terraces

The Philippines is home to many different cultures, and one way to experience some of these cultures and how to encourage sustainable tourism is to go on a cultural immersion in an indigenous village. Cultural immersion can be as simple as sharing a meal with some of the locals or participating in their local activities or as immense as living with the locals in their homes for a period of time. Many Luzon tourist spots like Buscalan, Batad, Banaue , and Sagada offer homestays for tourists.

Whatever path you choose, make sure to always be respectful of the traditions, rituals, and the locals themselves. Learning about another culture and way of life will not only be a learning experience, but it will also help you appreciate the destination even more.

See our popular Cultural Tours

Bohol countryside private tour & shared loboc river lunch cruise with transfers, bohol countryside private tour with loboc river cruise lunch & transfers from cebu city.

Produce growing in Bohol Bee Farm

Photo by Bohol Bee Farm

When we think about what are the characteristics of a sustainable tourism destination, many of them can actually be found on a farm, so staying at or touring a farm is a no-brainer when it comes to traveling responsibly.

The Philippine agrotourism industry has bloomed, thanks to the country’s best farm tour destinations . Agrotourism in the Philippines offers agricultural activities like feeding animals, picking your own fruits and vegetables, and various workshops, including cooking demonstrations. 

Take it to the next level by staying at farm resorts in the Philippines . Spending a couple of days in these farm stays will not only teach you how to achieve sustainable tourism, but it will also teach you ways of how to be more sustainable in your daily routine.

See our popular Farm Tours

Bohol countryside tour with loboc river cruise lunch & panglao island tour, tagaytay palace in the sky taal view & farms shared day tour with lunch & transfers from manila, bohol panglao island attractions tour with transfers | bohol bee farm, alona beach, hinagdanan cave.

Grilled Filipino food

Filipino cuisine offers a variety of tastes, smells, and textures, and if you can’t have a meal at an actual Filipino home, the next best way to experience it is in a local Filipino restaurant. Not only will you experience a more authentic meal, but you will also help out small businesses thrive. 

Patronizing local restaurants also help the environment. Local restaurants that source their ingredients locally have a smaller carbon footprint because the produce doesn’t have to travel far to reach their destination. While eating at any restaurant, remember that you can help reduce your food waste and promote sustainability by only ordering food that you can finish and ordering dishes with ingredients that are in season.

See our popular Food Tours (Kain Na!)

Guimaras top attractions & island hopping day tour with transfers from iloilo, bohol loboc river cruise lunch with private transfers from panglao, iloilo city food tour & sightseeing with transfers | la paz batchoy, pancit molo, jaro church.

Tariser in the Tarsier Sanctuary

Tarsier in Bohol

Not all wildlife attractions are created equal. Do your research and look for those that consider the welfare of the creatures that they feature. Show that you know how to travel responsibly by following all the rules set by the guides.

For example, when visiting the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary in Bohol , you will be told to stay quiet as much as possible, not use flash when taking photos, and refrain from touching the tarsiers to ensure that they won’t get stressed.

See our popular Bohol Tours and Activities

Bohol countryside tour chocolate hills to loboc river cruise lunch with hotel transfers.

If you want to see and swim with whale sharks in Donsol, you will be told to keep your distance from the animals and not use flash photography to avoid startling and hurting them.

See our popular Sorsogon Tours and Activities

Sorsogon donsol firefly tour with transfers, 1-week bicol albay & sorsogon nature & sightseeing philippines itinerary tour package from manila, sorsogon matnog island hopping tour with lunch & transfers | tikling island, juag marine sanctuary.

Travelers biking in Intramuros

Bamboo bike ride in Intramuros, Manila

Transportation can greatly add to your carbon footprint, but with many options for traveling to and within a destination, your choices can help you lessen that. When taking flights, choose direct flights over those with layovers. Heavier airplanes also consume more fuel, so do your part and pack as light as you can.

How to achieve sustainable tourism while exploring a destination? Choose to walk or bike whenever possible. Not only do you help reduce your carbon footprint, but you’ll also get to appreciate your surroundings more since you are passing by them at a slower pace. Destinations like Boracay and Intramuros in Manila offer bike tours in the Philippines where you can explore attractions while burning some calories!

If your stops are not close enough to bike or walk to, use public transportation or shared rides instead of using a private vehicle. 

See our popular Manila & Near Manila Day Tours

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Anawangin Cove in Zambales

Anawangin Cove in Zambales

Of course, if you can forego the flights altogether, the better, as this means your carbon footprint will be lower. The Philippines is full of amazing destinations that, chances are, you don’t need to board a flight to see at least one of the best beaches near Manila or the best beaches in the Philippines . If you want to explore Luzon, you can go on a road trip near Manila and enjoy nearby places like Pampanga , Bataan , Batangas , and Tagaytay .

Posting about your trips is also a simple way of how to promote sustainable tourism. If more people knew about the amazing destinations that are near where they live, more travelers would be willing to explore these, which helps distribute tourists across several destinations more evenly.

See our popular Tagaytay Vacation Packages

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Woman in hammock in El Nido, Palawan

While it is sometimes tempting to pack a lot of destinations in your travel itinerary, consider limiting your vacation to just one area. Staying in one location reduces your carbon emissions since you don’t need to travel from one destination to the next. Booking a holiday in one place also means less time actually traveling and more time exploring, which allows you to spend more time in attractions because your visits aren’t rushed. 

For an even more convenient vacation, you can book Philippine tour packages . Some of these packages already include accommodations and tours, so you can focus on taking in and appreciating the destination itself.

Hand weaver in Zamboanga

Whether you visit Luzon, Visayas, or Mindanao tourist spots , you’ll likely find a shop or even roving vendors selling unique and locally made souvenirs. Patronizing these small businesses will not only help the local industry thrive, but the items you will buy will more likely have a smaller carbon footprint compared to those that you can find in big shops since locally made souvenirs don’t need to travel far to reach the customers.

See our popular Baguio Tours and Activities

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If you can, visit shops that actually allow tourists to see the production process so you can learn about and understand the local heritage more. In places like Zamboanga City , Vigan , and Baguio , you can visit weaving centers and villages to see how local fabric is made.

See our popular Vigan Tours and Activities

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It is also better to buy souvenirs that you will actually use so you can lessen waste and save money. For example, when visiting Laguna tourist spots , it is advisable to drop by Liliw so you can shop for affordable but sturdy slippers and shoes.

See our popular Laguna Tours and Activities

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Aerial view of Banol Beach

Banol Beach in Coron, Palawan

Sometimes the products we use on our travels affect the environment negatively. The chemicals on our sunblock and our insect repellant can have chemicals that are harmful to the reefs, the sea, and the rest of the environment. Before your trip, look for sunscreen and insect repellants made from natural ingredients that won’t harm the planet. 

Sand- and water-repelling towels are also good to use when you’re traveling to the best beaches in the Philippines . Bringing home sand stuck to your towel may be just a mild annoyance to you, but put together all the sand travelers accidentally bring home, and you have a beach eroding faster than usual. 

See our popular Coron Vacation Packages

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Check-in gates at the Clark International Airport

Photo by Clark International Airport

What is the aim of sustainable tourism? It is to ultimately protect the environment while also taking into consideration the need of travelers and tourism stakeholders. One of the simplest ways you can help is to ditch the printed itineraries and tickets and go fully digital.

Most airlines and hotels now accept digital copies of itineraries or QR codes, so there’s no reason for you to print out something that you could actually misplace. If you’re worried about not being able to download what you need because of poor or no internet connection, access what you need when you have connectivity and save a screenshot so it becomes available even when you’re offline.

While digital activities also have their own carbon footprint, at least they don’t have a physical output that could eventually end up in the trash. 

Practice Sustainable Tourism in the Philippines

White Beach in Boracay

With the effects of climate change becoming harsher with every passing day, we need to rethink the way we live, and that includes how we travel. We need to understand what is sustainable tourism development and do our part as travelers to help preserve the beauty of our favorite travel destinations. 

Traveling sustainably and responsibly is the only way that we and future generations can keep enjoying all the attractions and the best islands in the Philippines for many years to come.

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Open Call for Essays/Articles: National Publication on the Sustainable Development Goals

How do we use innovation, digitalization and financing to accelerate the SDGs in North Macedonia and leave no one behind

October 27, 2023

The Institute for Human Rights on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country office in Skopje, North Macedonia announces an open call for essays/articles. 


To bring together authors and their written contributions [in the form of essays/articles] for a UNDP publication thematically adjacent with the Sustainable Development Goals, and how we can accelerate their achievements in North Macedonia. 


The sustainable development goals, and how to accelerate their achievement in North Macedonia, taking into consideration the Leave no one behind (LNOB) principle.


  • Focus, address one or more of the  17 SDGs , while focusing on North Macedonia. 
  • Focus on innovation, digitalization, or financing as enablers that can help accelerate the achievement of the SDGs. 
  • Provide a diagnosis of the current situation in the country, but also provide proposed policies, solutions, and pathways to address the situation by government, civil society, and the private sector to build societies that are inclusive, sustainable and just, and leave no one behind.  
  • Address the synergies of the selected goals/s with the Leave no one behind principle, which focuses on ending discrimination and exclusion, and reducing the inequalities and vulnerabilities among people. 
  • Articles that take into consideration the SDGs/indicators where UNDP is a custodian, and/or focuses its work on North Macedonia will be welcomed. 
  • Articles that take into consideration the interlinkages between the SDG’s and the human rights principles would also be welcomed. 


  •  The final publication should have minimum 10 essays, including essays that touch upon different SDGs. 
  •   Each essay/article should not be longer than 3,000 words.
  •   All essays/articles should be written in English.
  •  Authors are free to use both original and existing data in preparing their papers. 
  • All authors should use Harvard style of referencing for their articles. 
  • All interested authors should submit an abstract , no longer than 300 words, outlining their idea, as well as 5 keywords that summarize the core idea behind their essay/article. The authors should also include their short biography , no longer than 500 words, as an accompanying document. 
  • All submissions should be sent to [email protected] no later than November 5 th , 2023,  with the subject line ‘Submission for National Publication on SDGs’.
  • Texts that are coauthored are eligible for acceptance as well. If an author is selected for this national publication, they will have to submit the full final version of their text, no later than the 30 th of November 2023.
  • The financial compensation for the selected texts, is 5,500 MKD , subject to personal income tax deduction.

We encourage anyone interested, including academics, students, CSOs representatives, and individuals from the private sector, to apply! 


The selected authors and texts will be published in a UNDP national study, and the publication will be showcased at a public event taking place in Skopje.

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A minority within a minority — women vets at college, hilary whitehall putnam, 89.

Alyssa Ross, Naomi Whidden, and Vanessa Valverde.

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Seventy-one U.S. military veterans attend Harvard College. That’s less than 1 percent of the student body. Of that group, only six are women. Ahead of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, the Gazette caught up with a couple of them about what it’s like to be at Harvard after hanging up the uniform.

Naomi Whidden.

Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

Naomi Whidden

Marine Corps Veteran

Naomi Whidden went from fixing radios in the Marines to discovering stars in astronomy class.

Having joined up in 2017, former Sergeant Whidden served 5½ years as a ground electronics transmission systems maintainer, working with radios and communication systems that use radio frequency — things like satellite terminals or anything using satellite networks. The first-year, who attended the summer rising-scholars program, said she is looking to concentrate in plant sciences.

“I hope to work as a forester and maybe manage state timber or federal timber or something in the U.S. Forest Service,” she said. “To manage public resources in a way that’s responsible and sustainable.”

Naomi Whidden on aircraft carrier.

Courtesy of Naomi Whidden

One of the biggest challenges, she said, has been managing expectations, especially being in a long-distance relationship. She met her wife, Savannah, in the Marine Corps, and the couple got married in 2019. Savannah is still on active duty, living in Japan but soon to be stationed in D.C.

“A lot of times you justify being separated from your spouse by saying ‘I’m gonna go to school.’ And [expecting] to do well in school. And so sometimes when you don’t, you’re like, ‘Hey, is it worth it?’ For me to actually come here and be apart and then think you’re doing poorly? That can be really tough mentally.”

The key is remaining focused on the long-term vision. “I think that it’s important to keep yourself balanced and not get too upset about arbitrary grades,” she said.

Whidden, who enjoys cycling in her free time and has an affinity for tattoos, encourages classmates to get to know their veteran peers on campus.

“There is a cohesive veteran community here, but each each person is such an individual with such different backgrounds,” she said. “I think a lot of times there’s other students [who] think we’re just one type or we’re just one political view. Or we’re all from the same kind of cloth. And we all come from different backgrounds, different sexual identities, different family situations.

“Come say hi, and meet us and know that we’re all different and we’re a pretty diverse group.”

Alissa Maerzke.

Photo courtesy of Alissa Maerzke

Alissa Maerzke

Alissa Maerzke said she joined the Marines not only to serve her country, but “because it was the hardest branch, and I wanted the challenge.”

The 26-year-old grew up in the small town of Waterford, Wisconsin, 90 minutes from Chicago and 45 minutes from downtown Milwaukee. She graduated high school in 2014, then did a semester at community college after being turned down by the University of Wisconsin.

What was intended as a prank around high school graduation proved oddly prescient.

“The last day of high school, our valedictorian, she wanted people to wear a shirt with where they were going to college. And I was at this sports store, and I saw these Harvard shirts. I bought that and I wore it,” she said. “And she got really mad.”

Maerzke served as an intelligence specialist during her time in the Corps. Starting on a non-deployable unit, 1st Marine Division, Headquarters Battalion, she was eventually chosen to be one of the first people to integrate women into the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, an infantry group with a long history.

“When I showed up, I think I was the third female there, and the other two were an officer and a staff NCO,” she said.

After leaving the Marines in 2020, Maerzke spent three semesters, two of them online, at Columbia. Not the right fit, she set her sights on Harvard, and studying government.

“Working in intel, I guess I was very interested in international relations … And I love the classes. It’s awesome. Just being around all these incredibly intelligent faculty. And I’m very grateful for the opportunity,” she said. “And it’s also really awesome for me to see Harvard accepting more and more vets.”

When she’s not in class, Maerzke can often be found atop a horse during polo practice.

“I really love that,” she said.

Vanessa Valverde in front of Memorial Hall.

Niles Singer/Harvard Staff Photographer

Vanessa Valverde

  Originally from Los Angeles, Vanessa Valverde is one of “technically eight” siblings.

“I have four older stepsisters, a twin sister, younger brother, and a baby sister,” she said.

She and her twin, though, were the ones who got regaled with tales of glory by their Marine father when they were children.

“He talked about it all the time,” she said, smiling. “One time he asked me and my sister if we would do it when we were like 10 years old. And I was like, no way. No. Definitely not.”

Little did she know then that in the future she would have her own fond memories of the close friendships made with fellow Marines, and times she would look back on with pride.

Vanessa Valverde holds Harvard banner while in uniform.

Courtesy of Vanessa Valverde

Valverde’s initial plan after high school was college. She attended classes for business at the University of California, Riverside, while her sister went off to boot camp. While away at college, unrest in Syria was making headlines, prompting Valverde to consider taking a break from higher education to get involved. It was attending her sister’s boot camp graduation that sold her.

“Within like a week, I swore in,” she said.

Valverde, who worked in signals intelligence during her time as a Marine, said the experience helped her prepare for her future in academia.

“When I went to college the first time I lacked passion and purpose, which my grades desperately reflected,” she said. “The Marines Corps gave me experiences that helped me have a passion for certain subjects in an academic setting.”

She added that her father also helped instill discipline early on.

“He would tell me, ‘Do it right the first time, so you don’t have to do it a second time.’ And that stayed with me. And they really preached that in the Marine Corps from day one,” she said. “When I’m taking notes I think to myself, ‘If this is the one opportunity I have to study this, I need to make sure I study it right.’”

Valverde said one of her proudest accomplishments as a female Marine was being a team leader. She said while she technically wasn’t a platoon sergeant, she fulfilled the duties of one.

“Female Marines just don’t get enough credit. Some of the most dependable people I’ve met and worked with, or even my friends, they’re the people who will get it done,” she said.

An undeclared first-year, Valverde was thrust into College life pretty immediately after finishing duty. She said she left her station in the Philippines in April or May, with School starting in August.

“You go from living right next to your best friends for six years — you do everything together — to all of a sudden you’re completely gone. And you’re watching your best friends move on without you,” she said. “Harvard Undergraduate Veterans Organization (HUVO) was great for meeting veterans. It’s great for finding like networking opportunities within the veteran community, or being able to find jobs that can recognize our experience.”

Of her female vets friend group, she says they watch movies together when they can.

Alyssa Ross in Harvard Yard.

Alyssa Ross

Alyssa Ross, who grew up in the small town of Mexico, New York, didn’t know what she wanted to do after she graduated high school. She, alongside her twin sister, went off to SUNY Binghamton as an undeclared student.

She felt as if she found her calling watching a friend’s Marines graduation ceremony at Parris Island.

“I just was really motivated by what I saw there. But growing up, our parents had never wanted us to consider the military as a career path,” she said.

That’s not to say she wasn’t familiar with the Marines. Her high school had a JROTC program which she had always admired.

“I had a lot of admiration for the Marines that ran that program,” she said. “Becoming a Marine just seemed like an adventure and also like a challenge.”

Alyssa Ross marching in uniform.

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Ross

Upon enlisting, Ross became a data systems administrator. She trained at a Marines schoolhouse in California before being stationed at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., where she served with two different units. Altogether, Ross spent four years on active duty.

But when it became time to think about her next steps, Ross said it was a mentor — Major Monte — who encouraged her Ivy League path.

“He was always really supportive of me, and he knew that I wanted to go to college when I got out of the Marine Corps,” she said. “I hadn’t considered going to Harvard, but he encouraged me to apply to Ivy League schools. Now I’m here, and I have him to thank for that.”

Ross has surely made her mentor proud with only a semester and a half left before she graduates with a computer science degree. She said after graduation she wants to become a software engineer.

“I would say, as corny as it is, 100 percent of the people that go to Ivy League schools are people that applied to Ivy League schools. So the first step is applying,” she said. “I think people might be surprised by the things they can accomplish if they give it a shot. And veterans might not immediately think that they’d be welcome or wanted in the Ivy League community. But we are and we have things to offer here that are unique.”

However, not all was smooth sailing for the soon-to-be grad. Ross said it was hard to let go of the service when she first left.

“I realized how much the Marine Corps had become part of my identity in that time, and then suddenly not being around Marines anymore, and not having the close-knit unit that you had, takes some adjusting to,” she said. “There’s times I miss the Marine Corps a lot. There’s other times, though, where I feel a great sense of freedom. You give up a lot of freedoms when you’re serving — freedoms you probably didn’t realize you even had. Getting them back after you get out is a special feeling. It makes me feel compelled to take advantage of them.”

Ross has rebuilt some of that community with her role as director of membership engagement at HUVO, and by spending time with her fellow female vets. She said their group chat is called Femmes Fatales.

Ayleen Villarreal in front of Wigglesworth Hall.

Ayleen Villarreal

Air Force Veteran

First-generation college student Ayleen Villarreal’s parents, originally from Mexico, immigrated to El Paso, Texas, before she was born. Villarreal lived there until she enlisted in the Air Force at 19. The native Texan served 4½ years.

“I joined the Air Force because I wanted to be independent,” she said, proudly repping her Harvard sweatshirt on a sunny day on the yard. “But I knew it was going to be temporary because I knew I was going to get my degree.”

Villarreal kept her sights trained on college. While serving as an intelligence analyst, she took college classes online, adding to dual-credit classes she took in high school. Despite coming from a background unfamiliar with higher education, Villarreal said she set her sights high.

“I always wanted to go to Harvard. Harvard has been my dream school since I was a kid. And so I decided to apply because I wanted to see if I got rejected. I wanted to try, because the answers are always going to be no unless you ask,” she said.

thesis about sustainable tourism in the philippines

Photo courtesy of Ayleen Villarreal

Once she got accepted, Villarreal said she didn’t know what to expect. Coming from the military, and from a low-income immigrant family, Harvard seemed daunting.

“People that have no knowledge about college don’t know what to expect,” she said. “I assumed it was going to be hard in some way, but that’s what it’s supposed to be.”

Currently a junior studying government, with a secondary in global health policy, Villarreal said she has gotten the hang of academics versus the high-pressure daily tasks she did while active.

“As a junior, I can identify better ways to manage all the work, but definitely coming in as a student veteran, that definitely was a different scenario from being in the U.S. Air Force. Honestly, the only thing that is similar to the military is that you’ll have to be persistent. And you have to dedicate time to it.”

She added, “The biggest challenge for me was when I first came in was shifting my mindset from U.S. Air Force needs first to my needs first. And focusing instead of saving lives and protecting national security of the U.S. into writing essays and doing homework and showing up to my classes.”

Villarreal hopes to go to law school when she graduates.


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