Boracay 'ng ating buhay'.
Well-meaning observers have long expressed alarm over the obvious unregulated development of Boracay, until recently our acknowledged world-class beach resort. But the attitude was: Never mind the nitpicking critics, let the fun continue. No wonder many good things in this country don't last.
It took President Duterte to expose the truth that this island of beautiful white-sand beaches, bikini-clad tourists, and crystal-blue waters has become a 'cesspool'-a septic tank for collecting and storing human waste and filth. We are told that when a local official was told about the President's 'cesspool expose,' he smiled and said, 'We are cesspool because of the money Boracay brings us'-a play on the word 'successful.' Perhaps if the President added that 'Boracay should also rid itself of the cesspool of corruption by local officials who condone establishments which mock the law,' then that punning official would have understood his stern admonition, and then perhaps a congressional inquiry would have been called so the honorable lawmakers could once again try hard to look good on TV.
Ruined, once-pristine Boracay is a microcosm of the massive human despoliation of the environment wrought by so-called progress worldwide, this country especially included-a civilized country that has a dead antipollution agency and that does not enforce antipollution laws. If Manila Bay-where one of the world's best harbors once upon a time is located-has become 'the biggest garbage dump,' why can't Boracay, with its whitest beach once upon a time, become 'the biggest cesspool'?
For every calamity, an opportunity! A scientist from Negros Occidental confirms the good news that uncollected garbage and human waste-in this case from Boracay's canals and streams-eventually decompose and, when mixed with white sand, transform into organic fertilizer. Our rice farmers can now avail themselves of cheap fertilizer for a bigger harvest so we don't have to import thousands of tons of rice. Boracay shall then metamorphose into not just a tourist destination but also a factory of an agri product we can call 'BCOF' (for Boracay Cesspool Organic Fertilizer). No need to hire Malabanan Poso Negro Services. Thanks to sewage bacterial action!
The filthy sewage flowing into the sea has produced another 'blessing'-the rapid growth of algal bloom. Many people appreciate a bloom, such as the beautiful 'spring bloom' of cherry blossoms in Japan. But few know what algal bloom is, though it evokes a kind of mystique that can prick the curiosity of flower lovers. Our cursory biological study tells us that 'algae or cyanobacteria in water often results in thick colored scum on the surface.' There are hundreds of establishments on Boracay with no environmental permits, only makeshift unsanitary latrines. Because of the rich 'nutrients' from the stinky sewage that flows into the sea, a thick mat of algal bloom rapidly grows-harmful and in colors of red, green, yellow and brown. It can make one do a double-take and be pleasantly surprised,
because though its colors clash against the 'Boracay blue,' they make an interesting panorama seen from the beach.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo can add to her ad: 'Come to Boracay and behold the world's most colorful algal bloom-with premium white sand!'
Let the fun continue. The noisy drinking tourists, the Divisoria-like crowd will still be there, perhaps even after the no-nonsense Interior Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III succeeds in closing Boracay temporarily. Alas, the corrupt officials will still be there! Everyone agrees with Densing that Boracay has to be rehabilitated, nay, reinvented-the insensible, the greedy and the corrupt deleted. Then we can call it 'Boracay ng ating buhay,' the island of our life, forever!
Eddie Ilarde (PO Box 107 Makati 1222) is a former senator, founding president of Maharlika Movement for National Transformation, author, freelance writer, and recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Radio-TV. His program 'Kahapon Lamang' airs over dzBB radio Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.