Thousands of jobs will be impacted by the recently-announced closure of popular island resort Boracay, shriek a bevy of “activists”. But, really, perhaps one should pause first to consider whether the man-made impact in the form of the closure order approved by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte may, in fact, be a lot more preferrable to what is likely to be the more far-reaching impact of a closure order that could someday be issued by Mother Nature herself.
Consider what happened to Tacloban City when typhoon Haiyan (a.k.a. Yolanda) struck in 2013. It impacting hundreds of thousands of Filipinos and destroyed countless more sources of livelihood. It also exposed the Philippines for the sad helpless little nation that it is — pathetically devoid of any capability to rescue its own people and hopelessly reliant on foreign help to standup even the most basic of relief measures.
At the time, the shores of Tacloban City were already a festering cesspool of squatter colonies consisting of rickety shacks piled on top of each other. In most normal countries, no official overeeing public safety and health worth her salt would have allowed such a situation to get past even just ten percent of the waiting disaster level Tacloban had come to before Haiyan struck. And yet there it was — a teeming cesspool just waiting for a disaster to sort it all out.
Boracay itself has long known to be an environmental disaster waiting to happen. As early as the late 1990s, stories of leaky sceptic tanks possibly accounting for those tell-tale streaks of bright-green algae that would mar the clear waters of the beach every now and then were already making the rounds. Towards the mid-2000s, long-time Boracay holiday visitors and even locals had began lamenting the onslaught of big corporate developers and how these were shunting Boracay’s evolution as a holiday destination down an all-too-familiar trajectory.
There is a saying. If we don’t clean up our act, Mother Nature will do it for us.
Duterte’s order to close Boracay island for six months may be drastic and, some say, inconsiderate. But think of the alternative. Indeed, it is interesting that many of the “activists” waxing outrage over the “plight” of Boracay’s wage earners and businesses impacted by the closure are the very same ones that screech about big corporate types erecting skyscrapers that ruin the view of the “national hero” in Luneta and big box retailers chopping down beloved pine trees in Baguio City. Suffice to say, big skyscrapers and department stores create employment too. So you’d think these “activists”, if they were truly consistent in their advocacies, would also lament the loss of potential jobs that would result in the abortion of projects they oppose.
This latest instance of outrage faddery surrounding Boracay is yet another example of the sort of shortsightedness Filipinos apply to the management of their resources and national treasures. It also shows just how much of a lack of vision underlies the Philippines’ vacuous national debate.
If Boracay is not closed now, what is the alternative? We don’t see too many of these outrage faddists going beyond their screechy tweets to propose alternative solutions — which is a good enough reason for action down a clear proposed pathway be undertaken. Now.
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