IT is not every day that you get to meet a man whose convictions forced him to go against the government.

But rebel returnee Carlito “Carling” Pautan, 36, of Lumanoy, Cambangkaya, Catmon, Cebu was that type of man, which he does not deny but whose past he would rather not dwell on. Because for him, the present and the future is what matters today.

His passion for change, for a better place for all, has not wavered, though, so that he is still regularly trudging the same mountain he used to roam around when he was in the revolutionary movement, but for a different purpose.

The several training-workshops Carling underwent helped shape his consciousness on ecotourism and its potential in improving their lives in Catmon, Cebu.

Sa una, usa mi ka ginukod sa gobiyerno pinaagi sa pagserbisyo namo sa walhon nga grupo, sa NPA. Sa pag-abot sa panahon nga naka-attend ko og mga seminar sa ecotourism, dunay dakong kausaban ilabi na sa akong kaugalingon, sa ubang mga tawo, nga akong gi-share sa ilaha kong unsay akong mga nakat-onan mahitungod sa ecotourism,” he said. (I used to be being hunted by the government because I was serving the leftist movement with the NPA. When I joined seminars on ecotourism, I changed as well as the people with whom I shared my knowledge about ecotourism.)

An active citizen who is doing his share in protecting one of the last remaining forests in Cebu, Carling now regularly goes up the mountain, not to again wage war against the government but as a local guide of tourists who want to go trekking up Mt. Kapayas.

Among the training-workshops Carling took to prepare himself in becoming an able guide was the basic mountaineering course offered by the Cebu Provincial Government in 2018.

Among nabatyagan nga ang ecotourism sa ato sa Cebu dunay ikahatag sa mga tawo nga kaayohan….  Dako og ikatabang ang ecotourism ug ang among gihunahuna nga mapalambo ang Mt. Kapayas,” he said on his passion. (We felt that ecotourism in Cebu could bring something good for the people. Ecotourism is a big help on the kind of development we think is appropriate for Mt. Kapayas.)

He and a few others from Catmon were taught how to plan and manage an ecotourism destination like Mt. Kapayas, which is regularly visited by mountaineering enthusiasts, through trainings on terrestrial impact monitoring; guiding and interpretation; and on basic mountaineering.

His learning made him believe that his village should benefit from ecotourism but should limit the number of visitors to lessen the environmental impact. This is a particular lesson he came to embrace after completing a 16-day ecotourism training with the Provincial Government together with 500 other eco-warriors.

He admits joining the training-workshops required that he make sacrifices, like not working and earning for his family, but ultimately it was worth it since grateful guests also give him monetary rewards as their guide accredited by the local government of Catmon.

Akong i-share sa akong mga kasilinganan, sa akong katagi-barangay, nga atong ipreserba ang atong kalikopan para sa mga bisita, nga makapaengganyo kanila labi na sa among Mt. Kapayas nga historical nga dapit,” he said. (I shared what I learned with my neighbors and fellow barangay residents that we should preserve our environment for the guests, for them to be interested in Mt. Kapayas, which is a historical place.)

Not all are as enlightened as he is, however, as there are still those who engage in charcoal making and illegal cutting of trees, which negatively impact on Mt. Kapayas as an ecotourism destination.

As guide, Carling also briefs his guests on the importance of preserving the environment, on taking care that they don’t damage the mountain as much as possible.

Carling concedes, though, that they could not just simple bar people from doing so because they do not have alternative means of livelihood so they could take care of the needs of their families.

He wished that the government, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, also addresses this to help him and a few others convince neighbors to adopt sustainable and environmentally sound practices.

He assured, though, that even if many issues and concerns still hounds Mt. Kapayas as an ecotourism destination, he and others in his farming community in Cambangkaya believe in the cause to have ecotourism as the backbone of their fight to improve their lot in life.

For him, the struggle, although a different one, continues. #

Carling (3rd from right) proudly shows off his certificate after completing one of the training-workshops offered by the Cebu Provincial Government through the Cebu Provincial Tourism Office.