Palawan's Pie Alvarez and eco-tourism
SAN VICENTE, Palawan - Carmela Alvarez, or Pie, as she is known to friends, was in her last year of college when her father asked her if she wanted to run for vice mayor of San Vicente.
To his surprise, the 20-year-old told him she wanted to run for mayor instead. Pie promptly gave up a dream Chanel junior internship filled with couture, fashion, and runways to come home and be a public servant.
“It’s very difficult to be a mayor very young, because when you’re young, you kind of want to go do the fun things, but because of that [being a mayor] I have to balance it,” Pie said.
Campaign season started while she was still finishing her degree in International Business Administration with a concentration in Environmental Technology and Global Marketing Management at Babson College in Boston.
With an Internet connection being a rare luxury in San Vicente, Pie sent papers and requirements to professors via a laptop with a broadband stick.
Now the young mayor officiates weddings even though she’s never been married, gives couples counseling despite being happily single, and gets woken up at odd hours because of wandering alligators and wild animals.
Despite these quirky anecdotes on the adventures of a small town mayor, she’s passionate about the real issues in San Vicente.
Pie is serious about developing the small town in a sustainable and responsible way. With its 14-kilometer stretch of white sand and 100,000 hectares of untouched lush forest, San Vicente is poised to be the next big tourist spot in the country.
But she is not willing to let San Vicente go the way of other tourist spots that have become rundown, dirty, and abandoned.
“You need to develop, because again it’s a very poor town, so we need the money. But to develop it in a way that isn’t eco-friendly or sustainable is just wrong,” she said.
Pie plans to promote eco-tourism in San Vicente – making it a place that people visit to get back in touch with nature, while enjoying some of the basic comforts of a developed town.
The mayor has collaborated with Cream Silk to launch the “Her Difference” promo – an initiative that will draw women eco-warriors to San Vicente to share their principles of preserving natural beauty and women empowerment and help spread the message of ecological protection and preservation.
It’s all about San Vicente attracting the right kind of travelers -- those who will respect the paradise they’re in.
“For me I think it’s very valid today to ask for a little bit more responsibility when it comes to your travels. It’s not just a vacation, you’re still responsible for what you do. So that’s something I definitely want to get out of pushing for an eco-tourism structure.” – Rappler.com