Community Development and Sustainability in El Nido

July 25, 2017 | By Sabrina Romulo

It is unbelievable how quickly time has passed. We are now all well into the second half of the fellowship and I cannot believe how much I have learned along the way. It is true that I have absorbed so much knowledge about El Nido and ENR, but the meat of my learning throughout the fellowship has been about not just community development, but about myself and what I am truly capable of doing.

First and foremost, El Nido has become much more to me than just the place that I have been working. The streets, stores, restaurants and corners have all become so familiar to me. Our drives from our Headquarters to the Central Office and back have become part of a routine I constantly and truly look forward to. I have not only found a spot in our office, but also one at our dining table — both of which have made me feel a part of a team and part of a family.

Within the ENR community alone, I have met some of the most hardworking, passionate, and respected people throughout the El Nido municipality. I have encountered people who have devoted their entire lives to a company they genuinely believe in and a company that believes as much, if not more, in their employees, as well. In our community visits to different barangays, we have met people with such infectious smiles, people who are so determined to change the lives of their families and the people around them. In these same visits, we have encountered people who have experienced so much hardship and difficulty, but continue to work their hardest towards better futures.

In El Nido, I have regained my understanding of the Filipino spirit: despite everything there is to lose, everything that is standing in our way as a country, and all the reasons to just give up, with enough determination, pride, love and assistance, anything is possible if we set our minds to it.

As I mentioned, my time as a GU Impacts Fellow in El Nido has truly become a very personal learning experience. At first, I was surrounded by very unfamiliar people in a very unfamiliar place without many of the things I thought were essential to me. But that has changed considerably. I have never really been a person who experienced “the new” very well. I like to stay within my comfort zone and to live in and with what I know. I am glad that I have been able to push myself out of this comfort zone because if I hadn’t, I can sincerely say that I would not be the person I am today. I have gained invaluable life experiences here in El Nido. For instance, I am now a certified open water SCUBA diver, I know how to compost, I have seen dolphins, sea turtles, and baby sharks in the wild, I have witnessed and inspected 250-million-year-old Permian fossils, and I even climbed a limestone tower in flip flops! But besides all of that fun stuff, this fellowship has cultivated a personal sense of responsibility and respect for sustainability. The environment, particularly human interaction with it, has always taken a back seat in my mind. I always just thought that the political, social, economic and technological aspects of an issue were independent from the environment. I now realize with so much clarity that the environment is very much not mutually exclusive from all of these things. As I approach my future studies, as well as my life, what I have learned working for ENR will become a permanent part of me.

I hope that one day I will have the opportunity to work again with a company that has the same commitment to the well-rounded development of a community that ENR does. I have come to see ENR as much more than just a resort found in one of the most beautiful island provinces in the world. ENR is a knowledge center for its employees and the greater El Nido community, it is a large partner and benefactor of the local government unit, it is an organization committed to the preservation and conservation of marine and terrestrial wildlife, and it is a source of livelihood for many of those from the province. ENR is the embodiment of a firm that strives for so much more than just profit generation; ENR demonstrates the potential of every single private firm. With more private companies like ENR, I truly believe that the Philippines and the world can be better places to live in.

Developing new solutions to old problems.

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