Philippines Tourism – The Good and Bad

Small Lagoon at Bacuit Bay, Palawan
Small Lagoon at Bacuit Bay, Palawan

During my recollection of a recent trip to Samar Island (one of the provinces least traveled in the Philippines) and after reading the article below, when it comes to retirement and relaxation, I can admit that I am a convert to the belief system that less is more. While the Philippine government’s ambitious tourism plans have done more than just pave new roads and construct needed infrastructure to support the luxury tourism market, it has created thousands of needed  jobs and ecotourism opportunities to the thrones of many less fortunate people. And the consequence of this ambition has helped put the Philippine’s economic growth rate in the spotlight and second only to China in 2012. But the result of such a rapid pace to capture foreign travelers and their money is likely becoming a threat to the environment and the archipelago’s natural beauty.

Bacuit Bay, Palawan
Bacuit Bay, Palawan

The following article by Wells Tower of the Wall Street Journal chronicles a westerners take on two Philippine islands – one pristine, the other overpopulated – and how too much too fast may not be a good prescription for sustaining the economic growth recently enjoyed.

WSJ – 14 Mar 2013
ASK THE AVERAGE WESTERNER what he knows about the Philippines and the reply will likely touch on Imelda Marcos’s shoe collection, or Manny Pacquiao’s knock-out record, or the Bataan Death March, or other things that don’t…. read entire article

After reading about the transformation of Boracay, I’m beginning to realize that the adopted slogan of Samar – Discover Samar, before others do, is making me both anxious and nervous; anxious to get there soonest, and nervous that rapid growth and expansion can destroy all that which I am looking forward to. Call me selfish, but personally, I like Samar just the way it is!

8 thoughts on “Philippines Tourism – The Good and Bad

  1. am comming to Samar shortly for a few days,where is a good,but not to expensive place to stay in or arround Allen????

  2. Hi Bernie, there are several choices of lodging in Allen and it really depends on your needs. Usually when I travel there, I just need a air conditioning, a bed, and a descent shower, preferably with hot water. There are both small hotels and Pension Houses to choose from in Allen. Here is a LINK that lists some of the accomodations. Let us know how you enjoy your stay in Samar. If you get a chance, don’t miss out on Biri and the rock formations. Have fun!

  3. I agree and understand about the tourism and progress in the Philippines….Im so glad that it does bring opportunity for the natives there to have work…and have a life that is comfortable…. but those of us who see the beauty of its untouched beaches and other places are fearful that some it could be lost. I feel a freedom in Calbayog…to visit the beaches free and not see any commercialism that only supports the very rich. l care about the poor…they have less…but they have more kindness and care for each other. I hope after Calbayog become more modern… it won’t lose it’s beautiful friendly and smiling faced Waray people… May they be preserved for people like me to see their respect is still somewhere available.

  4. True, Boracay has become overdeveloped and overcrowded through the years. But then, the area of this island is only 1032 hectares. Samar, on the other hand, comprises three (3) provinces. Really a big island compared to the tiny Boracay. I love Eastern Samar, particularly the town of Guiuan. I heard that there’s an ongoing move to develop its nearby Calicoan Island for tourism. I could only hope that both the local and national government will take care of Samar’s treasures—the caves, the beaches, to name a few.

  5. I totally agree. If Samar builds it’s ecotourism trade from both a proactive and conservative approach, it can be a win-win. All to often, money is the prime motivator and is the cause of hasty development. Only time will tell if they can learn from the mistakes other developments have made.

  6. I have been living on and off in Samar for 25 years now. I have not seen many changes in all that time. True the roads have been improved but that was begun long before PNoys tourist push. Even now they are not in a fit state for mass tourism. the main airports are classed as feeder airports with just turboprop A.T.R.s serving Manila.. Catbalogan airport does not even have flights. The journey from Tacloban to Samar although much improved is still a nightmare and to travel on beyond Calbayog takes much time and discomfort.
    I would think that Samar is still decades away from mass tourism in the interior we still have villages 4 hours hike from the nearest road and the ever present N.P.A. would frighten most tourists.

  7. Hey corjo, good to see you found your way here. I recognize your name from your comments on other sites. I didn’t know you were from Samar though. Which part of Samar are you from? I agree that Samar is largely un-visited for some of the reasons you mentioned, and in a selfish way, I kind of like the laid back, slow growth modus operendi. But, I do feel that with Samar’s abundance of natural beauty, and ecotourism becoming the front of mind of many the young Pinoy and traveler of today, Samar will be discovered. I hope to be well planted by then! Haha. I believe Calbayog, with it’s new northern port and several new malls will bring more attention to this area with further expansion outward into the provincial areas. I’ve travelled the National Highway north from Calbayog last year and asided from some bridge renovations, the road is said to be much improved compared to in years past. Looking forward to settling in somewhere around the August time-frame. Hope you keep visiting and sharing your knowledged about expat living in Samar. Thanks.

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