Elders trained as tour guides in Baguio

BAGUIO CITY — At least 35 senior citizens have started to train with the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the city government to serve as professional tour guides in the city.

“We are conducting part two of the seven-days training seminar. They will have their mock tour guiding where they will be assessed which will be the basis of their certificate of completion. They will then be eligible to be accredited by the DOT,” said Jovita Ganongan, officer-in-charge of DOT in the Cordillera Administrative Region.

“We want to be inclusive as possible. That is what is in the tourism development plan,” Ganongan said about enjoining the elders in the tourism industry.

She said 35 more elders will be provided training, as the DOT and the city tourism office would look into how they can be fully mobilized.

“They are actually volunteering already for the city activities,” she said.

The concept of senior citizens as tour guides is not new as several countries have adopted them.

“The government have them because the elders still want to be productive and they have some information to inculcate to others,” she said.

Stories about Baguio

Aloysius Mapalo, city tourism officer of Baguio, said having senior citizens for a tour guide would provide a different experience for tourists because of their attachment to the place.

“They have personal affinity to the place, they are part of the history of Baguio. They have their stories to tell, stories which are unknown to others, stories na untold aside from providing them the information about the formal history of Baguio,” Mapalo said.

Ganongan said aside from their personal stories about the different destinations in Baguio, the elders can also help in the advocacy for responsible tourism by reminding tourists not keep their wastes in their bags.

“Our elders have moral ascendancy. They can include din values- how to protect the environment. They can instill responsible tourism,” she said.

The elders are trained for 10 days on history and culture, practical guiding techniques and nature interpretation, and mock tour.

“That is why we brought them to the forest bathing venue at Camp John Hay so that aside from wellness experiencing the trail, they can also be briefed about the endemic plants and other living things found in the area, which will make the tour more interesting to the visitors,” Ganongan said. Liza Agoot / PNA – northboundasia.com