There is always a tinge of nostalgic sadness every time I think of or write about El Nido. For El Nido is where I was born and where I grew up amidst its lush mountains and verdant seas. It was a place where townsfolk were laid back, caring and valued. It was indeed a paradise, but naive as we were, we have not reckoned early on that such pristine beauty could be a harbinger of both the best and the worst in human nature. Then the tourists came, first in trickles and then in droves and finally, in a sea of humanity that drowned what was once an idyllic little town by the bay.
What went wrong? It may as well be said that for lack of vision, the paradise was lost. The town’s succession of leaders ought to have anticipated the influx of tourists and must have put in place a master plan for the burgeoning destination. But the Mayors, notably, seemed to have missed this out and instead did patchwork here and there resulting in a planner’s nightmare. Worse, the lack of political will is apparent, even today, in the brazen violations of environmental laws, zoning and building regulations. Poor Mayor Rosento and her team – they are practically the catchment bin of the follies, mistakes, failings and of the combined sins of all past administrations in El Nido.
Even DENR cannot escape being blamed. As the lead agency in environmental protection, it has failed miserably in implementing its mandate. Either they are blind or indifferent is an inexcusable neglect of which there is a reckoning in law.
PCSD, of course has lost much of its luster and clout to even matter in the narrative. Sadly, it has become a ghost of its past under a director who seems to be forever in a state of daze and stupor.
Now DENR is all over town leading a task force to clean up the mess, much of it regrettably, of its own making. Let it not be said though that everyone else is blameless. We are, in different degrees of omissions – and slumber.
Mea culpa. I left before the fire burns bluest.
AND BY THE WAY: Governor Jose Chavez Alvarez has already found a capitol site for the future province of Oriental Palawan. It’s on a 30-hectare property in Poblacion. Roxas, the capital of the new province. The government center will contain a 10-hectare sports facilities and a modern convention center. The Governor is also looking for sites in the future Western and Southern Palawan provinces for their respective government centers.
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