Style Living Self Celebrity Geeky News and Views
In the Paper Shop Hello! Create with us

Dolomite beach and our need for sunshine

By Joel Pablo Salud Published Oct 18, 2021 6:49 pm

Been reading up on beaches lately. Did you know that once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered the weak and weary, that a trip to the beach was a mainstay in doctor’s prescriptions?

And why not?It can cure maladies from severe acne to foreign accent syndrome, if I may add.Happened during Britain’s Industrial Revolution, so I learned.

Bet you didn’t know that. In fact, the beach has becomesuch a popular destinationsince the 18th century that one out of threebeach bumswould insist on visitingtalcum-powder shoreseven if theycan’tswim.

Too,did you know that a trip to the beach puts you within “arm’s reach”not only ofmuch-neededsunshine, but90% of the world’s volcanic activity?Yougottalava the warmth beaches offerthesoul.

And since social mediais riding the pink bandwagon, there are not one but four pink beaches in the country: Sila Island, Samar; Tikling Island and Subic Beach, Sorsogon; andPundaguitanBeach, Davao Oriental.

Pink heaven on Earth, if you ask me.

So far as the Philippines and beaches are concerned, the Lonely Planet saysthePhilippines and“picture-perfect beaches go together like a bucket and spade.”Having a little over 7,000 islands makes the countryabeach-bum haven, allowing for long stretchesof paradise-happycoaststo calm our asphalt-and smog-weary minds.

Anyone who has found himself within the sandyescapesof Boracay’sshorelinewell know it’s addicting. Yup, like some rich boy’s rumoredbeach-whitecocaine habit. El Nido, of course, makes for a veritable Nirvana with its whitecoastsandsteep karst cliffs.

TheLas Cabañas Beachin the same area boasts of magnificent sunsetsto which no Instagram shot will ever do justicein spiteof the flimsiestfuchsiabikinisand mind-boggling vital statistics.

AndI mean that.There’s also Ipil Beach, an island paradise fenced bycotton-softsands andareasgreat for snorkeling.

With Manila being hailed as the Queen City of the Pacific, a veritable Paris of the Orient at the turn of the 20th century, Manila Bay became one of the most visited touristdestinationsby the West in the early 1900s.Not exactly your sand-water attraction but great for sunset walks.

A worker reminds beachgoers of COVID protocols.

I recall watching athrowbackYouTube video of ManilaBaywhere western womenroamedthebrickcauseway in their gowns bearing lace parasols.Like some old moving picture of Paris or New York City with one notable exception: this one had the classickalesaand historic Manila Bay as backdrop.

It was a vision of Manila and the Bay most people hardly know.Some peoplethink ofMaynilatodayas thisghettocaught between a botched progress report and a classic-nessno amount of fiscal budget can repair.

And what of Manila Bay? A pollution hotspot, by any standard, with plastic wrappers and bottles, Styrofoam containers, and human waste battling it out for naval supremacy. My bet, obviously, is on the poop.

Nonetheless, Manila is a city where itsage-old scentcan beeasilyremedied by a simple love of history. Manila Bay, for example,wasn’t onlythe site of a historicnavalbattles, it was—and still is—the best place to watch resplendent sunsets,and lovebirds making out a stone’s throw from a cockroach hole by the sea.

Then comes this administration’s dolomite beach,standing roughly 550 meters from the United States Embassy and costing the taxpayersP389 million at first, and another P265 million for the second phase of the Manila Bay rehabilitation.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was quick to the draw, saying that the beach project’s aim is to promote“positive mental health.” While beaches do have that effect on most people, there are things that need raising.

The dolomite beach cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of pesos.

The timing of the clean-up effortis but one of numerous controversies hounding the project: the new coronavirus pandemic. It’s been said that such amounts could’ve been used for widespread contact tracing and vaccine procurement.

Let’s not even go to where experts raised caution as tothedolomite’s potential threat to the health of the public and marine wildlife.

Of course, for most Filipinos trapped by one lockdown after another, the dolomite beach became a kind of curiosity, enough to bring them to the site the moment it opened its gates to the public.

Roy Cimatu of DENR naturally defines the influx of people as a show of support.But that couldn’t be all true for everyone, not when many wholurk in cyberspace think of the whole project as abad joke.

Onereal problem can be found in the waters itself. Environmental protection agencies have repeatedly said that the quality of Manila Bay waters may have improvedbut only slightly, not significant enough to allow for swimming and bathing, let alone drinking.

MMDA and DPS personnel collect garbage washed up on Manila Bay after monsoon rains on July 24, 2021.

Cimatusaid in aPhilippine Starreport, “Bathingin the area is prohibited as the level of fecal coliform in Manila Bay has not gone down to 100 most probable number per 100 milliliters, the standard level acceptable for swimming and other contact recreational activities.”

Likewise, plastic pollution along Manila Bay’s mangrove and mudflat regions has reached disturbing proportions, so much so that an Oct. 5, 2021 report byThe Guardianraised issues about the survival of adjacent communities and migratory birds in the area.

This 1,600-foot stretch of dolomitesandwill remain controversial for years to come. That’s an absolute certaintybecause any chance atpogipoints by the State will always be at loggerheads with a pandemic which may last us another 10 years.

In a country where an average 20 typhoonsthreaten its population, with at least oneor twoCategory 5 storms (157-mile per hour winds) hitting the Philippineseach year, we have more reason to fear the disappearance of the dolomite beach than whatever staying power we can give it.

Not only that, butrumors of corruption have assailed itscreation from the start. This, above all other issues, might justhold back all attempts to recreate Manila Baybackto its pristine glory—pogipoints aside.

Time wasted on a beach is always time well-spent, so beach bums say.

But the hundreds of millions wasted to rehabilitate one, at a time when such an amount can helpsecurea crumbling public health system,arenothing buta total waste.

In these dark times,wehave little choice but tosettle for sunshineby leaving incorruptible footprints in the sand.