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Balesin is the first and only PHL island awarded by UNWTO for innovative tourism and sustainability

It's only a 20-minute plane ride from Manila, but Balesin Island will take you all over the world.

Located east of Mauban, Quezon, the 500-hectare exclusive island doesn't just boast of pristine white sands and clear waters.

Nestled amid its flora and fauna are villages inspired by different destinations around the world: Balesin, first of all, Bali in Indonesia, Mykonos in Greece, Costa del Sol in Spain, Toscana in Italy, St. Tropez in France, and Phuket in Thailand.

The members-only resort recently nabbed the second-place award in the 14th United Nations World Tourism Organization Awards for Innovation and Excellence in Tourism this year — the first in the history of the Philippines.

Balesin Island Club, developed by Alphaland, is friendly to both the environment and the community living there as well.

Joshua Torres, Director of Sustainability Programs of Alphaland, said that they have adapted a "Three Pillar Innovation": people, planet, and profit.

"We have shifted from the mindset of solely prioritizing profit to integrating the factors of people and planet into our equation. We did so by redefining our value chain to ensure that we do not compromise being socially and environmentally responsible while maximizing profit," he said.

A product of this mindset is the island-wide rain harvesting system that reduces their freshwater consumption due to water recycling.

Even better is that they subsidize the recycled water to the locals in Barangay Balesin, allowing them access to water that is 91% cheaper than the city price.

The resort also uses electric golf carts to go around the island to reduce its carbon footprints, and grow their own fruits, vegetables, herbs in farms. These operations have opened job opportunities for the residents of Balesin.

"We want to empower the community...when we give employment to the local barangay, and other Filipinos, we teach them to be the next leaders," he said.

— LA, GMA News