Most Filipino wonder why the Philippines isn’t blessed with massive oil deposits? Filipinos just need to look at the neighboring oil rich country of Brunei to conclude that the Philippines is unlucky not to have large deposits of crude oil in its territory. Some consider fate to be cruel that geographically the Philippines is so close to having oil and can’t help but dream of a strong developed Philippine economy anchored on oil exports.
But is the Philippines really unlucky? What most people fail to see is that the Philippines has been blessed with its own riches, it may not be obvious but the country can also be considered very lucky. The Philippines is rich with environmental resources found both in land and in sea.
Nature has beautifully sculpted the Philippines. It is well known that the land topography of the Philippines has countless number of marvels. However the country’s underwater resources are not so well known to many as it cannot be easily seen.
(Dynamite Fishing has destroyed majority of our coral reefs causing fewer catch for fisherman who are going farther to the sea. Photo by: Dan Gideon Fernandez)
Most are not aware that the Philippines is at the center of the coral triangle, which considered the global center of marine biodiversity. The health of the world’s marine life is highly dependent upon the coral triangle region. It can even be considered that all life both in land and at sea depend critically on this region.
The Philippines is considered to be at the “center of the center” of marine biodiversity. This means that the Philippine marine resource is richer than most countries and could possibly become the pillar of the country’s economy.
(Being at the heart of Coral Triangle, earth’s center for marine biodiversity makes the Philippines richer than most countries with regards to marine resources. From: Google Maps)
Just like oil deposits, coral reefs also take millions of years to form. These coral reefs when taken care of and fished sustainably will be able provide economic opportunities for the country especially when coral reefs and fish stocks around the world have been declining. This is the reason why foreign poachers and fishermen continue to illegally cross Philippine boarders.
(Healthy coral Reefs takes million of years to form are being destroyed threathining fish stocks globally.)
Sadly the Philippines is destroying rather than taking advantage of a rich marine resource. The state of marine environment in the Philippines is no exception to human abuse; dynamite fishing, cyanide fishing, overfishing, coral poaching and other destructive activities continue to plague the Philippines.
It is estimated that fish stocks around the world would be zero in 50 years if no change is done.
(Dynamite Fishing has destroyed majority of our coral reefs causing fewer catch for fisherman who are going farther to the sea.)
(Cyanide Fishing is prevalent in the country.)
Good news is that the Philippine coral reefs system although badly damaged can still be restored unlike others. A healthy marine ecosystem will not only provide the country with a strong tourism sector but also food sustainability.
(Philippine marine resources, one of the richest in the world, can provide the country with food sustainability.)
To further put things in perspective, major oil producing countries can either be found in the barren deserts or snow covered lands. These countries don’t have coral reefs as rich as ours. Oil and water just don’t mix well. Such fact is proven by Philippine marine resources being destroyed by countless number of oil spill disasters. If the Philippines had oil the country probably wouldn’t have a rich marine resource.
(Oil spill in La Union, proof that the oceans and oil don’t mix well. Photo by: Colleen Curran)
Additionally, major oil producing countries are trying to boost other sectors of their economy specifically tourism to become more than oil producing economy. Dubai has shifted its year 2020 strategy target focusing on becoming the number one city visited by travelers by building theme parks, safaris and holiday homes built. Qatar has bid heavily to win the right to host 2022 FIFA World Cup in a plan to showcase what the country has to offer in travelers.
Unlike oil producing countries, the Philippines is not a desert or ice covered nation thus it doesn’t need to build any amazing structures to attract tourist as we are blessed with our own natural attractions.
The Philippines can be the number one eco-tourism location in the world as well as becoming a major exporter of marine sourced goods. It is only required that the Philippines act now and prevent its coral reefs from being destroyed beyond repair.
Who needs oil as a pillar of a strong economy? The Philippines is lucky after all.
(With declining fish stocks around the world, marine sourced goods can be the pillar of the Philippine economy. Photo by: Dan Gideon Fernandez)