Situated in different islands of the country, what do Manila Bay in Luzon and the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa in the Visayas, have in common?
At least one thing: dolomite.
While they both have “Bay” in their names, the areas could not be any more different.
Manila Bay is located in the congested and polluted capital, while Plantation Bay is on the eastern coast of Mactan Island in Cebu, home to hundreds of beach resorts and hotels.
But earlier this year, a patch of coast on Manila Bay generated controversy when passersby noticed sand being dumped into Manila Bay.
The photos went viral on the internet, prompting the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to explain that the sand was actually synthetic, made from dolomite extracted from faraway Cebu, to “beautify” that section of Manila Bay.
The DENR defended the project, saying that the sand, which cost about P28 million, would “signify” cleanliness. (READ: FAST FACTS: What is dolomite sand, and how will it affect Manila Bay?)
In fact, it was the DENR that said dolomite was already being used in other beach resorts whose shores do not have natural white sand. The example they cited was Plantation Bay, according to a report in the Manila Bulletin.
Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda told the public this to give assurances the synthetic sand would not be hazardous to the health of Manileños and visitors.
The 11-hectare resort, which opened in 1996, has been using dolomite for its artificial lagoons and its portion of the Mactan shoreline.
Another thing the two have in common is controversy.
In a viral Facebook post, Cebu resident Mai Pages said Plantation Bay’s staff reprimanded her for her child’s noise even as she explained that her son had special needs and makes noise when he gets excited. Pages said this was why she gave the resort a one-star rating on travel site TripAdvisor.
The Commission on Human Rights and the Department of Tourism both said they are investigating the incident to determine if the resort violated the law protecting the rights of persons with disabilities.
After initially responding harshly to the review, and accusing the mother of lying about her son’s autism, resort owner Manny Gonzalez eventually apologized through Plantation Bay’s Facebook page.
The Manila Bay project, on the other hand, is often criticized for being a symbol of the administration’s misplaced priorities as it went ahead with this project in the midst of a global pandemic that has killed at least 8,000 people in the Philippines so far.
Antiporda had claimed the synthetic sand would be good for the “mental health” of Manileños dealing with depression caused by the lockdowns.
There has been no evidence, thus far, to support this claim. – Ryan Macasero/Rappler.com