The Maremegmeg Beach Club managing director shares the challenge of keeping a sustainable, eco-friendly business afloat in the middle of COVID-19 pandemic
There’s been a sustained, collective cry for business owners and world leaders to address climate change, and the pandemic only amplified this call. Even without this every-increasing demand, Maremegmeg Beach Club managing director Diego Gabriel E. Alvarez believes that every establishment should have a mind for sustainable living and green practices.
Having grown up in the city that has been acknowledged as the cleanest and greenest city in the country, Alvarez has an innate sense of responsibility of taking care of the environment around him. When his family decided to open Maremegmeg Beach Club in 2019, sustainable living and green practice was already part of the Puerto Princesa resort’s foundation.
“We do everything we can to reduce waste. There is an ordinance in El Nido that bans single use plastic, but that’s not the reason why we have been implementing that,” Alvarez says, adding that they’ve been doing reduced waste practices before the ordinance came out. “We started out with something simple, when the resort wasn’t around yet and we only had the small shack as a bar, we refused to sell plastic bottled water.”
Maregmegmeg Beach Club is named after the coast where it’s located. The word itself means “malamig lamig” in Cuyunin, a local dialect in Palawan. The resort was a vision of Alvarez’s parents, Antonio and Melanie.
“When we acquired the property, the beach wasn’t as busy as it is today and especially right before the pandemic,” the 28-year-old shares. “We actually started with Maremegmeg Beach Bar first, which started out as a small shack with an iconic swing in the bar before it became what it is today. Basically what inspired us was the beauty of the area and El Nido itself.”
The aspiration to preserve El Nido’s natural, enchanting beauty is what drives them to be always conscious about their environment, Alvarez says, though that means a lot more effort and expenses for the company.
“We moved to eliminating single use plastic in other areas such as take outs, etc. In the resort nowadays even our toothbrush is not made of plastic, we use bamboo toothbrush that people actually really love,” he says. “Our soaps and shampoos are made organically, technically they are edible, by the Tao Philippines women’s association and we use reusable containers.”
Outside the vicinity of their resort, the Maremegmeg Beach Club is also active in supporting clean up drives and other environmental projects.
“We also do a lot of coastal and underwater cleanups around El Nido. I personally attend these and, if I can’t, I usually send my staff or at least make an effort in helping such as lending our boats or sponsoring materials for the cleanups,” Alvarez says. “We also have our own farm, although [it’s] still small, but this helps us in many ways.”
Like most businesses and industries, the beach club was badly affected by COVID-19. Limits on leisure travel left Maremegmeg closed for long periods of time. Despite the setbacks, Maremegmeg is continuously evolving, making sure that they are ready and equipped for the demands of the new normal.
“Honestly, it is quite difficult to keep this up in the new normal right now as being sustainable also incurs a lot of costs, but here at Maremegmeg Beach Club, we strive to keep our past efforts and carry it over to today’s world even if it means sacrificing profit,” Alvarez admits. “Especially today, wherein tourism isn’t exactly active and prices have been lowered, we still haven’t changed our ways and we still stick to our system even if it means that some things have to be sacrificed.”
Moving forward, Alvarez says that despite all the challenges, they are firm in following their suitability goals and standard as a company. Their efforts in reducing waste not only helps them, but El Nido as a whole, and wider adoption of their practices can only lead to positive outcomes.
“We try to advocate sustainability all throughout the municipality as much as we can and help out others if possible. We also try to get supplies that come from sustainable suppliers as much as possible,” he says. “We also try to spread information with our staff and the community through different channels in our efforts to raise awareness.”
The full story on Diego Alvarez is in Volume 2 of Lifestyle Asia 2021.