CHARLOTTE, North Carolina -- It is that time of year here in the US when most citizens travel either domestic or international.
Many families who could not travel during winter, autumn and spring with the kids in school reserve family bonding through travel around this time.
It may be expensive but still the best period to travel and tourist spots in the country are all ready for travelers. I look forward to traveling around the US at this time.
Depending on how much we saved in the past year and whether it be a cruise, on the road or by air or heading outside the country, traveling is part of our lives.
Part of my bucket list is to visit the 50 states before I get too old to travel with Ronnie my money man. So far I have been to 11 states already so I may not be able to crisscross the entire US but it’s a good effort.
In all these travels here in US since eight years ago, I’ve had the awesome time and experienced the best that travelling in this country had to offer.
When I say the best I mean restrooms (bathroom to most Pinoys), rest area, sites to see (historical, religious, food, gardens and museums). Most of these visits are road trips and I enjoyed very much the scenery, trees and amenities.
And for Ronnie and I, the most important consideration when traveling is making sure we are within reach of medics, hospitals and drugstores.
Speaking of which, the travel bug has not only bitten foreigners but Filipinos as well.
Problem is, the Philippines isn’t prepared to handle the tourists visiting shores.
I am reminded of this when I read online the complaint of broadcast journalist Karen Davila when she and her family vacationed in Siargao, Mindanao.
In her Facebook account, Davila recounted that after she and her family checked into a resort, she immediately booked surfing lessons for her two boys.
As she explained, one of her boys “face challenges in coordination being within the autism spectrum.” Davila later found out that her son suffered “crisscross abrasions, cuts, gashes and bruises.”
What made it worse was that her son’s surfing instructor disappeared after he led her husband to the nearest pharmacy.
Those who read the complaint online know more of what happened than me.
I only picked up the part where Davila and her husband saw that there were no medicines at the hospital where their son was confined as well as the hotel where they were billeted.
It is a shame that until now the local governments and the national government aren’t doing anything to improve the services in the tourism sector which generate considerable revenue for the country aside from the overseas workers.
I don’t agree with the opinions of others that what happened to Davila’s son should serve as a wake up call. There had been so many wake up calls in the past and until now the government and local governments are still sleeping on their jobs.
They refuse to wake up for whatever reasons and cast blame on others for what happened to tourist. Maybe there are areas where one needs only minimal fixing but even that is not being done.
It is a disgrace to the Philippines that they make money from tourism yet had failed miserably in protecting their visitors, more so their own.
What if what happened to Davila and her family happened to a foreigner and the foreigner looked for first aid?
Surely something will be done now that a popular broadcaster complained about the dismal state of services in Siargao Island.
Davila raised some valid concerns that should be addressed by the government agencies and the local government.
I’ve heard about Siargao island even before I arrived in the US and in fact I have been asked by Filipino-Americans here about the surfing at Siargao after they learned that I came from the island of Mindanao.
Of course I am proud of Siargaos’s reputation as a top surfing destination being a Mindanaoan. Here in the US, tourists are cared for by the state, the county and the city.
Aside from the promotional materials, their tourist centers are equipped with rest rooms (comfort rooms to Pinoys and they really comfort the user) and other equipment.
There are also hospitals and drugstores within reach at the tourist spots. Maybe those who read this would reason that the Philippines isn’t as developed in terms of economy than the US but I don’t buy that excuse.
There is no excuse for a province or a local government to neglect their visitors if they are making money off them. What happened to Davila and her family should remind resorts, hotels and other tourist spots to set up adequately equipped clinics and hospitals to care for their guests. I could just imagine Davila’s anxiety on learning that even first aid kits were unavailable at the municipal clinic. We should always be reminded that we should be ready to attend to our guests whether they be foreign or domestic.
Tourism is a big industry that serves thousands of travelers. We could not make excuses all the time and say that the Davila incident is isolated.
I hope that after Karen Davila is done talking about what happened to her son that this would never happen again in Siargao or any place in the country for that matter.
We are way past wake up calls in the Philippines. It’s time to raise the alarm on the criminal neglect of local governments in ensuring the welfare and safety of their guest.
The Philippines has so much to offer and it is a shame if we lose the goodwill of travelers for neglecting them. (Comments firstname.lastname@example.org)