Welcome to Banwa
While leisure travel has boomed in recent years, promotion and tourist traffic have focused primarily on a handful of islands like Boracay and Siargao thus limiting public awareness of the almost limitless beauty of the Philippines and its 7,641 islands. As any traveler who has ventured beyond the well-trodden path knows, the country possesses thousands of islands, each special in its own way, all awaiting discovery.
Mararison is one such island. It is the first of a number of island communities we propose to include in Banwa’s community development program within the framework of sustainable travel. We aim to build the island’s economic potential while shoring up its climate resilience. Mararison offers a novel kind of travel experience- authentic, community interaction. An opportunity to experience the island and its community. Perhaps even contribute to its growth and the welfare of its residents.
A few years back, in the wake of typhoon Haiyan and soon after the inauguration of its solar-power facility, Mararison opened its first homestays. With 24 x 7 power came conveniences tempting day trippers to stay overnight in homestays operated by the islanders themselves.
Mararison’s experience has brought to the fore the importance of sustainability as the core objective for development. The growth of tourism has brought with it a demand for services such as food, water and tours to the nearby islands. All of these we propose to provide within a framework of sustainable development, that will directly redound to the benefit of the islanders themselves.
Banwa aims to be a one-stop online destination for travellers searching for deep and fulfilling travel experiences away from usual tourist destinations. Come to Banwa to check on accommodation and activities on islands choosing the sustainable way to tap travel’s economic benefits.
Banwa will also feature initiatives that will support our partner islands pursuit of development with a sustainable core. For Mararison, for example, we will soon embark on a desalination project that will offer livelihood opportunities for women entrepreneurs and at the same time, conserve the island’s scarce freshwater resources.
We chose the name Banwa (Hiligaynon Bisaya for town or community), as it is envisioned to be the jump-off point for authentic, community-centered travel experiences. Travel to us is a two-way exchange between host and guest.
Banwa and its partners are committed to development but only through sustainable practices. The site proposes an alternative to Boracay and other examples of overdevelopment and overexploitation. Each traveler to Mararison will come away with the realization that his journey has left a positive imprint on the community and its eventual development.
Banwa hopes to pioneer a portfolio of “green” tourism sites. Prior to Banwa’s entry, there were no AirBNB postings for island homestays mainly because most of the islanders were unbanked and did not have registered businesses. Our partnership with RCBC will provide the bridge towards financial inclusiveness for Mararison’s over 200 households.
Our long-term objective is to develop Banwa as a vehicle for sustainable development and community interaction and thus the imperative to balance authenticity with standards of safety, hygiene and comfort.
In the case of Mararison, local homestay operators, boatmen and tour guides have banded together to ensure your enjoyment of the island and its charms.
Philosophy and Values
You’ve probably asked yourself: is tourism truly sustainable?
We all want to see the world but at the same time, are unsure about leaving a negative impact on our host communities or the environment. Banwa takes sustainable tourism beyond being mindful of one’s impact. With Banwa, travellers possess the opportunity to contribute to the improvement of the lives of their host communities.
We envision to contribute to the development of climate resilient communities that are characterized by a diversified economy, educated and well-informed community and enjoying food security and energy independence.
We propose that authentic off-grid places are even more beautiful than celebrated destinations; we develop alternative investment opportunities for like-minded travellers committed to the augmentation of family incomes in off-grid communities; we pledge to share with the world our stories of lives and places touched by sustainable development.