Issue of June 9, 2019
     
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Benguet
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La Trinidad community gets involved in ‘voluntourism’
by Ofelia C. Empian

Bayanihan is very much alive in La Trinidad, Benguet, as various individuals and groups volunteer their time to help out in beautifying the municipality.

Municipal Tourism Officer Valred Olsim said the activity called ‘voluntourism’ is open to all interested groups and individuals who want to help out in whatever way they can in the town.

Olsim said voluntourism is a Western concept which is the marriage of “volunteer” and “tourism,” in which tourists would visit a place to lend their services while exploring new cultures and places.

“But it could also mean that the community members would help out in their own capacities,” Olsim said.

The activity started last year, in which volunteers, mostly from the 15 to 25 years old bracket, responded to the Tourism Office’s call for volunteers.

Olsim said 120 individuals who volunteered since last year.

He said the volunteers assisted in cleanup drives, mural painting and painting of sidewalks and sheds, and other beautification activities of the municipality. 

“We hope that with this activity, we are bringing into the consciousness of the community (the significance of being involved) and that the (residents) would have the sense of community,” he said.

As a capital town, La Trinidad is fast becoming a melting pot of various cultures not only of the highlands but also from the lowlands.

With this, Olsim said he hopes that the community, whether or not they grew up in La Trinidad, would be involved and help in the development of the municipality.

“If a person feels they belong in a place then they would have the consciousness to care for the place – in maintaining cleanliness, peace and order – and that is what we hope to happen with this endeavor,” he said.

With the interests especially of the youth to be involved, he said they would expand the activity starting by first creating a database.

Interested volunteers could visit the office of the tourism building at the municipal park.

Volunteers would be asked to fill up a form about them and their hobbies.

Olsi said this way, they could track down volunteers whom they could tap when it comes to music, arts, tourism, etc. activities of the municipality.

He said they would also provide trainings in the future for volunteers who could be tapped as tour guides for dignitaries or other visitors in La Trinidad.


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