[Updated] Tourists visiting Coron are complaining about the town’s inattention to dumped waste, which they have regarded as an eyesore before embarking on island tours from the reclaimed area.
Coron, one of Palawan’s most popular tourist destinations, has been thrown into the limelight of travelers who can’t help but note that, despite the P200 environmental charge received from them, the town appears to be having waste disposal problems.
One of the tour guides who takes visitors around the island town, Japs Daco, can’t resist being concerned about what they’re saying. He turned to social media to share images of the trash his guests encountered in an area of the reclamation between Barangay 3 and Barangay 5 while going on their island tour on April 3.
“Hindi po pangba-bash o paninira. It’s actually a fact. See the evidence? Sabi po ng mga guests nagbabayad sila ng environmental fee na Php200 per person upon entering Coron premises, pero bakit daw po ganyan ang tatambad sa kanila bago sumakay ng bangka going to island tour?” his post said.
“Kayo na pong bahala sumagot at magsabi ng inyong concern. Isang concern citizen lang po at tour guide lamang na nakakatanggap ng direct complains galing sa mga guests,” he added.
They’re trash generated by tourists, according to Daco, which the boatmen leave in the area after returning from island trips, assuming they’ll be collected later by the concerned barangay or municipal office.
He added that there are no dumpsters in the area that might be utilized to store trash, exacerbating the problem as junk accumulates.
“Ang sa akin ay hindi pagba-bash kundi reminder lang kasi from the guest mismo ang tanong sa akin. ‘Kuya, di ba nagbabayad naman po kami ng environmental fee na 200 pesos, pero bakit ganito?’ Yong mga ganoon ang tanong nila,” he said Monday in a separate interview with Palawan News.
Daco claimed that he informed Barangay 5 captain Lani Lungay even before April 3 about the situation, and she took action by having her area’s side cleaned.
However, he said that the photos he shared were taken in a location between two barangays.
“Yong sa na-post ko, as in between Barangay 3 and Barangay 5. Marami talaga yon, pero yong sa na-post ko yon lang ang napiktyuran ko,” he said.
“Wala kasing drum or ano man lang kaya nilalagay lang muna nila sa gilid — kaso kinakalkal ng mga aso kasi may pagkain. Kahapon (April 3) ko lang kuha yon,” he added.
For a tourist destination known for many things, like Kayangan Lake, WWII Japanese shipwrecks entombed off the coasts, white sand beaches surrounded by turquoise waters, and island escapes, Daco said his guests’ impressions hit a sensitive spot for him, who takes great pride in Coron.
Now that the visitors have returned, he said the waste is building up, which should not be the case.
“Noong wala pang turista, marami na rin ang basura kasi mga taga Coron rin mismo yong iba na kapag kumakain doon — kasi pinalawak na yong lugar — mga plastic cups, bottle, balat ng tsitsirya, cigarette butt, bote ng alak, yan ang mga basura,” he said.
“Nagbabayad nga naman ng environmental fee kada turista, sabi nga ng guest ko noong nakaraan, ‘Para naman kaming hino-holdup sa airport nito’. Wala daw pasabi, pero pagdating sa airport naniningil sila ng P200 per person,” Daco added.
Tour guides, tour operators, and boat crew are all aware of the deplorable garbage situation in the reclamation area, he said.
Daco is pleading with the responsible municipal government officials to safeguard Coron from negative publicity that could harm its international reputation.
“Bago kami umalis kahapon (April 3), yong dadaanan ng guest ko na magto-tour, pinangdampot ko pa yong basura. Ang gusto lang namin talaga ma-regulate yong basura,” he said.
CATE brings matter to LGU
Calamianes Association of Tourism Establishments (CATE) president Chin Fernandez, who was informed of the matter, said Tuesday that the problem is already being addressed by the solid waste management office of Coron.
CATE is a non-profit organization made up of Calamian businesses that cater to the tourism industry’s needs.
“According to the mayor’s secretary (Harryette Pe), this was addressed by the solid waste management office yesterday (April 4),” he said.
“The LGU will put drums where trash from incoming boats can be deposited. Then the garbage trucks will pass by in the afternoon when most tour boats arrive,” he added.
Fernandez added that the reclaimed area, which was previously not included in the usual garbage pickup routes, will now be serviced on a regular basis after consulting with Coron municipal tourism officer Kim Ablaña and solid waste head Engr. Jess John Arevalo.
“According naman to Engr. Arevalo, hindi nila regular route yong part na yun ng reclaimed area kasi nga walang mga bahay doon. But it will be a part of their route from now on,” he said.
Coron has been having a steady stream of visitors, with an average of 500 every day, he said. From March 1 to March 28, the municipality received over 14,000 visitors, all of whom were tourists.
Flights ferrying tourists to the town are now five—three from Cebu Pacific and two from Philippine Airlines from Manila. In addition, there are also twice-weekly flights from Cebu and those that come from El Nido to Coron via Airswift and Sunlight Air.