Through travelling the Philippines, you’ll conclude that along with development come the negative effects of pollution, destruction of natural landscape, loss of animal habitat, greater social divide, and displacement of indigenous people.However such problems also exist in areas where development is still absent.
“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”- M.Gandhi
In the Philippines, the footprint of man can be found by looking at the destruction he has left behind.This is the painful truth you will learn to believe in, the longer your stay in the Philippines.
That’s until you decide to travel to Puerto Galera.
I, for my case, refused any idea of travelling to Puerto Galera because it was one of most popular tourist spots in the Philippines. I believed that there was nothing worth seeing and was just bound to get disappointed if I were to see the destruction caused by man.
It wasn’t until I got invited to attend the International Coastal Clean-up (ICC) that I entertained the idea of finally going to Puerto Galera.
(International Coastal Clean-Up Promotion)
Participating in the International Coastal Clean-up is the perfect reason to go. You’ll definitely be going to Puerto Galera believing that it is damaged and it’s in need of repair. How you would love it that Puerto Galera proves you wrong.
You will be amazed on the reality that Puerto Galera can be considered a model for all travel locations seeking development.
Joining the coastline trash picking activity you will be able to get together with of Puerto Galera’s public elementary and high school students.
(With school kids coastal garbage clean up)
I suggest you grab the opportunity to talk with the students because these kids will definitely surprise you with their extensive knowledge of ecological preservation, even at a young age. You will hear straight from their mouth that the schools takes extra effort in educating them early about the reasons why we must all take care of the environment.
“Kung hindi po namin aalagaan ang tanging kayamanan namin, kami rin po ang kawawa sa huli. Wala na pong bisita na pupunta dito, maraming mawawalan ng trabaho, tapos yung huling isda mawawala rin po.” [If we don’t take care of the only wealth we have, we are the only ones who stand to lose at the end. Visitors won’t come here anymore and many would lose their jobs as a result. Also we would experience declining fish catches.]
So what’s the big deal about this? Other schools teach about the environment and its importance as well.
Don’t get me wrong, surely many of us are are educated about such a basic topic, it isn’t an uncommon subject.
What is different in Puerto Galera is people truly live by the concepts of environmentalism. In other words the locals of Puerto Galera walk the talk. Truly, you will feel that these kids mean every word they say.
(School kids letting go of their weekend to save the environment)
Arriving at the coastline you’ll realize that there is not much trash to pick-up, except for rare small litters. This is absolutely surprising because the area where you’ll be in, is not a tourist location but a marginalized residential area. Normally areas like these in the Philippines would be heavily polluted with garbage, but in Puerto Galera’s case it’s not.
No plastic bags and bottles can be found floating in the water. How rare is that, especially in a human settlement near a body of water?
There is no stopping these kids from amazing you even further.
When tasked to educate kids about the important roles some marine species play in the ecosystem, you will find yourself on the opposite side of the fence with the kids educating you instead.
“Ang bakawan po ay importante dahil nagsisilbi po itong tirahan ng mga baby fishes.” [Mangroves are important because they serve as habitat for baby fishes].
I myself found this particularly amazing, because at the same age, I didn’t know what purpose mangroves and sea grass play in ecological balance.
(Environmental education activities with local school kids)
The whole community is in it.
This is one of the rare places in the Philippines where you’ll find a declared marine sanctuary that is intact.
A REAL MARINE SANCTUARY, where the corals are preserved and taken care of, to ensure a sustainable fishing supply for the population.
(Puerto Galera’s marine sanctuary)
Tour boatmen see to it that nothing is damaged from the tourism activities. Always minding where they drop their anchors, knowing that even the smallest damage can lead to the death of a big coral.
These boatmen will sincerely tell you to enjoy, but wouldn’t hold back in obligating you not to hit any corals, right before any part of you dips in the water. They take the extra effort because it is common knowledge within the community of Puerto Galera that corals can only grow up to a maximum of 0.5cm- 2 cm per year.
(Young Puerto Galera boatman)
Puerto Galera’s tourism industry recognizes its critical role in social development.
Unlike other tourism areas which clearly alienate people from participating, Puerto Galera tries its best to ensure that everyone is able to reap the benefits of the booming tourism industry.
It appears that everyone is given an equal chance to participate as evidenced by this billboard you will see:
(Regulations to ensure fairness in Puerto Galera’s tourism industry)
Even a big resort like Coco Beach Resort makes sure they contribute to social development.
First, the resort recognizes that the family is the most basic unit in our society, therefore the most critical in social development.
The the resort proves this by employing a whole family to be in charge of taking care of individual rooms. As a guest, you’ll just have to pull a string in the balcony of your room which will consequently ring a bell in the adjacent family’s house.
(Coco Beach employment sponsored family)
Quite unique ei?
My guess is the system was employed in order to not to displace any residents as a result of the resort being built at the same residential area (I have to confirm this with the resort). Clever idea, rather than alienating the original residents, the resort encouraged them to participate.
Second, by sponsoring the event by providing massively discounted rates to ICC participants. (THANK YOU VERY MUCH!).
You will see that your Puerto Galera experience will definitely be an eye opener. Visit Puerto Galera so that the truth that we were all forced to believe in about the Philippines may be disproven.
Make the statement “DEVELOPMENT SHOULD NOT LEAD TO DESTRUCTION” become the truth.
Visit in the hope Puerto Galera stays like this forever. Anything different would just be devastating for both mother nature and us.
[You and I must guard the future, we must go against illegal and destructive fishing. Verde Island Passage: Let’s protect and be proud of it so that the next generation would inherit it.]
(Nicco Lampa visited Puerto Galera, Philippines on September 15, 2012 until September 16, 2012)