Traveling taught me not to wholeheartedly trust weather updates and Google Map. Needless to say, in various occasions, they failed me. So I began to become more observant with the skies and practiced estimating distance over time with due consideration to individual pacing. Yes, traveling has taught me how to apply some of the sciences I despised when I was younger. But traveling also taught me that not everyone is capable of developing this skill (most especially if they don’t want to). For many, locating the sunrise and sunset seemed to be a strenuous task and estimating the time of arrival can be as difficult as explaining to a kid how did the baby get inside the mother’s tummy. Stupid analogy, but I guess you get the drift.
The other day, I was privileged to join a trip to Southern Cebu. The original plan was to visit the whalesharks and the nearby island of Sumilon. From the accounts of this blog, you’d know these two activities do not interest me anymore; but for some reasons, I pursued with the trip. By three in the morning, we were already heading south, in fear that we might get stuck in traffic (Minglanilla gave a prior notice of road closure). Moreover, boss would like to make sure that we’d get one of the earliest slot for the whale watching given with the 12 o’clock cut off time. I was wondering why we needed to go this early. I remembered four years ago, we went to Oslob by bus at nine but were still able to do the activity. Maybe boss was just paranoid. But times have changed and even though we arrived at sixty-thirty, we were on the 95th slot. It was a Holy Thursday – a time of penance and reflection – but the street of Tan-awan looked like a gathering, a fiesta! The limited space of the streets and sidewalks plus the growing number of visitors reminded me of how crowded Boracay was. Obviously, this was not what I saw several years back. Boss was right.
We then proceeded to Sumilon Island after. But we weren’t the only ones who were following such itinerary. After whale watching, most guest were offered an island hopping tour or a quick visit to Tumalog Falls. Therefore, the people you see during the whalewatching activity are most likely the same individuals you’ll swim and take photos with in Sumilon Island and Tumalog Falls! And that’s one thing I wasn’t prepared for. For someone who has been to a number of densely populated beaches, the mob was overwhelming. But well, you can’t complain about the crowd if you’re part of it.
Had I been in the usual tourist’s mindset, I could have despised the activity. I neither joined any but by merely observing and talking to locals, a lot of things dawned unto me. Unlike renowned eco-tourism sites, there was no limit on the number of guests flocking in the area. The common business attitude protrudes that: the more guests, the greater the income, still holds true. Most fishermen were already working as boatmen and guides. Who wouldn’t want a thousand (or more) income a day? This is why even with a lot of protests from environmentalists, such activities still continue up until now. But how long can they keep this? Obviously, this isn’t sustainable.
Surely, traveling allowed me to put into application the theories I’ve learned in school. But most importantly, it also taught me to weigh things before speaking my mind out, to put myself in the shoes of other people. In my newsfeed right now, I see lots of people complaining about the traffic and the number of people gathering on beaches and mountains. They then point fingers to bloggers for such outcome, the way most people blame politicians for every failed government program. It is easy to make comments and debate about this, but ultimately, this won’t answer the problem. It won’t pose a fair solution to the locals who are totally dependent with their resources and the environment who’s suffering for this. There are lots of contributing factors to look into before administering another law, another ordinance – thanks to bureaucracy.
Anybody can be a social media influencer. And once posted online (be it a blogger or a local of the area), you can never retract it – just like the words we say when we are caught in anger. This is the reason why I select the information I write on the blog (you seldom see itineraries and how to go tips) and I no longer encourage people to follow the track I’m taking – most especially on how inconvenient it is. But I will continue giving you insights. I’ll continue sharing my thoughts because I believe that no one should have the monopoly of everything. Part of adventure is discovering. There is no thrill when everything is spoon-fed. Until then, I hope you still follow where your heart leads you and that you take part in the conservation of the environment. There is so little that we can do, but big things come from small beginnings right? Right.
See you on trails.