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Coron: neglected tourist haven (I)


LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 1:6, the Holy Bible).

CORON: NEGLECTED TOURIST HAVEN (I): Coron town, in the Island of Busuanga in Northern Palawan, is a tourist haven that can compare with Phuket and Phi-phi Islands in Thailand, and which is fast becoming a favorite among local and foreign tourists. But, its future as a top tourist destination and a potential dollar earner in the mold of Boracay in Aklan is being hampered by obvious government neglect and indifference.

Why do I say this? Well, I was in Coron Monday and Tuesday, July 9 and 10, 2012, together with my wife, to attend a court hearing involving a land dispute, and we personally saw how electric supply in the town is highly unstable and is totally unreliable, especially with its so-called “load shedding”, or a system of plunging one or several barangays in darkness just so the other barangays can have their turn in having electricity.

Because of this, tourists are embroiled in discomfort, businesses get disrupted once too often, and customers’ desire to return one more time is impaired. The question is, why can’t the town have an electric barge, or even put up its own electric company? Why can’t the Department of Tourism, the Philippine Tourism Authority and the Office of the President come together and find a solution to this problem once and for all, to allow Coron to earn precious dollars?

VESTED INTERESTS BEHIND POWER OUTAGES? Why? It maybe because some vested interest groups may actually be reveling in this problem and may actually be pulling heaven and earth for lack or shortage of electric power to persist, because brownouts or blackouts maybe a way of earning for them. A simple walk around Coron, especially as dusk starts, will easily confirm this perception to be a fact.

For, as soon as nighttime falls and many parts of central Coron is once more deprived of electricity, hundreds of generator sets simultaneously roar to life and become the only source of light and power for a town where hundreds of tourists are on the prowl, either for dinner or any other evening meal, or for some drinks, or for some other night entertainment.

Of course, the generators are quite expensive, and so are the diesel and gasoline that fire up their engines, and your guess is as good as mine where these generator sets and the diesel or gasoline are coming from, especially since my wife and I did not see any single gasoline or generator station in Coron. Parenthetically, one need not be an A-1 scientist to know that generators using either diesel or gasoline are good pollutants and destroyers of the environment.

CORON AIRPORT: OVEN HOT, WITH A DOG GUARD TO BOOT: When our plane landed at the Francisco B. Reyes Airport in Coron last Monday, what immediately struck me and my wife was a piece of paper which everyone from the plane was required to sign. The paper was denominated “Arrival Card”, and each passenger’s name and other personal circumstances were required to be written in it.

I thought this was impressive, for nowhere else in the Philippines where there are domestic airports is this required to be done. This kind of a card is required to be filled up and signed only in international destinations, so this led me to thinking that Coron’s facilities, including the airport, were world-class.

As it turned out, I was greatly mistaken. While the road from the airport to Coron’s center was paved, its parts traversing small waterways are covered only by wood which looked like they were ready to fall anytime. And then, as I was waiting for our plane back to Manila, I waited, together with all other passengers, in a departure lounge that was oven hot because there was no air-conditioning system, and which was guarded only by a black dog that was sleeping most of the time anyway.

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