SOMEBODY SAVE MATABUNGKAY!
This is a repost of the article written by my former classmate in HS in her Facebook account. I would like to share it with you, so that you might answer the call to help and save one of our beaches.
SOMEBODY SAVE MATABUNGKAY!I went on a road trip with my family last August to find the
closest beaches to Manila. I had been to numerous beaches in Puerto
Galera, Busuanga, Siargao, Panglao, Boracay but had taken for granted
the ones that I could get to by car. So we drove to Nasugbu. Once
there, several men rushed toward us to peddle their resorts. They were
very persistent and it turned us off. We went to see some of the
resorts and were disappointed. It wasn’t as beautiful as the pictures
in the Net (of course) but worse, there were plastic bottles and bags
and cigarette butts in the sand here and there. It didn’t help that the
music from the resort was blaring out into the deserted beach and the
tide was up. It just wasn’t very inviting, considering we were the only
guests and there were vendors threatening to jump at the opportunity to
sell us their wares. It was sad. We decided to check somewhere else. It
was almost noon and we were hungry. We had been seeing the sign to go
to Matabungkay, and I remembered it was a beach my family had gone to
when I was really young. I remembered the floating rafts. I was
previously warned it wasn’t nice anymore, but I ignored the warning,
thinking it might have garnered this reputation because it was a public
beach and wasn’t up to par with the standards of the resort-going rich.
I didn’t give a shit. I grew up in Project 4. I have simple joys. We
decided to have lunch there and check it out. Our car was a hundred
meters away from the place when a mob (far cry from the 5 men in
Nasugbu) started running towards us, all telling us to follow them. We
asked where we could have a decent lunch, but they ignored our inquiry
and just forced us to go in different directions. In our confusion, we
parked in neutral territory and got out of our cars. The men were
bickering at each other and swarming us to the point of harassment that
Olivier, my husband snapped. Only then, did they leave us alone.
The beach was ugly. I knew it was a public beach and didn’t expect
much, but I didn’t expect it to be this ugly. It was far from what I
remembered it to be. There was so much garbage on the beach. Not just
the random plastic bottles, bags, and butts like in Nasugbu, but sacks
of it, mounds of it, lining the water and floating in the water along
with the uprooted seaweed from the reef where they harvest the stuff.
I’m not an anal person but it was disgusting. My cel camera photos
can’t document it enough. Take my word for it. It looked like a ship
wrecked somewhere close and the debris and carcasses beached. The
infrastructure didn’t make things better. Bungalows were haphazardly
designed and built too close to the water, eating up the beach front
painted in ostentatious hues of mint green and pink. The nice ones were
closer to the street. They were an eyesore. The rafts were in a sad
state. Sadder, I think with this unfortunate backdrop. We were so
hungry by this time that we indiscriminately chose a bungalow and
settled. Another group of people mobbed us offering fish and other
lunch items. The fish was extravagantly priced. It was more expensive,
twice more, than in Farmer’s market. So was the rice, the coffee, even
the charcoal! They were really milking us, because my husband is white.
Even the scripted pleas of the souvenir vendors “Maka-buena mano lang
ma’am”, “Maka bili lang ng pangbaon sa mga anak”, which I usually
understand and accept, put me off. I was so embarrassed, and tired of
the constant assault on my sensibilities that my hopes for a restful
vacation seemed nil.
I was heartbroken. I love my country, and I loved this place and seeing
Matabungkay now was like seeing a family member you remember fondly
ravaged by a disease. I love Filipinos, and staunchly defend our
various idiosyncrasies, but when I am treated so shabbily by my
countrymen, I am crushed.
Matabungkay is not beyond salvation. At around 3pm, the tide went down
and the water receded from the garbage and we were blessed with a
beautiful sky. The calm water looked like a vast mirror. I started to
look at the landscape objectively, stripped of the ugly elements (just
the trash, even) and it was glorious. Matabungkay is a beautiful place!
It’s been taken for granted. My kids had a blast. I went to the old
lady next door and borrowed a rake, and started raking whatever garbage
I could from the sand and water. Some people followed suit. It wasn’t
much, but it was already a lot. A bigger move could mean bigger
changes, and I am appealing to our Department of Tourism and the
barangay chairman of Matabungkay, Mr. Palahan, to make a move to keep
the beach clean. To educate the locals and the tourists (!) on waste
management.( I never throw cigarette butts and candy wrappers just
anywhere and hope to God that the bacteria that break down plastics
goes commercial soon!) Teach locals environmental and “tourist
approach” ethics. I think building on the beach front has to stop.
Build at the back and develop it to make it more palatable. Some people
rent houses in Puerto Galera behind the beach front for months at a
time. Prices of commodities in Matabungkay have to be controlled to
benefit both the locals and the tourists. Grocery items, I understand,
but the price of fish should be a bit cheaper than in Manila because
it’s easier to get. Law of Supply and Demand. Just a BIT cheaper and
the tourists will understand. After all, it is fresh. Even cheaper and
people will buy more and the locals will not have to resort to
irritating white lies and tactics. If the highway robbery continues,
people will bring “baon”. These little changes could only mean good
things in the long term, for everyone who thrives off this place. I am
not a politician, I don’t have the influence, nor am I a local with the
advantage of proximity. I am simply a Filipino, pleading with Filipinos
to help save a small strip of beach called Matabungkay. Who knows, I
just kick myself in the butt and join the cause. Small steps..