After only two months in business, an IT-driven community center in Puggo is having a big impact. The Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement and the Last Mile Initiative–Philippines established the center to attract ecotourists to the Ifugao Rice Terraces, one of the engineering marvels of the ancient world.
Supported by USAID, LMIP is run under a project managed by Nathan Associates: Economic Modernization through Efficient Reform and Governance Enhancement (EMERGE). SITMO is an organization dedicated to preserving the terraces.
LMIP designed a three-month course in website development that culminated in SITMO and the local government unit of Kiangan creating a community website. In just two months, Internet marketing through the site attracted more than 100 additional tourists to two local festivals. During the festivals, tourists plant or harvest rice on the terraces and enjoy unique cultural events staged by local groups. This additional tourism generated more than PhP200,000 in gross earnings from visitor fees alone. In addition, the famed Banaue Hotel has approached center managers about creating a website for the hotel. And center staff are fielding numerous requests to train people in neighboring towns in setting up similar facilities.
To ensure the center’s sustainability, LMIP provided training in business development and management, computer troubleshooting, trainers’ training on computer literacy, and graphic design. Kiangan Mayor Albert Indunan is very pleased to share photos of his community’s “living cultural heritage” on the center’s website. SITMO President and former Ifugao Governor Teddy Baguilat adds that his community is “harnessing the power of ICT for the preservation and promotion of our culture.”
Other partners for center development—Microsoft, Intel, and The Center for Art and New Ventures and Sustainable Development (CANVAS)—provided computer equipment, software, broadband connectivity via VSAT, and training in specific applications.