Everybody now talks about sustainable tourism, but for the ‘90s teen star Antoinette Taus, talking about it isn’t just enough.
In an exclusive interview with the singer-actress, she shared what makes her feel driven and why, after her showbiz hiatus, she decided to take a different route, which is far from what she’s used to, and perhaps comfortable with.
According to Antoinette, it’s not enough for you to just talk about environmental concerns, you really have to take part in initiatives that promote environmental protection or join in community driven conservation projects that will allow you to make solid efforts since it will enable you to get closer to people and help them be more informed about the ills of our environment and what they can do to help.
“You can also learn new things from that. It’s amazing to see the world in a different perspective. You don’t have to be an expert or a scientist. Everyone has the capacity to make a change,” she pointed out.
Antoinette, along with actors Rocco Nacino, Victor Basa, and some digital personalities, took part in a weeklong event in Boracay. Called Smart Love Boracay, it’s the telco’s effort to support sustainable tourism in partnership with the Department of Tourism, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Interior and Local Government, the Provincial Government of Aklan and the local government of Malay.
“The last time I was here, that’s before the closure, we did coastal cleanup that’s why seeing Boracay this beautiful and clean after the rehabilitation, it feels really inspiring especially to those people who really care about the environment,” she shared.
LaBoracay is out, Love Boracay is in
The Smart Love Boracay event ran from April 26 to May 1. Instead of the usual Labor Day parties that the island was known for, “Love Boracay” aims to celebrate the tourist destination’s reopening and to promote environmental awareness among visitors.
The week-long celebration featured a beach clean-up activity, as well as talks and activities on sustainable tourism.
Street parties, parades, and the week-long Boracay Food Fest also aimed to highlight the artistry and creativity of Boracay’s local artists and businesses.
“I’m glad that I was invited to be part of this meaningful event. Our group was launched here two years ago. And we’re here again celebrating our second year so everything seems so serendipitous,” she beamed.
Antoinette founded Cora and Planet Cora, two foundations she named after her mom.
“Cora is for our humanitarian efforts and Planet Cora is for our environmental activities. We work with the UN, the DENR, and local government units. We’re the partner of NatGeo Earth Day Run. And hopefully we could do more things like that,” Antoinette said.
Spearheading environmental activities was never her plan. In fact, Antoinette thought she would be singing, dancing, and acting all her life.
“I’m trying to focus on work close to my advocacy, things I really care about. After my mom died, I realized I can still do a lot. When you are doing something for so long, you’d think that it’s what you’re supposed to do for the rest of your life. But I’m in this phase in my life that I do things because it wasn’t forced. It’s like I found a new happiness and passion.”
Her foundation was inspired by social media posts. It started out with her friends. In the beginning, they would just post something on social media to get people’s attention on the efforts that they do and the activities they support.
“That’s why we also advocate good use of social media. I know it can be toxic but it really depends on the way you use it,” she said.
LTE network coverage in Boracay
Smart Love Boracay event also saw the use of social media in spreading the good news about the island. And it was high time for the tourists and residents of the newly rehabilitated tourist spot experience the improved connectivity on the island as PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) boosts and expands its network to support sustainable tourism.
The wireless connectivity expansion was launch during Smart Love Boracay festival. To date, Smart has already deployed Long Term Evolution technology to 83 percent of its Boracay sites. Of these LTE sites, 80 percent have been further upgraded to LTE-Advanced, which gives customers an even faster mobile data experience for better video viewing and mobile gaming, for example.
Smart is also set to expand its LTE coverage and capacity across the island to better serve beachfront hotels and restaurants in the Philippines’ premier tourist destination.
“Through our continuing network upgrade efforts across the country, we are empowering tourists, residents and local businesses alike by providing them with quality connectivity wherever they may be,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT and Smart senior vice president for Network Planning and Engineering.
“With our expanded networks, tourists can share the beauty of Boracay to the world, enjoy a better video streaming and mobile gaming experience, as well as access key online services like banking and e-commerce while on the island,” said Tamayo.
“Local entrepreneurs can also leverage social media to boost their respective businesses now that Boracay has been reopened to tourists,” Tamayo said, adding that with better connectivity, searching and booking restaurants, hotels and other activities online are just a tap away.
First in LTE
Boracay was the site of several technological firsts for Smart as well as the Philippines, including the firing up of LTE in 2012 and the deployment of LTE-A in 2016, in anticipation of the rise of bandwidth-heavy services such as video streaming and gaming.
Today, about 70 percent of Smart’s LTE sites across the country are already on LTE-A, including major towns and cities like Paoay in Ilocos Norte, Baguio in Benguet, San Fernando in Pampanga, Calamba in Laguna, Antipolo in Rizal, Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Naga in Camarines Sur, San Jose in Antique, Bacolod in Negros Occidental, Tagbilaran in Bohol, Lapu-Lapu in Cebu, Ormoc in Leyte, Dipolog in Zamboanga del Norte, Koronadal in South Cotabato and Davao City, to name a few.
As of end-2018, Smart has increased the number of LTE base stations nationwide by over 86 percent year-on-year to about 16,200, while the number of 3G base stations also increased by 17 percent to about 11,500. This massive deployment has enabled Smart to provide mobile broadband in at least 90 percent of the country’s cities and municipalities.
PLDT’s expansive fiber network, now at over 244,000 kilometers, also supports Smart’s mobile network by providing high-capacity links to cellular base stations.
PLDT and Smart are undertaking another massive capital expenditures program for 2019 by allocating up to P78.4 billion budget this year, P20 billion higher than the previous year, to push further the companies’ already significant network advantage.