Have a vacation with a cause

Posted at 06/23/2013 5:21 PM

Where have you gone this summer for vacation?

What if you can have a vacation with a cause? Is that enough incentive to have one again? Is there such a thing?

Kawil Tours is a Palawan-based social enterprise in Culion that does just that. They offer you a great way to enjoy the seas and islands of Palawan and help the Culion fishing community at the same time. Their website promises, “a meaningful journey awaits.”

The community runs the tour of the island with a help of volunteers and well-meaning entrepreneurs. There are inns and local hotels to stay but the uniqueness of the business involves community enterprises. The island youth serve as tour guides and the mothers cook the food for the island expedition.

Kawil Tours offers diving and island hopping expedition/tours around Culion and Coron. Enjoy the famous white sand beaches, lush virgin islands, diverse coral gardens, towering mangroves and waterfalls that Palawan is known for - plus the unique history of Isla Culion. “It is hard to explain but the island just captures you,” says Guido Sarreal, one of the founders of Kawil Tours.

Perhaps this is because of the beauty Palawan, with its typical black island cliffs and clear blue waters. Maybe, this is coupled with the mystique of the rich history of Isla Culion and how they emerged from their painful past as a leper colony from long before. Definitely, the thought of having a vacation with a cause adds to this reverence. And perhaps to further ensure this cause, the tour includes time for you to help clean up some of the islands’ white sand beaches as part of the expedition.

The vacation does not cost much. It starts with a P1,500 plane ride with Cebu Pacific from Manila to Busuanga. Just an additional P350 total cost in transfers and you are already at enchanting Isla Culion. Kawil Tour packages are about 5,380 per person for two nights, which include transfers, meals & snacks, snorkeling and tour guide fees. These include the hotel, food and the expedition tour of the islands in the area. Wreck and reef diving activities are available at an additional P2,000 per single tank dive.

In comparison, a night’s stay at a famous resort in Palawan would cost you around $400 or about P18,000 excluding airfares. Kawil Tours at Isla Culion surely presents itself as a strong alternative to socially conscious people who love the beach and the seas. Are you one of them?

Kawil Tours is co founded by Renlee Cubelo, Elee Mar Bulotano, Jun Tabi, and Guido Sarreal and in partnership with Fr. Xavier Alpasa SJ of the Simbahang Linkod ng Bayan. Kawil is a Bisayan word that means fish hook. The social enterprise is adequately named because of the fishing community’s primary means of living.

Kawil Tours helps the community by promoting the Island as a tourism destination and letting the families be part of this endeavor. Fr. Javi explains, “Kawil Tours is an authentic social enterprise empowering the people of Culion and advocating environmental conservation and tourism.”

If you wish to have a vacation with a cause, visit Isla Culion by contacting Kawil Tours at http://www.kawiltours.com. You can also call them at 211-1518.

But if you have already spent that money you saved on some grand vacation somewhere, maybe you still have some money left to have a cause. It’s not yet too late. You can support Kawil Tours thru The Spark Project web site by donating using your Paypal account or online credit card.

Kawil Tours is raising money for a tour boat. A week ago, they launched a campaign to raise P300,000 in 45 days with the help of Spark Project. In the first 6 days, they were able to raise P184,100 with 38 days still left in the campaign. This means you can still be part of Kawil Tour’s boat endeavor by going to: http://www.thesparkproject.com/project/kawil-tours-tour-boat/ . Your donation now will help increase the programs that Kawil offer the guests and the community.

Jun Tabi puts it well when he said, “A thousand pesos is a thousand ways to improve Kawil Tours, 1,000 reasons for you to visit Isla Culion, and 1,000 reasons to continue to empower the Culion community.”

The Spark Project was a great help to Kawil Tours by providing a platform for crowdfunding. Basically, The Spark Project is an online community for like-minded Filipinos to support and crowd-fund their creative, innovative, and passion-driven projects.

According Krz Lopez, one of the co-founders, “There is a big gap between innovators and people looking for good ideas. This is a venue where we can gather and highlight these innovators for good-hearted people to help each other. We hope to establish a community of start-ups to nurture creativity and innovation like Kawil Tours. For now, we have an online platform where organizations can raise funds. But we also hope to provide other offline activities such as sparkathons.”

The Spark Project gets a small amount to sustain their advocacy. For Paypal fees, the group gets 3% of the donation + 15 pesos. On top of that, they also charge a maintenance fee depending on the achievement of the campaign--if funding goal was reached or not. If funding goal was reached, 5% of funding will be deducted. If funding goal was not reached, 10% of funding is deducted. The Spark Project charges higher for funding goals that were not reached in order for the partner organizations to set realistic goals and strive to reach them.

According to Krz Lopez, “The projects still need to have a good marketing strategy. This online platform is just a convenient way for people to donate to them. They still need solid ground work!” This means that The Spark Project is not just for groups that simply want to raise money. The Spark Project partnership is for groups that are pro-actively advocating their work thru innovative programs and projects.

The Spark Project is founded by young innovative and creative minds: Noreen Marian Bautista, Krz Lopez, Luis Gaza, Paolo Agloro, RJ Aquino, Patch Dulay, and Ivan Joseph Corpuz.

The group says, “Through the power of social media and crowd-funding, we can now easily back projects and get awesome rewards in return. For project creators, there has never been a better time than now to go and spark that idea.”

If you need a boost with your startup project. If you think your project is creative and innovative… If you are dedicated on working on it. Partner with The Spark Project. Visit www.thesparkproject.com and understand crowd-funding. Follow them on twitter @sparkprojectHQ and Facebook to see the other ideas they have sparked.


Comments are welcome at [email protected] or private message through Facebook. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jesslorenzo for stories of good governance.

Jess Lorenzo is a Core Member of Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership. www.kayanatin.org @kayanatin on Twitter