6 Beautiful Places in the Philippines that Could Disappear Sooner Than You Think

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

beautiful places in the philippines under threat

We Travel, We Care is a series of essays discussing and exploring issues related to travel and tourism.

Traveling is now becoming a more and more popular pursuit for Filipinos. Every weekend, every holiday, every "leave" is  being spent with trips and sojourns to places all over the country. Whether it be a quick getaway or a week of backpacking, one thing we can be sure is that the Philippines has more marvelous destinations than we could ever have dreamed of. Unfortunately, some of these unbelievable places are under threat and are bound to go to ruin sooner or later if nothing is done. As travelers, we should be the first ones to stand up against despicable abuse of the environment

From the world's best island to lesser-known but equally beautiful places, here are six places that are in danger of being destroyed beyond repair:

Malay, Aklan

By now, I'm sure all of us are aware of the rapid commercialization of Boracay island. With it receiving several accolades ranging from World's Best Island to World's Best Beach, it should come as no surprise that investors and developers would swoop in on this island. Regardless, it is unacceptable that indiscriminate use of land and declassification of the remaining wildlife forests are still rampant while concerned government institutions are doing absolutely nil to prevent further damage. In fact, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) told developers they had managed to reclassify Puka Shell Beach at the northern part of Boracay for commercial development. It should be noted that in this beach lies one of Boracay's remaining tropical forests and is home to endangered, almost extinct, species.
puka shell beach boracay
Puka Shell Beach
Photo credit: Boracay Travel

At present, a 426-room resort is being constructed on what is supposedly a protected piece of forest land. Continued land developing and construction is greatly contributing to Boracay's ecological and coastal degradation as well as to social and cultural dislocation.
boracay commercialization
Photo credit: Change.org

A petition to reclassify Puka Shell Beach as a protected area, and for the LGU to abolish building permits in the island is on going. To know more about and to help on this issue, go here. Visit also the Facebook page of the Save Boracay movement.

Socorro, Surigao del Norte

Across the island of Bucas Grande is the municipality of Claver. This first-class municipality relies on mining because of the large iron mineral deposits on its land. While the mining industry has provided Claver's residents livelihood for decades, the environmental consequences of this activity are not to be taken lightly.
bucas grande sohoton cove
Sohoton Cove in Bucas Grande
Photo credit: Jeffrey Rilles

An islet in Claver, once bordered with white sands, is now surrounded by orange sediments from the mining activities. The silt seeps into the blue waters of Claver's beaches. Mountains are heartrendingly denuded.

Although it is claimed that the mining corporations are doing their activities responsibly and are spearheading rehabilitation projects all throughout Surigao, there is likelihood that the orange silt could reach the shores of Bucas Grande where Sohoton Cove is found – home of the sting-less jellyfish, potentially harming marine life and destroying its ecological balance. 
surigao mining
An islet in Claver surrounded by orange sediments from the mining activities
Photo credit: Ervin Mascariñas

Pro-mining individuals have stated that this is a far cry and would be impossible. Yet despite the assurance, and more than the alleged connivance with the national government, it is undeniable that mining has grave consequences, some of which we do not yet fully understand. I hope that by the time we do, it's not too late.

To know more about this, visit the Facebook page of the Save Surigao movement

Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan

Turtle Bay is home to a diverse ecosystem, including a population of already vulnerable Asian small-clawed otters. The small shallow bay is also surrounded by mangroves which act as sea life nurseries, forming a habitat for 108 varieties of clams and shells and other unique species.
turtle bay palawan
Turtle Bay
Photo credit: Puerto Prinsesa LGU
Permits have been given for the building of an ocean park in Turtle and Binunsalian Bays. As a result, this established marine sanctuary has been rezoned by the LGU to accommodate the project. This project is being conducted by a firm recently cited for building on Boracay’s last pristine beach without an Environmental Clearance Certificate. The ecosystem in Turtle bay could be permanently damaged by earth-moving activities necessary for construction of the proposed park, silt would be trapped within the shallow bay, compromising the bays' natural environment.
Asian clawed otters of Turtle Bay
Photo credit: Rene Limjoco
An online petition to rescind the permits is currently afoot. An informative blog dedicated to saving these bays is also up.

Baras, Rizal

Masungi Georeserve is a geotourism park situated inside the 1500+ hectares of the Masungi conservation area. It was once a site of rampant logging until decades of reforestation, rehabilitation and sustainable developments were undertaken by a private firm. Now, wildlife is returning to the area and rare and endemic flora and fauna thrive in its limestone forest. Jade vines, civet cats, and cloud rats are some of the fascinating residents of Masungi.
nanay masungi
Nanay, one of the three peaks inside the Reserve
Recent incidents of illegal logging and land-grabbing in apparent connivance with the Tanay LGU (a great part of Masungi is in Tanay), however, have placed this delicate area in danger. Masungi is being subjected to harassment and politicking on a daily basis, posing threat to the security and safety of not only visitors but also the people working to protect it. In the wrong hands, all the hard work that brought Masungi back to life could all be in vain.
giant sapot masungi georeserve
Masungi's iconic giant steel web
Know more about the events that transpired here. Visit also the Facebook page of the Save Masungi movement.

Valencia/Dumaguete, Negros Oriental

Mount Talinis is second only to Kanlaon as the highest mountain in Negros. It already has several established trails in Valencia, making it popular among hikers. Its summit is heavily forested and its forest system is home to endemic and rare wildlife including Philippine spotted deer and Negros bleeding-hearts. Flora include 91 tree species, edible berries, and broad-leafed tree ferns.
mount talinis cuernos de negros
Mount Talinis
Photo credit: Trip Advsor
The rich biodiversity of Cuernos de Negros (Horns of Negros) is already threatened by illegal logging, "kaingin," increased tourist activity and the gradual build-up of houses near its forested areas. Another threat is posed on this ecological treasure, in the form of the 60-megawatt geothermal expansion of renewable energy firm Energy Development Corporation (EDC).
save mt talinis
Photo credit: R. Montano

Environmental activitists claim that the project had already uprooted more than 500 century-old trees and could result into the loss of the last remaining forest cover of Mount Talinis. The most recent development was the "disappointing" public hearing conducted on March 16, 2016. Representatives from environmental groups walked out on the  hearing, citing insufficient talk-time as the cause. 

Know more about this issue and the online petition here.

Palompon, Leyte

One of the most recent places to get media hype is the pristine white sand island of Kalanggaman. This place is ringed with crystal clear deep blue waters, its surface bare of any structures. While the previously mentioned destinations are threatened because of commercialization, regulation issues, and politicking, Kalanggaman's primary threat is irresponsibility. By whom? By Filipinos.
kalanggaman island leyte
The unbelievable island of Kalanggaman
Photo credit: Mike Lagaan

A Facebook post by a concerned traveler had brought to light the impending ruin of the island. He said that overnight stays are being regulated but day tours are taking its toll on the place. He claims to have seen a boat operator throwing bags of garbage into the middle of the sea. Lack of proper regulations and implementation are cited for these incidents, but the main culprit, I believe, is irresponsibility of both visitors and locals. Come on, people, we've discussed this already! Have some shame and be responsible!
kalanggaman island leyte
This could disappear if we continue with our irresponsibility
Photo credit: Out of Town Blog

Before we demand action from others, we must always start with ourselves. We owe it to the environment! It provides us with so much, the least we can do is to protect it. The future generations may never get the chance to see the beauty we are seeing now, to experience the marvel that we are experiencing. Let us spread awareness and bring attention to these issues. And of course, let us be responsible travelers, above all else! In the words of Edmund Burke: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing

Do you know of other beautiful places in the Philippines that are facing similar issues? Share them in the comment section below!

Be a responsible traveler and read these basic etiquette for travelers, and simple rules when you're on the beach.

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