By RUDY D. LIPORADA
After a brief recent sojourn in Changi in Singapore, Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, and Bangkok in Thailand, my feeling of envy on how tourist spots in the Philippines compare was aggravated upon reading the news about Boracay government officials being under fire for neglect of standards that should maintain the star stature of the popular tourist destination. Moreover, it appears that the threat of President Rodrigo Duterte to bombard the existing he deems illegal structures is to give way for the erection of two casinos with his blessings.
While the neighbors of the Philippines are constantly evolving and developing their tourist environs, maintaining and improving their existing ones, and attracting hordes of tourists every single day, Boracay government officials are being castigated for the onslaught on the eco-systems of the tourist attraction. The government went as far as closing existing structures.
Boracay as a tourist attraction is not alone in the malady of deteriorating status. Baguio City, could no longer be tagged as the Simla of the Philippines with the losing of its character of having a pine scent all over the city or being a cloud kissed city nestled amidst mountains. Its skyline is gone with its towering humongous structures causing decade old trees to be uprooted. Traffic is beyond terrible in its being congested. The city government appears to have let the influx of immigrants prevail on unplanned development that has blanketed mountains, which were once green, with structures that are not only eyesores but threaten to explode further beyond the peripheries of the city that was.
Then there is the vanishing beachfront of Bauang, La Union. Where once one can stroll on the beach from the southern most tip of Bauang up to the fringes of San Fernando La Union, this is no longer possible with structures that has crept and closed beach spreads which were supposed to belong to public domain. More beach fronts all over the Islands are also vanishing with foreign excavations due to sand mining of ore as raw materials for technological advances – not to the benefit of those residents close to the beach – and with the blessings of local government officials who appear to have allowed such structures and excavations.
What about the Ifugao Rice Terraces. Because most of the owners of the payyews sons and daughters have become professionals, they no longer want to work the fields. This led to the deterioration of the so-called wonder of the world. Cannot the government step in to subsidize the maintenance of the retaining stone walls to keep them from eroding?
And the skyline backdrop of where Jose Rizal’s statue stands in Luneta Park? Whoever allowed that building to steal the background to water down the importance of the so-called national hero has no sense of history nor have an iota of patriotism that Senator Pacquaio is asking to teach students. The whole Luneta Park itself has deteriorated. The once grassy grounds have become like feasted on by goat or cows. The grounds have become dusty unworthy of becoming picnic grounds or resting places for the poorer class.
Of course, we have places like Coron in Palawan, the Chocolate Hills, thriving beach fronts in Zambales and Ilocos coast lines, etc. Nonetheless, these should be additions to existing tourist spots that should not only be maintained but enhanced. It’s a pity that they are not because of local and national government officials allow them to deteriorate due to lack of preservation sense, historical ignorance, or mere blindness due to apparent bribery blinkers.
This all the more become so pathetic when compared to, I reiterate, other Asian countries that have vastly improved their cultural and historical preservations and innovations in the decades. The last time I was in Singapore, for example, was over thirty years ago. Going back last February, I was amazed at newly constructed facades, gardens, museums, and others they have over just three decades. And they are constructing more and planning more.
True, we have festivals and festivals and more festivals. These are annual events in cities and towns which attract tourists every year to the localities for a duration of time. What we need, however, are places – festive, historic, restive, cultural – that are available daily to the locals and to visitors.
Bombarding places like Boracay that was once a stalwart tourist venue is not a solution or should be now the standard. Of course, the deterioration did not start with President Rodrigo Duterte. He is not, however, helping at all. Of course, this not one thing he promised in his election campaign. So, here, he is not breaking any promise. Of course, when you make it tangent to Regina Lopez’s crusade on environmental protection and enhancement, we could append a fault on the Digong. # nordis.net