CEBU ECO-CENTRE, Inc. (CEC) today announced its plans to build Southeast Asia’s first eco-centre on Olango Island, Cebu, Philippines. CEC will be building a 50-room, 100-bed facility along with classrooms, a scuba diving center, electronic library, observation tower, restaurant-bar, mangrove walkways, spa & wellness center, first-aid clinic, and a dock to receive small craft from other islands. The Olango site is ideal because of its proximity to a bird sanctuary and two marine reserves.
A team of investors and experts has unveiled construction plans commencing in October2009 with a completion date of June 2010. CEC has been in discussions with various government, financial, educational and business institutions in the Philippines, Canada, and the U.S. to ensure its successful completion. “This goes a long way to achieving the wish of my father and property owner, Macaraig Canton, Jr., that we need to share this beautiful natural environment with others.” said Marc Canton, President & CEO of CEC.
CEC is designed to be a center of excellence for coastal environment ecosystems, marine biology and ornithology. Already, the venerable University of San Carlos of Cebu and the world renowned Scripps Institute of Oceanography of the University of California San Diego are considering multiple research projects around the island.
Guests will enjoy experiential activities such as planting coral on the reefs, planting trees and mangroves, viewing underwater scenery via underwater cameras linked to the surface, and for the more adventurous, reveling inside a shark cage and seeking unprecedented photo opportunities. Well-informed guides will help guests in marine ecosystem flora and fauna, as well as bird identification activities. For those interested in archeology, there will be expeditions led by Fred Umabong, Cebu’s expert scuba diver and guide, while an underwater ROV will be made available for search and mapping operations to support the environmental community.
A series featuring World War II underwater sites for National Geographic is being planned in conjunction with Dr. Phil Nuytten of Vancouver, Canada, the developer of the Newt Suit for deep diving. In keeping with CEC’s focus on environmental education, there will be demonstration tours on water conservation as well as waste management systems, designed by Dr. Troy Vassos, one of the world’s leading experts on the field. There will also be lectures on the nutritional benefits of indigenous flora in the house environment, geared for total wellness information.
CEC features a first-aid clinic for its guests and it will also provide free medical services to the local folk in the community. In line with its environmentally responsible stance, CEC will utilize solar and wind energy to supplement the existing electrical grid. It will use innovative freshwater generating systems as well as wastewater management.
CEC is expected to accommodate six to eight thousand tourists annually when it is fully operational. It is designed to have the usual comfort and safety offered in a European C Class hotel, and therefore, affordable for both local and foreign guests. CEC expects to hire 30 hospitality management graduates and another 30 to 50 workers. And, with the influx of thousands of environmentally-knowledgeable tourists to the island, secondary tourism enterprises will be greatly benefitted.
To achieve all of CEC’s plans, it has formed a formidable international team of experts. First and foremost is George Kirke, CEC Chief Financial Officer, a mergers & acquisitions expert and long time environmentalist and scuba diver, has been instrumental in developing the overall concept of the center as well as CEC’s financial plans. Theresa Lee, CEC General Manager, with 19 years experience in the hospitality industry, 12 years as a General Manager of a hotel in Vancouver, Canada, will direct the operational aspects of CEC, especially the hiring of key management personnel; Joy Martinez-Onozawa, internationally renowned Integrative Architect and Environmental Planner of 28 years, has designed an esthetically pleasing and environmentally-friendly complex; Dr. Troy Vassos, who with his 30 years of experience has served as a technical and regulatory advisor to various provincial, federal, and international agencies on water and wastewater issues, will develop water catchment and wastewater management systems for CEC; Chungsen Leung (CEC Advisor), President, UBS Buildings, Diving Instructor Emeritus, and part-owner of the Los Angeles International Airport Hilton, will build the typhoon resistant hotel blocks; Fred Umabong (CEC Advisor), expert scuba diver and seasoned guide, will head the identification of choice dive spots and island hopping activities; and finally, Marc Canton, CEC President & CEO with over 20 years in senior management roles, business development, operations and marketing for both public and private companies, will oversee the whole company.
“Our objective of conserving and supporting the environmental and cultural aspects of Olango, together with our focus on scientific excellence, education, adventure, and community participation, is something new in the field of ecotourism. This project will definitely contribute towards putting Cebu, Philippines on the map.” commented Marc Canton.