June 18, 2010
I write to appeal to all to help save Boracay from further environmental degradation. Our family spent the long weekend in Boracay and it almost made me cry. My wife and I first visited Boracay as part of our honeymoon in 1986. It was paradise. The sand was so white it was blinding to the eyes, and so fine it was like talcum powder. The waters were crystal clear with nary a strand of algae. The natives, too, were genuinely friendly and generous. Today, you would not recognize it as the same island. What went wrong?
Once again, we (all of us) have succumbed to temptations of greed and avarice – the local leadership, the entrepreneurs, the workers, and yes even the tourists. The sand has turned into beige because all the cement and construction materials used in building beachfront establishments have mixed with the sand. Locals lament it is even darker underneath.
Algal bloom is uncontrollable, and along with algae came the spiny sea urchins that feed on them – one even gave my son and I a lasting and painful reminder of how nature is fighting back against untrammeled greed. I shook my head in disbelief when some locals rationalized the presence of algae – that it was the secret behind the island’s white sands. That’s not what I recall reading – that the white sands were formed over thousands of years from corals that were pounded by waves out at sea. Alas, we have even resorted to deceiving ourselves only to justify the continued pace of “development”.
This is not development. This is destruction. Development occurs when something of little or no value is enhanced and becomes more valuable. Development is Camarines Sur, where the young and dynamic Hon. Governor LRay Villafuerte transformed a barren piece of land in a forsaken province into the country’s hottest tourism destination with the construction of the CWC and Lagos del Rey. Now CAMSUR rocks. I am certain and hopeful the visionary Governor has learned the painful lessons of Boracay and will seek to preserve the beauty of Caramoan. Development is also the Manila Ocean Park, built on idle land behind the Quirino grandstand, which has been instrumental in increasing the influx of tourists – local and foreign – to Manila and its surrounding attractions. Even more inspiring is that the water used in the aquarium tanks of Manila Ocean Park comes from 500,000 liters of filthy Manila Bay water that is filtered and recycled every day!
Destruction is what has happened to Boracay, where a gift of beauty from nature – the very attraction that tourists would come to see – is spoiled and defiled out of greed.
What could have been done to achieve a balance between preserving the environment and attracting tourists? Perhaps we can borrow a leaf from the world-renowned Honorable Mayor Edward Hagedorn of Puerto Princesa in Palawan. The beautiful islands in Honda Bay have been preserved because no permanent structures were allowed to be built. Instead, they were all opened as daytime destinations in an island-hopping tour. That should have been the strategy for Boracay, and all the hotels and establishments should have been built on Caticlan. This would have saved Boracay from degradation while generating employment and livelihood opportunities on the mainland of Aklan province.
Boracay’s beauty has become its undoing – like a fair maiden ravaged by lustful men.
Business Mentors, Inc.
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