Port Barton is always a delight to visit. Its smallness as a village is a sort of a spectrum of something bigger and deeper. What happens in Barton speaks well of what could also be happening (and not happening) in other tourist destinations, especially in our majestically lovely Palawan.

If the attendance at Mass during this Holy  Week is a gauge to the influx of tourists, the number has tripled from last year as observed by Fr. Anthony Ducado (parish priest of the place). More than a quarter of the congregation were tourists, said he, both local and foreign. It will come as no surprise when locals will soon be outnumbered by tourists. Will this forecast be a boon or a bane? Will nature be properly preserved? Will local tradition, heritage, and cultural values be equally protected and be enhanced as well? Will the sensibilities of the people, especially that of the indigenous peoples be also considered (read: respected)? Or, will everything just be bulldozed by economics and backhoed by politics?

Money is not to be equated with progress, and vice versa. Development must always be a symphony of everything there is- economics, ethics, religious beliefs, culture, tradition and all. Such orchestra necessarily generates genuine progress under the baton of the common good. Otherwise, the so-called progress will actually amount to regress.

Here are my two cents:

Listen to the locals. Board Member Cherry Pie Acosta is from Port Barton. I wonder how is she doing with her controversial “T-back” ordinance. This ordinance earned for her the ire and the bash of many. But I wonder too whether those so-called bashers have also made a visit even just for once to Port Barton. Or, have they tried to browse the content of the ordinance where it talks about the respect of Palaweños and “promoting safe and wholesome tourist destination”. The locals are the ones directly hit. Their voice (cries) must be heeded. When they are not being listened to they become the proverbial victims of getting bulldozed and backhoed. No thanks to those hecklers and mere bystanders who have not even set foot in that tiny beautiful beach village.

Strike the balance. This is a time-tested and universally proven piece of advice. This is what the great philosopher Aristotle meant by “finding a balance” or “maintaining a golden mean”. It is an exercise of foresight, moderation and will power (political power badly needed). Beware of excesses, indulgements, and short-term gratifications. Baka mamaya puro na lang saya at palaging pera at nawala na ang lalim. Without balance, doon kaagad tumataob ang bangka dahil sira o bulok na ang isang katig.

Bond with the young. Tourism is predominantly creativity. Young people have lots of them. Their ingenuity could indeed at times be out of this world but that is because they are simply driven by a desire to accomplish a better world. I had the chance to hang out with them. They fondly call themselves as “Barton babies”. Some are still in college while many are already doing well in their respective professions. They make it a point to meet and update each other every summertime, albeit casually in a more relaxed ambiance and in a deeper personal way. “Masaya rito sa amin. We feel we belong to one family. Walang stress and you don’t have to dress to impress,” declared Joanna, a young nurse who now works abroad. Since they truly love the place, they are in the best position and disposition in making their place even a lovelier place.

Way back, Port Barton was a sitio of Puerto Princesa City. It became a barangay when it was ceded to a new municipality called  San Vicente by virtue of R.A. 5821 (source: courtesy of a frame hanged in one resto bar). The name Port Barton came from an Englishman military man who made a strategic and economic survey of the islands, Colonel Burton. He placed flaglets to every port he stationed. It has skipped my inquisitive mind how Burton became Barton. That is not something to be worried about though. But I will certainly frown at a day when another mispronunciation would transpire. Heaven forbid, not Poor Barton.


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