by Euden Valdez via Manila Times
Philippine island destination to host world congress of bays club in February
IN the northern coastline of Mindoro Island, the seventh biggest among the Philippines’ legendary 7,107 islands, lies the bay of Puerto Galera.
Accessible via boat from the port of Batangas from Metro Manila, the island has long been a favorite destination among Filipinos, thanks to its white beaches, clear waters and abundant nature, as well as being affordable especially when compared to Boracay.
Unknown to many to this day though, Puerto Galera has been named “The Most Beautiful Bay in the World,” credited as such since 2005 by Club Des Plus Belles Baies Du Monde or the Club of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World.
This accolade is thanks to Frenchman Hubert d’Aboville who has made the Philippines his second home, and Puerto Galera his home away from home. (d’Aboville was featured on The Sunday Times Magazine cover story, “Man on Malasimbo’s Mountain,” on January 12, 2014,).
His titular d’Aboville Foundation took charge of the meticulous accreditation process, and up to this day, works hard to maintain Puerto Galera’s place in the internationally known club.
This year, d’Aboville’s efforts, coupled with the strong support of Puerto Galera’s local government, will come to fruition as the island hosts the 11th Congress of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World. Happening in February, the event will gather representatives from about 30 bay members of the club.
Last week, d’Aboville and Puerto Galera Mayor Hubbert Dolor shared their enthusiasm over the upcoming congress—especially how it is poised to boost the municipality’s local tourism—at a press conference at the Holiday Inn and Suites Makati.
“This is a very good way to promote worldwide our country and our bay[s],” enthused d’Aboville noting that he had seen this potential at the club’s previous gatherings around the globe. Out of the total 10 congresses held, he had already attended eight, three of which he asked Mayor Dolor to accompany him.
For his part, Dolor admitted that hosting such a big delegation will be a challenge for Puerto Galera, even as it is a first class municipality with 12 coastal barangays, one upland barangay, and a population of 32,000.
Nevertheless, he expressed confidence that they will be able to accommodate their guests from around the world. He shared, “We are a diverse people and we are able to manage the foreign investors, as well as the countless tourists that come to us, both locally and internationally.”
Also in support of Puerto Galera Most Beautiful Bay Inc.’s endeavor is the Tourism Promotions Board of the Department of Tourism, as well as the Environmental Protection Office of the President of the Philippines.
All hard work
For additional background, The Sunday Times Magazine asked d’Aboville how Puerto Galera was chosen to host bay of the 11th congress.
He replied, “About three years ago, I was asked as the president and founder of the Puerto Galera Most Beautiful Bay Inc. ‘Will you want to take charge of the 11th World Congress?’
“At that time, I didn’t know what would happen but I said yes! And the beginning of the bidding started and it was a lot of work.”
D’Aboville then recalled how tough competition was what with other bays also bidding to bring the congress to their countries.
“On the world board, they voted for the Philippines. [So] we are blessed to be selected,” d’Aboville proudly said.
In a way, the selection did not come as a surprise for d’Aboville who said that Puerto Galera has always been an active member of the club. He explained, “In this world organization, our Philippine team is very visible. We continually show the things that we do in Puerto Galera so people recognize us.”
Adapting to climate change
As the 11th World Congress of The Most Beautiful Bays in the World takes place from February 1 to 6, the event has aptly taken the theme, “Adapting to climate change.” Significantly, it aims to address problems caused by the world’s greatest environmental challenge.
“All around the world, we are facing the same problem [of climate change]. The bays in Mexico, in Canada, in Brazil, in France, in Portugal, always have the same problems,” the French expatriate lamented.
As such, the club members are expected to discuss their respective situations, as well as come up with solutions, which can be shared among the different countries.
“Nobody is allowed to go there and not talk and share. This is key, sharing your problems, experiences and solutions,” d’Aboville enthused.
The d’Aboville Foundation is active in the environmental preservation of Oriental Mindoro’s bays by holding regular coastal clean-ups, among other projects.
It also strongly supports the Noe Conservation that spearheads the protection of the Philippines’ tamaraw, an endangered species of water buffalo that is only found in the island. Its work is concentrated at Mt. Iglit-Baco National Park that runs from Oriental Mindoro down to Occidental Mindoro.