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Will Siargao follows Boracay’s disastrous environmental path?

By G. Racho and L. Real

Contributed photo

It’s a question concerned people and travelers have at the back of their heads. But we certainly hope not. Or we lose another gem of a paradise.

But certainly most people don’t think so because Siargao Island is geographically different from Boracay where it’s located facing the vast Pacific Ocean and its current is sufficiently”liberal” and “free-wheeling.” Though this layman’s theory need clarification from the experts.

Siargao today is tagged the new “darling” of beach island combers and outdoor enthusiasts who want an ultimate getaway. High-end resorts and rented residences have sprouted and night life is overwhelming.

Welcome to the new commercialized tourist destination where once it used to be an ordinary island with simple down to earth folks. Who then is taking charge of the island’s natural resources?

We submit to the idea that local government officials and Department of Environment and Natural resources (DENR) will not allow the same route and controversy that Boracay did this recent.

We hope the president would visit Siargao too and see how both islands differ-as of yet. At least in terms of no-nonsense and advance environmental management. If  he see’s and express positive, then Siargao would be way ahead to Boracay by a mile.

But for critical travelers it’s not only on environmental issues they are concerned about but the values and attitudes.

“They are influence with western outlook and think they’re some big shots,” observes one who gets turned off by young locals who flaunt their association with foreigners who are actually bums.

“Surfing is western bums outdoor sports.They do nothing but play the waves and drink. They are lazy people who escape work in their countries. And we have our government and locals embraced them. Shouldn’t we be choosy at least?” she pointed out.

To be fair not all surfers who come to Siargao are bums, some of them are disciplined, athletes in the making and educated hobbyists passing through and respectful and economy travelers.

The problem is the changing habits and perceptions of the locals to make it big-time real quick.

Some residents prefer to accept foreigners than domestic guests. This was experienced before by a small group from Cebu being turned down by the hosts obviously for the dollar element.

“I confronted the host to please act honorably with their so-called hospitality,” the leader of the group said.

Like Boracay, Siargao has become materialistic, tasteless with cheap exhibitionalism and glimpses of real islander’s behavior eroding. “Some children and teenagers are disrespectful and don’t have manners,” she further related.

If this is the case there is a need to strengthen educational institutions, the religious sector and civic groups to teach, promote and practice decency,good traditional values and humility.

One local resident asserts, however, that some migrant businessmen are those who initiated twisted values such as crass commerce. “That’s why almost everything here has become expensive and locals can hardly afford it.”

To a few Siargaonons who have the right vision, their island meant a lot to them.

“It should serve us first  and not lured by foreign dictates which are superficial and destroy our true identity.”

Editor’s note: The authors are Cebu City-based travelers who frequent islands in Southeast Asia since the 90’s.



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