After Holy Week activities: Trucks of trash left in Santa Fe
CEBU, Philippines — The sight of trash smearing the white sand at daybreak on Easter Sunday was not something new but it also showed that tourists still have a lot of learning to do.
Trucks of empty bottles, plastics, and other types of garbage were collected yet again from the beach in Santa Fe, Bantayan Island, Cebu where an estimated 20,000 visitors arrived during the Holy Week.
“Our Solid Waste Management Personnel collected almost four trucks of garbage,” the town’s information officer, Dennis Ilustrisimo, told The Freeman yesterday, Easter Sunday.
He said the town deployed its employees and sought the help of volunteers from its War on Waste and Beach Patrol teams, among others, to clean the beach yesterday morning.
Considering it was not the first time Santa Fe had to deal with irresponsible beachgoers, several netizens who saw photos of the trash on The Freeman’s Facebook page suggested that the town impose heftier fines against those who do not dispose of their garbage properly.
The Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC) also urged tourists to be responsible with their garbage.
“For any tourist, we should be responsible of our trash and we should practice the clean as you go (the) process,” said HRRAC President Carlo Suarez.
Suarez said one of the ultimate goals of the hospitality sector, which includes resorts, is to “go green” in support to sustainable tourism.
“The goal of all industry players in Cebu is to go green, no to plastics bags, straw and more,” he said.
The town’s tourism officer, Melanie Loyao, said tourists have to pay P30 as tourism ecological fee upon arrival. The money generated from the fees will be used for tourism development and rehabilitation.
Under Municipal Ordinance 05-2017, the fee shall be collected from tourists, visitors, guests, and beachgoers who are 18 years old and above.
Those who violate the ordinance will be fined P500; P1,000; and P1,500 for the first, second, and third offenses, respectively.
As it appears, the challenge lies in making visitors follow the town’s “Clean as you stay, Clean as you Go” program.
Some visitors, Ilustrisimo said, simply do not care, especially when authorities are not on sight.
“Gabii man gud na sila manlabay og basura nila… if wala amoa taga-WOW (War on Waste volunteers) that’s the time maghugay-hugaw sila (They throw their garbage anywhere at night, especially when our War on Waste volunteers are not patrolling the beach),” he said.
He said the town has conducted information drives on proper waste disposal among tourists and resort owners have also been directed to be responsible of the trash in their areas.
Santa Fe and the rest of Bantayan Island are crowd drawers during the long holiday during Holy Week because of the pristine waters and white sand beaches there.
Loyao said they have already restricted non-Holy Week related events on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday but parties are allowed after the religious activities on Black Saturday.
In the past, Santa Fe became known for the “Isla Music Fest” during Holy Thursday or Good Friday, but the event has since been stopped for the past two years now owing to criticism from religious groups.
Despite the garbage dilemma, Fr. Roy Bucag said this year’s observance of the Holy Week in Santa Fe has been the “most peaceful” because the local government did not allow parties last Thursday and Friday.
While the church will not deprive local and foreign tourists to enjoy the beauty of the town’s beaches, Bucag said they should maintain the sanctity of the Holy Week.
The Philippine Coast Guard also said the observance of Holy Week in the whole of Bantayan Island has been generally peaceful.
PCG Sub Station Commander PO2 Richard Gonzales said the Coast Guard patrolled the islands of Camotes, Panglao, and Bantayan to maintain peace and order amid the influx of local and foreign tourists.
The patrol was conducted in coordination with the MARINA, PNP, Philippine Port Authority, and Department of Tourism.
Gonzales commended the Santa Fe Municipal Government for putting up its one-stop shop to assist motorbanca owners in their respective island hopping packages as the PCG has not intercepted colorum motorbancas. (FREEMAN)