Fetalvero: Saving the countryside

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By Noemi C. Fetalvero

Two empty bottles

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


WHEN you want to escape the city life that is so polluted with dust and carbon monoxide, you think of going out to the countryside where the environment is unpolluted and unspoiled. You want to find a clean stream, or a park where you do not have to spend thousands of pesos.

When you visit a local tourism information office, more often than not you will be given a brochure or a travel guide to get to resorts, or an amusement park where you will be compelled to spend.

What happened to our countryside? Where are our national parks? I think Rizal Park is the only place where you can stroll or enjoy an orchestra playing that may be free of charge. Eco-parks are not free. Our beachfronts have cottages maintained by the locals and you have to pay rental fee ranging from P100 to P300. Where can a Filipino go without having to dip into his pocket to pay the entrance fee?

Some beachfronts have been reclaimed by landowners and there are no safeguards to protect our beaches. As long as you are able to pay offshore taxes, go ahead with reclamation. The tourism industry has given investors much leeway disregarding land use policies.

The countryside’s landscape has changed. Large-scale developments such as government housing, subdivisions, malls, power plants, agribusiness, mining and reservoirs have replaced natural pathways and clean brooks where you can just wade; meadows where you can unroll the banig and enjoy a picnic with the family. Where are our woods? Wooded areas are either occupied by rebels or declared as conserved and restricted areas by the government.

Before we completely lose our countryside, perhaps the Aquino Administration has to declare some parts of our rural areas as national parks and recreation areas. This government has to have an integrated management to ensure the safety and protection of these places. Filipinos must not feel their aliens in their own country.

We greet our tourists “Mabuhay,” but whose lives are affected by our tourism industry? While we welcome foreign investors, ecological balance and social implication have to be considered as we promote tourism.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 03, 2014.

Lifestyle

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