The Mahagnao Volcano Natural Park Ecotourism Association (MVNPEA) is a community-based people’s organization composed of empowered women from Barangay Mahagnao in Burauen Leyte who work alongside men in an inclusive society and capitalizes on the natural beauty of their environment for their ecotourism livelihood.


Members of the Mahagnao Volcano Natural Park Ecotourism Association (MVNPEA) started converging for a common cause in 2011 when the DENR introduced the National Greening Program (NGP).

Hearing about the NGP, the housewives who were engaged in their daily and usual domestic works showed keen interest in the program and together with some men, started organizing the Mahagnao Rural Workers Development Association (MRWDA). Their goal as an organization was to be part of the government’s program that seeks to rehabilitate the country’s forests. The housewives took pride in the thought that while they are protecting the environment, they are also earning meager amount to augment their husband’s income.

And so, the MRWDA became a partner of the DENR in the reforestation program through seedling production and plantation establishment until 2018.

Their membership in the association also became their springboard in their service to the community. Raising seedlings and planting trees became their way of life. They then realized that while engaging in environmental works, they were also protecting their beautiful home which is nestled in one of the legislated protected areas in Eastern Visayas, the Mahagnao Volcano Natural Park (MVNP). They know that every seedling they raise will become a sturdy tree and will form part of the thick forest in the protected area. This in turn will be their legacy to the children and the future generations in their community.


In 2019, the Local Government Unit of Burauen started an ecotourism program. The residents of Mahagnao, including the members of MRWDA, were empowered to manage a community-based ecotourism program by organizing and capacitating them through a series of ecotourism training. This ecotourism program gave birth to the Mahagnao Volcano Natural Park Ecotourism Association (MVNPEA).

The organization eventually ventured into ecotourism. The members were capacitated as tour guides, dancers, cooks, and skilled designers of souvenir items for MVNP visitors. They started providing a tour package that include a welcome song and dance by selected MVNPEA women members, a welcome drink, tour guiding and interpretation, souvenir items, and food.

As part of their ecotourism activity, MVNPEA women tour guides take their visitors to the Mahagnao forest through the Tanguile trail and allow them to connect with nature through “Shinrin Yoku” or forest bathing. The tour guide interprets to guests whatever they see, feel, touch, hear and taste along their trek to the forest.

When asked about where they get their passion for what they do, Ms. Mryna Agustin, President of MVNPEA said that they just want to give MVNP visitors the best experience whenever they visit the protected area through their motherly accommodation.

Ang gusto lang po naming ay bigyan ng magandang experience ang aming mga bisita. Masaya na po kami dun,” (We just want to give the best experience for our visitors. That way, we are already happy) she says.


Displayed in the wall of the MVNPEA visitor center are statements of its vision, mission, environmental ethics and code of conduct for every visitor to see and read. The association envisions that their place become a prestigious ecotourism destination with a balanced ecology and sustainable livelihood for the community. Though the beautiful and naturally cool environment of the place they call home, they are able to earn a living. In return, they maintain it by continously raising seedlings and planting trees whenever necessary. It is their way of sustaining the rich environment that they have aside from promoting to their visitors the value of environmental conservation and protection.

The food that they offer to their visitors is also local products sourced from the environment they sustainably maintain.

The MVNPEA owns a farm where they plant vegetables and root crops for their menu. For snacks, they offer coconut water and camote roll. For lunch, they commonly offer fresh products from Mahagnao lake such as snails and tilapia, among others, and vegetables freshly harvested on their farm. They also share livelihood opportunities with other residents by engaging them in the harvesting of products and enjoining their involvement in other services such as the ecotourism package.


 A member recounts that whenever she comes home after a tiring tour package, her children would notice the dirt in her clothes and would be able to guess that they had visitors tour guided by her to the Tanguile trail. “Even at a young age, they get the idea of promoting their beautiful home through ecotourism in a sustainable environment,” she says.

Hindi na rin sila madalas magtanong kung saan ako, o kung bakit wala ako sa bahay kasi alam nila na dun ako sa center kasi may bisita,” (They do not often ask my whereabouts because they know that I am just in the visitor center because we have visitors to attend to). That way, I already introduce what ecotourism is all about and the need to have a healthy environment so that the visitors will continue to patronize our place.” she added.

Aside from the fact that their livelihood provides an additional income to the family, the lesson that she wants to impart to her children is the value of taking care of the environment as the only home that we have. And by living a good example to them through her membership in MVNPEA which advocates a sustainable environment through ecotourism, she knows that she is on the right track.


The members also recalled the challenges that they have encountered and continue to encounter in their journey as an association that capitalizes on the beauty of their environment for their livelihood. They said that they have already experienced visitors who to their mind were like trying to question their credibility and even authority for doing what they do. They also worry about their safety as well as that of the visitors, especially during the rainy season when the trek to the Tanguile trail becomes muddy and slippery. They are also faced with the reality that sometimes no visitors would come to them to avail of the tour package and that would mean no income for them. These are just a few of the challenges that they were able to resolve head-on because of their resilience to setbacks as empowered women. They know that problems are normal and part of life and as long as they do not violate others’ rights, they will continue with what they do for their children and the place they live in.