Conservationists Behind Masungi Georeserve Recognised In Global Travel Award
Sisters Billie and Ann Dumaliang awarded in Vanity Fair’s Changing Your Mind Travel Awards
Tucked away in the rainforests of Rizal, a province in the Philippines, a 450-hectare georeserve by the name of Masungi provides a way for visitors to admire the area’s natural beauty and encounter wild flora and fauna—all without damaging the environment.
Masungi is run by sisters Billie and Ann Dumaliang, who lead the protection of the award-winning georeserve as well as the sustainable tourism that runs through it.In the face of challenges from illegal loggers and quarries, the Dumaliang sisters continue to rewild the land, which was damaged and depleted due to quarrying and deforestation, and sharing their progress on social media. In doing so, the duo have managed to create a unique sanctuary for hundreds of native wildlife species.
This year, Billie and Ann were recognised by Vanity Fair as part of its Changing Your Mind Travel Awards, which works to highlight global changemakers in the tourism industry who are helping people live more appreciatively and conscientiously.
“When the editor first told us that we were nominated for the awards, it was a really challenging time for us; the pandemic was giving way to a lot of environmental violations on the ground. So this acknowledgement of our work from miles away was really appreciated. In the times when our team is challenged, it is really others who lift us up,” Billie says.
When the Masungi georeserve was forced to close during the height of the pandemic last year, a quarrying company took advantage of the situation to fence off 500 hectares of the reforestation area in the georeserve. “We started a campaign, messaging visitors and celebrities and launching petitions. It went to the top: the Secretary of the Environment came and pulled out the fence posts. The area continues to be threatened, but the movement to protect Masungi is growing,” Ann told Vanity Fair.
The sisters tell Gen.T they’re grateful for the acknowledgement of their hard work. “The last year has been tough for both the conservation and tourism sectors,” Ann says. “Before it became known as what it is today, the rewilding efforts at Masungi was first a product of three generations of love, courage and hard work. We’re grateful for this validation and hope that it inspires more [people] to act together with the long-term prosperity of our country and resources in mind.
“This award certainly reminds us that despite the challenges we face on the ground, the force for love and good will always be stronger.”