Interestingly, Jessica Noelle Wong thought of the pandemic as a metamorphosis – a chance to get into a cocoon and transform into something even better. It was an optimistic yet realistic perspective.

Jessica owns Donsol Eco Tour, Inc., a travel and tours company which specializes in all-in-one eco adventures in the Bicol Region.

Since 2019, Donsol Eco Tour has been at the forefront of developing tourism in the Bicol Region. Jessica considers her business as a Bicol Destination Expert due to the vast knowledge and experience they have on the area.

“Our team does not try to sell just a holiday or a trip; we factor in what our clients want by listening to their needs and interests. We understand the uniqueness of every individual, so we take pride in crafting customized services for each client,” Jessica added.

Originally, Jessica’s company is focused only on Legazpi, Donsol, and Ticao Island. Along the way, as they grew, Donsol Eco Tour expanded its area of development to other places in the Bicol region and expanded to promoting the region’s nature, history, and culture.

Most of its bookings are from international tourists. Understandably, the effects of the pandemic to the business have been too difficult to cope with.

“The pandemic has been painful — financially painful more than anything else. But I guess any change is painful and how we get out of this is what determines who we will become. The pandemic has allowed us to dream further. It has allowed us to be more creative. It has allowed us to determine what is important to us both in our business and personal lives. It gave us a chance to dream, be creative, and cling onto the more important matters,” Jessica further shared.

Jessica’s business was closed since June 2020. She had to lay off six out of eight employees. She originally wanted to keep everyone but she knew it would not be a sustainable choice. Instead, she helped those she laid off by referring them to other companies, helping them get new jobs, or some she helped put up their own small businesses.

Jessica was offered an opportunity to apply to the CARES for TRAVEL Program through the DOT. In her metamorphosis, she thought of using her loan proceeds in restructuring her business by merging with other tourism-related businesses in Bicol which she believed would streamline their overall operations. She is also in the process of restructuring her business internally by preparing brochures, websites, and other materials they will need as soon as the tourism industry restarts.

“It is fine to get sad and angry for a while. The realization is part of the process. But I did not allow myself to be in that state for too long. Instead, I got up. I believe that the human mind is a powerful and amazing thing. Anything you conceive in it, anything you can imagine and dream can be done. I have a brilliant and dedicated team. Amidst the challenges, we continue to plan, work, and dream. I believe in this great team I have,” Jessica concluded.