WATCH: Washed up garbage seen floating in El Nido, Palawan
MANILA, Philippines – To many, mention El Nido, Palawan, and what comes to their mind is a picture of pristine islands, blue skies and clear seas. This is not the sight that welcomed Filipino tourist Ianna Reyes, however, during her visit at the Secret Lagoon on Thursday, August 16.
An overwhelming heap of trash, mostly plastic bottles and wrappers, were seen floating around the small lagoon in the video taken by Reyes.
In a Facebook message, Reyes told Rappler that her post was not intended to harm the province's tourism industry. Instead, she wanted to challenge the public to be mindful of where they throw their garbage every time they visit tourist places like Palawan.
“The post wasn’t to harm the booming tourism in Palawan but to help raise awareness that we should be mindful of where we throw our garbage or else, it will come bite us back in the places we least expect it to be,” Reyes said.
As of posting, the video garnered 22,000 reactions and was shared over 23,000 times.
In a radio interview, municipal administrator Rene Jay Dela Calzada said that the Secret Lagoon is located in the outer portion of the islands. Calzada also explained that this was not a case of tourists leaving their trash in the area because it was not the designated place for picnic and rest. He claimed that garbage from nearby provinces may have washed up to their province due to the monsoon.
"Alam natin na kapag may malakas na daloy ng hangin at waves, yung mga basura galing sa laot ay pumapasok sa public bay," he said.
(We know for a fact that when there are strong winds and rain, the trash from the oceans would wash ashore into our public bay)
This was echoed by netizens in the comments section, explaining that the province has implemented a ban on plastics and conducts regular clean up drives as part of the local government's tourism policy.
The video also served as a reminder of the heaps of garbage that washed up along Roxas Boulevard after monsoon rains and strong winds hit Metro Manila. (READ: Monsoon dumps over half of August rainfall in just 1 day)
Earlier in January 2018, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources implemented several policies to regulate tourism in the Palawan.
The Protected Area Management Board of El Nido-Taytay Protected Area passed a resolution, limiting the tourist entry and activity in the 3 most visited places in El Nido which are the Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, and the Secret Beach.
The PAMB also closed Helicopter Island, Balinaud Beach, Turtle Island, Pacanayan Islands, among other areas which are identified with high biodiversity value. – with a report from Abigail Abigan/Rappler.com