Secret Lagoon, Santorini and Venice and how long will Hugpong last?


There must be something queer about “that person ” who posted the floating heap of plastics brought by the strong “Habagat” to El Nido’s Secret lagoon. Was it made by one “do-gooder”  to achieve unprecedented likes and a few minutes of fame?  Whatever the motivation, the fact is, El  Nido’s luster has been unfairly tarnished.

If truth be told, El Nido officials lead by Mayor Nieves Rosento, with the support of the residents, are zealous in protecting the town’s well-deserved achievement as one of the world’s best destination – a no mean feat which we are all proud of. Needless to say, stakeholders who depend on tourism for livelihood won’t do a thing to make even a dent in the industry in which their future relies on.

The post, however, underscores once more the potent use of social media in creating images that  could go viral with the speed light. A negative post could undermine the best laid-out plan for a tourism destination, while the marketing pie could crumble pressed down by negative reviews. The industry has to come to grips with social media’s pervasive intrusion on people’s lives as it exacts a higher standard for excellence.

In the recent ASEAN-Korea Capacity Building Workshop held in Puerto Princesa, one of the speakers, Ms. Kang Mi-hee, director for the Asia-Pacific of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, highlighted the floating garbage that was found in Secret Lagoon, together with negative images of Santorini and Venice, as examples of “unsustainable tourism.” While the speaker also showed the LGU’s official statement on the incident, the participants were glued on the images, not even giving a hoot to the explanation of Mayor Rosento. As  Ms. Kang underscored, Korean tourists have the propensity to mine the social media for negative posts of their intended destination, which they will simply drop for another – with better reviews.

As I was a participant in this forum, I took the speaker to task for the unfair statement and for the sweeping generalization which negated everything that El Nido has achieved. Good thing, Director Kang promised she will not use the material in other fora.

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There seems to be a mad rush among political parties to coalesce with Sarah Duterte’s “Hugpong ng Pagbabago.” It was reported that the Marcoses and their Solid North as well as the Villars and their  Nacionalista Party, were among the first to join. There are several local parties, including Gov. JCA’s Partido Pagbabago ng Palawan, waiting in the wings to formally partner with Hugpong. It seems every group with that “Pagbabago” banner wants to join Sarah’s bandwagon.

Not too long ago, the beeline was with the Marcos’ KBL, then with Cory’s LDP, then Ramos’ LAKAS and with PNoy’s LP. Just recently at the onset of the Duterte administration, politicians of all persuasions were making a queue for membership with the ascendant PDP LABAN.  But with the marginalization of the Party’s top leaders who lost the Speakership and the Senate Presidency, the Party has lost much steam and is now whispered in the past tense.

With the Duterte administration saddled with problems beyond its capacity to solve, such as the drug menace, runaway inflation, and of late, the rice shortage which is the worst in recent memory, the President may have reached his tipping point earlier.  It will be apropos then to ask, how long will  Hugpong last?

Nothing could be more definitive of the sad state of our politics than the transactional and ephemeral relations of our leaders with their party and even among themselves. Without a constitutional ban on turncoats, political chameleons have mastered the art changing stripes as fast as they could say “abandon ship”!

Nothing is constant, everything changes. But in politics, the more politicians change, the more they remain the same.

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