Weekend lifeguards now serve 2 La Union public beaches
MANILA, Philippines – Lifeguards? Sure, we see them in foreign movies and in popular beach destinations in the country.
But not all public beaches here can afford one, and that is the challenge a beach association in San Juan, La Union, is trying to address now.
San Juan Resort Restaurant Hotel Association (SJRRHA), together with Barangay Urbiztondo and the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, has deployed 9 lifeguards to ensure beachgoers' safety.
Six of them were assigned to Urbiztondo Beach, the most visited tourist site in San Juan with recorded 173,741 day tourist arrivals. The other 3 were stationed in Ili Norte.
SJRRHA president Tina Antonio said that deploying lifeguards to public beaches is supposedly a duty of the local government.
"But due to lack of budget (as per municipality), public safety by means of lifeguards has been deprioritized,” she added.
So they created a feasible working system for public safety funded by the association as part of its community social responsibility.
The new safety system was implemented this weekend, just in time for the Holy Week celebration.
According to Antonio, the first day was promising as they managed to minimize littering, drinking, making bonfires, and smoking at the beach altogether.
She also said that "guests now follow the lifeguards which was a problem in the past year."
Before, when they were being called out by non-uniformed community volunteers, they wouldn't follow due to entitlement, she added.
The association members are also monitoring the system by coordinating through Facebook Messenger.
Antonio showed us a screenshot of a member's message which said, "Very much appreciated this lifeguard yesterday…. He paddled as far as Little Surfmaid to remind swimmers that swimming hours were soon over."
Another one is requesting establishments near the highway to leave one parking space for the garbage truck.
The lifeguards are deployed every weekend from 6 am to 6 pm and are being paid an honorarium from the association's advocacy allowance, obtained from events they organized.
Antonio hopes that this will be sustained. For this to happen, the only way she knows is to have a legislation that will include beach safety in the municipal's annual budget.
In the meantime, they are consolidating learnings from the implementation last weekend. – Rappler.com