White beaches. Places within reach to go to on weekends with family and friends. Through the years, all around the gulf, these standard go-to retreats have all evolved so much and so fast that, what were once secret nooks for a few during the 60s, have now become full-time resorts, complete with modern amenities and accessible via paved roads.
I remember in first year high, one of our classmates residing in Matina introduced a few of us to what was Times beach. From Ateneo, we had to wind our way through a field of tall cogon grass, and past nipa huts before a clean beach stretched before us. Still no places that sold food and drinks like the present time, except for a tiny store that had tuba, some candies, and cheap Bataan cigarettes. When I returned years later, the once-trail had already become a road, with makeshift huts on each side for bathers and a line of stores manned by enterprising residents of the community. All meant to cater to hundreds of beach-goers nesting under the shade of trees and picnicking happily.
If from that time, up to the present, a time-lapsed visual presentation were to be made showing the development of the Davao shoreline, including that of Samal and Talicud Islands’, the rapidity of their progress would surely appear impressive, though superficially. For one, I reckon the communities may have already thought of cashing in on the gulf”s appeal to visitors because in the 80s, it created quite a stir among my officemates, about a mad rush for buying properties going on in and around Samal island. Tourism fever may have been peaking then, but that was just my hunch, as others say it started much earlier.
Fast forward to the present. Over the weekend, along with friends and their families, my pardner and I went on an island cruise tour. With the gulf’s history already brewing for so long (I had planned to write about it for a long time), I thought maybe I ought to just test the waters, so to speak, do a bite-sized piece, and write about what I observed.
It is just so sad and tragic that beneath the surface of everything that is supposedly-good in the gulf today is trash. This, plus crushed corals to make the beaches appealing for bathers and children to wade in, are but two that deserve everyone’s notice. I like to snorkle and have a fondness for coral reefs and its inhabitants, but not much to be found here anymore. Although not in the same league as some of my pro friends, I’m in where I know a healthy reef when I see one. While sanctuaries exist, the fact that these are called such, cannot betray the overall impact of destruction resulting from our ironic enjoyment of “being one with nature”.
Underwater beneath the blue, lies an assortment of shoes, plastic, cans and what else that can be thrown in the ocean. That’s about it. Enjoy the beach, the amenities, the service and the ambience. Delight in seeing grey bottom-feeders while they sift through our waste, and mistake them for the aquarium colorful fishes of our imagination, or Nemo.
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