On 15 September, the day after I met them in Tagbilaran on the Philippine island of Bohol, Bill and Aida Granert of the Soil and Water Conservation Foundation were to be present at the official handing over of their San Isidro project to the local community. A few days earlier, on 11 September, Pondong Batangan, a community foundation established three years ago under the leadership of the archbishop, held a meeting to invite local businesses to join with the 300,000 people already contributing to the fund. Although I spent the majority of my days in the Philippines visiting organizations in Manila, it seems right to start this ‘travelogue’ outside the capital.
In fact, I started out intending to look just at how Philippine organizations are raising funds within the country to distribute to other NGOs and people’s organizations. But a few things happened to broaden that agenda. One was my visit to the Philippine Foundation for the Environment (FPE), where resource mobilization officer Jerome Montemayor offered to arrange a trip to Bohol that would combine sightseeing with community visits. It turned out that FPE, whose funds derive from a debt swap completed in 1993, is now about to spin off a separate organization offering ‘alternative tourism’ to raise money for FPE. I was to be their guinea pig.