“Tourism’s main draw and attraction, especially in the Philippines, are its natural resources,” says Jonathan Jay Aldeguer, who in 1992 founded souvenir shop Islands Souvenirs (IS). He continues: “In the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Philippines has at least three destinations making the Top 10. And since tourism is one of the last few industries still thriving, it makes perfect sense to take care of our jewels.”
It is this belief that led IS to diversify through the establishment of Islands Banca Cruises Corp. (IBCC).
The Philippines has become a tourist destination in the Asian region, with select popular activities to boast – in the Province of Cebu, for example, these include island hopping, water-based activities like snorkeling, diving and fish feeding. “However, it has been the frustration of the industry that packages (offering these services) have not been professionalized, so that existing services remain substandard. Considering that Cebu is a premiere destination and needs first-rate activities, we felt there was an opportunity to improve on an existing thriving industry,” Aldeguer says. “IBCC aims to raise the ante, and make it truly world-class.”
IBCC’s various services – upon privately hiring a Bangka (dinghy) include: sunset cruises, lechon (roast pig) or barbecue picnics on board the Bangka or on a sandbar, and theme parties or a candle-lit dinner for two. Other possibilities include snorkeling, scuba diving, sea kayaking, dolphin watching, and fish feeding.
IBCC boasts of having bangkas that are not ordinary boats. “Our bangkas are furnished with an iPad dock, Wi-Fi Internet access, and comfortable beanbags line our estra wide sunbathing decks. One of the highlights on an IBCC Bangka is the provision for clean and decent toilets, a feature which we know has always been taken for granted. Nice, thoughtful touches such as fresh towels, a welcome drink, cold beverages and snacks are available on board and offered to you by a professional crew,” Aldeguer says.
IBCC is based in Punta Engano, Mactan, in between Shangri-la and the Hilton.
For Aldeguer, IBCC is in this not just as a business move. “Since going green has been part of our culture, we are mindful in many of our corporate ways,” he says. “For our island hopping tours, for example, to try to promote the fish sanctuaries to (help the communities there earn more), but we are also mindful not too overcrowd certain destinations since too much human presence and intervention can upset the ecological balance of these places. We also educate our customers about proper interaction with the fish and corals. In fact, for children, we are in the process of developing a booklet that focuses on how to help preserve marine sanctuaries.”
IBCC’s mother company, IS, is of course an active supporter of the Olango Bird Sanctuary, considered as one of the country’s best bird-watching destinations; as well as closely works with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the promotion of preservation efforts in the province’s marine sanctuaries.
“Since we are deeply entrenched in the tourism industry, we try to do our fair share,” Aldeguer ends.
For more information, visit islandsbanca.com.