Promoting, saving the great outdoors
Filipino-Chinese entrepreneur Jimmy Thai has many loves, and among them are the outdoors in general and the Philippines in particular.
Thai often tells his friends, family and employees in the different family-owned companies that he has been around the world, but the Philippines still offers the best choices, especially for those who want to explore the many splendors of the great outdoors.
There is just so much to do here, Thai tells the Inquirer, from diving to kayaking to mountain climbing. It troubles him that many Filipinos are unaware of the natural treasures they have right in their own backyard.
Equally disconcerting for the Primer Group chief executive is the seeming lack of concerted protection for the country’s natural treasures.
Thai felt that because his group operates Recreational Outdoor Exchange, a growing chain of retail shops dedicated to the outdoors that carry such brands as The North Face, Columbia Sportswear, Sanuk, Quicksilver and Giant bikes, it was but logical for the company to spearhead a program that will allow it to share its passion for sustaining and promoting the great outdoors and contribute to the conservation of these natural wonders.
The centerpiece of the group’s advocacy programs is the Center for Outdoor Recreation and Expedition (CORE), which has three main thrusts: athlete/expedition management; environmental conservation and tourism and promotion development done in cooperation with athletes, scientists, artists, writers, non-government organizations and government agencies.
Under the athlete management program, the Primer Group through CORE housed in ROX manages a roster of athletes such as sports climbers, endurance runners and mountaineers who can serve as role models and inspirational figures to get more Filipinos to embrace a more active, healthy lifestyle that embraces the outdoors.
ROX, which is the largest outdoor sports and recreation superstore in Southeast Asia, believes that it is already making significant headway in turning more Filipinos into outdoor sports enthusiasts.
CORE also supports athletes and scientists who embark on extraordinary pursuits in the name of environmental conservation and Filipino pride. Feathers in its cap include the waiving of the flag on top of Mt. Everest by the CORE-supported mountain climbing team led by Romy Garduce, and also the discovery of a new bird species on Babuyan Island.
CORE is a dedicated secretariat that works with explorers and scientists, and is involved in sourcing of funds to logistics management and execution of a long-term expedition program.
“CORE believes that supporting scientists in the field is crucial in leading us to a better understanding of our environment, thus making conservation efforts more efficient. We are in a race against time to save what’s left and while we lose hectares of biodiversity every day, we are on a mission to find and protect them,” says ROX Assistant Vice President Ruby Arne S. Palma.
CORE contributes to environmental conservation, meanwhile, through educational programs that include the publication of books, such as Birds of the Philippines and Kayak Philippines and free public talks at the flagship ROX branch at Bonifacio High Street, Taguig City on a number of topics that deal with nature and environmental conservation.
The latest addition is the Outdoor Environment Education program.
“The program aims to share outdoor knowledge and education to the public through esteemed leaders and educators. CORE will provide sponsored nature trips and lectures with industry experts as well as visual aids to make classroom lectures more enjoyable and informative for the students,” Palma says, “In this light, CORE hopes that through this effort, teachers will come up with feasible lesson plans that are going to enhance their students’ knowledge on the environment and the outdoors.”
CORE also functions as a convening body that hopes to bring together different institutions and agencies involved in the promotion of adventure tourism, community development and environmental awareness, which is part of its thrust to promote tourism in the Philippines.
Through these programs, Palma says the Primer Group wants to make every Filipino know just how much more fun it really is in the Philippines.
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