By Justino Red and Lee Flores
Sorry if we sound “killjoy” but we are proud as any citizens this side of Mindanao when we heard Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte province was named the best island in Asia by an international travel magazine.
But we are apprehensive like a few critical others when tourists of all kinds and persuasions come and descend and tourism stakeholders welcome them with open arms and legs. It remains a secret the highest concentration of illegal drugs and sex trade is in this once pristine island because government authorities, both local and national wash their hands and see’s no evil, hear no evil and whatever else.
They arrogantly think it’s part of the business and the dirty tricks are just small and negligible game to deal with. Certainly, for all of them, “shabu” and prostitution are irrelevant and unimportant matters to worry about. Ask any tourism officials and underlings and you get the same, predictable alibis.
We should not be surprised when Siargao becomes another cesspool (by you know who) because of greed and desperation to lure million of tourists all at the same time to make lots and lots of money.
Cultural belief and moral values and habitat conservation can go hang. Most times, and this is not reported, it’s the people in power and positions cornering beach properties are the very first environment law breakers.
Also concerned islanders and migrants turned residents resort to garbage collection but no extensive program and vision. How very simplistic. But the immediate misfortune is the soaring prices of prime commodities hardly afforded by the locals particularly the poorest.
Thanks but no thanks to foreign tourists who supposedly stimulate the economy. The marginalized sector today do not get a decent and respectable meals and nobody, not the government and biased ,one-sided national media even care.
We only read and see how prestigious the island has become. The movers and shakers in the tourism industry must be celebrating with their million-dollar smiles and overfilled pockets. Their only concern and twisted priority is the satisfaction and good time of devil-may-care surfers and drug addicts bringing prostitutes from Manila and Cebu.
Need we say more? Welcome to the most desirable island-paradise of Asia-Pacific!