Editorial: Those Malapascua plans-A A +A
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
MALAPASCUA-DIVING.COM (Thresher Shark Divers, Malapascua Island), as a website that promotes Malapascua island in Daanbantayan town, is objective enough to inform would-be guests of what to expect from a place that lacks much of the amenities found in such a fully developed tourist destination as Boracay. Its “how to get there” instruction is spiced with some necessary warnings for visitors.
Travel time from Cebu City to Maya in Daanbantayan, estimated at 3-4 hours had to, for example, carry the caveat, “depending on traffic.”
In getting a boat from Maya to Malapascua, its “quick tips” include the warning that, if you ride a public boat, “they will try and get you to pay the highest price possible” and that “boats have no fixed schedules and will leave when they are full.”
When hiring private boats, the warning is to “beware of scams” and to not pay “more than 1,500” for a crossing unless it is bad weather. And in Malapascua itself, you are supposed to be wary of “commissioners” that board the boat as it docks.
And finally, this: “There are no ATMs in Malapascua” and “Few places accept credit cards.”
But there’s no question about the beauty of the place (white beaches) and the thrills it offers (diving to a shipwreck and in the popular Monad shoal, plus islets-hopping).
One should therefore welcome every effort spent by government officials, no matter how few and far between to maximize the full potential of the place.
Rep. Benhur Salimbangon, who represents Cebu’s fourth congressional district where Daanbantayan town and Malapascua are situated, is currently pushing for the passage of his bill seeking to declare the island as a tourism zone. If passed into law, the measure will change the land ownership setup in the 137-hectare enclave. Whether that is for better or for worse will depend upon one’s perspective.
Malapascua, after all, is not all about beaches and diving sites. Before the first tourist strayed into the island, a community of fishermen had sprouted there, surviving the harshness of the surrounding through fishing and farming.
Salimbangon’s bill and other government initiatives should therefore incorporate these people’s interests into whatever “grandiose” plans they lay down for Malapascua. These people should not be dispossessed but should rather benefit from those plans.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 02, 2012.