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Rough Cuts | Swath of darkness in a Samal dawn

One of the country’s top money maker industries that are gravely suffering from the effect of the Corona Virus Disease (CoViD 19) is tourism. And the areas worst affected are places that are known primary tourists destinations.

These include Boracay Island in Malay, Antique; Cebu, Bohol, Quezon Province, Baguio City among others.

In the Davao Region which consists of the provinces of Davao del Norte, Davao de Oro, Davao Oriental, Davao del Sur, Davao Occidental with their respective component cities; and Davao City itself, the most seriously affected is the Island Garden City of Samal (IGaCoS)which is a component city of Davao del Norte.

Only about fifteen minutes ferry travel from the mainland taking off from Sasa, Davao City, IGaCoS’ lifeblood is its income from taxes paid by tourism establishments that abound in that island city. The businesses that add more income to the city treasury are also mostly tourism-related or those that cater to the needs of tourists both local, from other areas in the Philippines, and those from other countries.

Indeed tourists came in huge numbers during the past years and up to the time immediately prior to the imposition of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) nation-wide with the onset of the CoViD 19 pandemic. IGaCoS really was a city in bloom and boom because of the very vibrant tourism industry.

That was why during my last visit in the area late last year it did not surprise me to see the roads concreted, business establishments other than the seaside resorts, are lining closed to each other in the city’s major population centers like in Babak central, in Kaputian and in the island’s government center which is Penaplata. In fact, even the vibrant nightlife in Davao City seems to have rubbed in on the IGaCoS darkness; thanks to the city’s liquor ban and curfew ordinances.

But when the ECQ regime became effective the island city’s tourism-driven bullish economy suddenly got shattered like it was hit by a mid-day lightning. Its tourism income dwindled fast enough and three months into the pandemic the island city’s lifeblood is now in its driest days.

But after being placed under the General Community Quarantine category starting last June 16, 2020 IGaCoS mayor Al David Uy announced in a television interview last Tuesday that his city’s tourism industry will be reopened starting this coming July 1.

Acknowledging that like the rest of the country Samal is not devoid of the risks from CoViD 19, the youthful local chief executive said he wants to make sure that all health protocols now adopted by the national government will have to remain in place. One such protocol is the social distancing of people inside or around tourism facilities like resorts and related establishments.

Thus, Mayor Uy wants to have resorts pre-book the tourists who want to come or stay in their places. Through this scheme social distancing can be assured. And he wants the management of these tourism businesses to provide sanitation facilities including hand-washing stations, temperature checking, and other sanitary measures.

But what made us more appreciative of the young mayor is his candidness in admitting that the tourism industry of his city will have a hard time getting back on its feet. The CoViD 19 pandemic has sapped the industry’s foundation to the bones.

For now Mayor Uy pins his hope for the slow yet sure return of the city’s vibrancy on the thought that already some 50 percent of the 140 or so tourism-related businesses in the island city have already acquired the authority to re-open its operation from the Department of Tourism (DoT) now that Samal is already under the GCQ level.

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And talking of Samal, it was not all good news last Tuesday that emanated from the city.

Yes, amidst the welcome news of the possibility of re-opening of the tourism industry in that island, came this disturbing, even morbid incident that spilt blood in the city’s soil.

We are referring to the report that a grandson hacked dead his grandfather and grandmother just because the suspect was getting annoyed by the noise made by his grandparents. He also hacked and almost killed an uncle who wanted to stop him. Good thing that luck was with his other relative. The latter survived the attack and later testified to the police on the crime committed by his nephew.

And worst, the suspect is believed to be suffering from mental disorder as a result of his having been a user of illegal drugs.

The incident is like a swath of darkness in the slowly dawning of new days for the island city. We could only surmise the feeling of Mayor Uy on that bloody parricide and attempted murder cases in his IGaCoS now in the thick of preparations for its tourism industry re-opening.

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