Cliche as it may sound now, but we have a responsibility as travelers to leave only our footprints to the places we visit. It’s heartbreaking to see the headlines about popular Philippine destinations trashed by tourists (both domestic and foreigners). While we pride ourselves in proclaiming the Philippines as a paradise, what we do or our inaction can easily turn this paradise into a has-been. Filipinos love to travel but we need to love the places as well. And we need to start showing that love at our own backyards.
The silver lining behind all this is it’s not too late yet. Let’s spread awareness and mend our ways. PICK UP YOUR OWN TRASH and leave it on a proper garbage disposal. If you don’t find any trash bins nearby, JUST BRING THE TRASH WITH YOU until you find one. It’s also important that we remind other people not to litter should we witness them doing so, and NOT IMITATE them. We can also go the extra mile and pick up the trash other people left behind. If we have the hearts for traveling, we need to have the hearts to preserve these places.
Here are just some of the saddest Philippine destinations trashed by tourists.
Arguably the most popular of the Philippine beaches and also one of the most popular beaches in the world, Boracay’s mounts of garbage problem has led to its temporary six-month-closure that started April 21. The closure will focus on rehabilitation and will give the place respite after “many years of unbridled expansion and the influx of mass tourism,” according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Once recognized as the world’s best destination for ecotourism and the most environment-friendly facility by World Travel Awards, the trash heaps found by a tourist in the waters of El Nido’s Secret Lagoon have made the headlines. As one of the most popular Philippine destinations trashed by tourists, this news has shaken the country.
Sagada’s Sumaguing Cave
One of the most popular destinations in Sagada, the Sumaguing Cave with its impressive rock formations and chambers has seemingly become a trash bin for visitors after it was opened to tourists.
A favorite hiking destination, even the country’s highest mountain did not escape the clutches of irresponsible tourism. Home to the most number of flora and fauna unique in Mindanao, including the critically-endangered Philippine Eagle, tourists left behind piles of trash along its trails and campsites.
Mt. Pico De Loro
Once threatened to be turned into an official garbage site, the plans were thwarted thanks to the protests from mountaineers. The story of Mt. Pico De Loro with its iconic rock peaks does not have a happy ending. Popular for new hikers, its campsites are littered with garbage.
One of the most popular beach destinations in Leyte, Kalanggaman Island is known for its stretches of white sand and pristine blue waters. The shallow waters, however, reveal litters of tin cans, plastic wrappers, bottles, etc. The island was closed off for a week last year for a “beauty rest.” Since then, ecotourism within the island has been hailed by tourists as it strictly implements a daily cap of 500 tourists who are handed by boatmen two garbage bags for disposable and non-disposable wastes. These garbage bags are diligently returned to the boatmen before the tourists depart.
Sambawan Island, Biliran
Biliran’s majestic Sambawan Island boasts white sandy beach, stunning corals, and green landscapes but has unfortunately entered in our list of popular Philippine destinations trashed by tourists. Just a few minutes’ walk from the main tourist area, however, lies a beach polluted by trash driven by water currents from nearby islands.