There is a saying in Chinese that goes like this: No businessmen are not cunning. Having heard of countless stories about evil business tricks that businessmen use to earn money, I totall bought that saying. However, things started to change when I got close contact with Jesse, the owner of Paseo Del Mar Dive Resort.
Living with nature
Walking into the resort, you find yourself surrounded by the towering coconut trees, among which several bamboo cottages stand. You can feel the sun shining through the filter of green leaves and watch the rhythmic movement of the shadow. To the other side of the resort, the vast sea with its different degrees of blue is there waiting for you to appreciate.
It is Paseo Del Mar Dive Resort, whose owner Jesse is a middle-aged man, always with a warm smile hanging on the face whenever you talk to him. He came back to Bohol from the States when his father passed away, leaving several properties to him. Inheriting these, Jesse decided to build up his own resorts. The Dive Resort is along the seaside while the Mountain Resort is secluded up on the hills among the forests (the Mountain Resort has already closed since the only two staff quitted).
“I don’t like fancy style, instead, a simplistic way of life.” While we were there, we often saw residents relaxing on the seaside balcony, enjoying the great views that nature brought them. When doing customer interviews, we received lots of positive responses referring to the location and its natural feeling. Far away from the touristy spots, this resort seems a perfect choice for those who want to embrace a tranquil and peaceful Filipino way of life.
Jesse also intends to do a second round of renovation which includes the installation of an eco-friendly green hut that feeds itself on the recycling of natural resources (sun, rainwater, etc.). We will try to help him calculate the cost and hopefully it will be finished when we come back next year.
Marine conservation and research
Jesse has long been keen on the conservation of marine environment. Part of the resort is dedicated to the volunteer programs of Balyena.org, a non-profit society that encourages the conservation of whales and dolphins in Philippines. Jesse provides free accommodation to Balyena’s volunteers, who thus get the opportunity to do field trips and research in the area. Once I took the tricycle from the resort, the driver asked me if I’m a Mariology researcher since many foreigners living in Paseo Del Mar are. It seems the resort has already won its fame in the neighborhood of being a haven for marine researchers.
Besides, hanging on the wall in the common room, are illustrations of all kinds of fish, both for the educational purpose and a glimpse into the diving experience that you may have in this area of the sea.
Another eye-catching feature of the common room is the display of hundreds of shells. Amazed by their beautiful shapes that have been shaped by nature for years, I examined each of them as individual art masterpiece. These were collected by the previous and the current owner of the diving shop located inside the resort. At first, our group thought it would be nice if we exhibited these shells in a gallery, as a way of showing the beauty of marine world and promoting diving. However, when we discussed it with Jesse, he strongly opposed it. For some marine conservationists like Jesse, the underwater shells are crucial for the formation of seabed. After years of decomposition, shells gradually broke down to smaller articles and thus formed the seabed and the beach. After hearing him out, I guess we shouldn’t take the beautiful beaches for granted. Bohol is famous for its white sandy beach and hopefully our offspring can still enjoy its beauty.
Share the business with community
Jesse is clever when facing the disadvantages of his business. Due to the location of the resort being relatively far away from the port and the main city, residents may need a lift when they come and leave. However, Jesse cannot handle this need with his busy schedule and shortage of staff. As a result, he contacted the local drivers and co-operated with them to share the business. A win-win result is thus achieved.
Inspired by this, our group come up with a plan for the resort to share business with the local enterprises. Local producers are invited to put their locally made products (such as calamay) in the resort which offers a platform for them to sell. At the meantime, the residents of the resort can have a taste of Filipino culture through trying these products or buying them as souvenirs.
It seems operating business doesn’t necessarily imply competition. Sometimes, you have to learn how to share and co-operate.