Living in southern NCR automatically draws us to beaches further south and the nearest ones are in Batangas. And since this province is pretty well-known for its dive spots like Anilao, we have been pretty confident that anywhere in Batangas should be satisfactory. When we were younger, my mother used to take my sisters and me to Aguila Beach in Mabini. The beach was okay. The water was clear enough but instead of sand, there were corral-pebbles. And there were plenty of boats and balsas to avoid. Then three years back we went to one resort in Laiya which is owned by someone that my Tito knew. The beach was fine. It was called Puting Buhangin – but the sand was black. It was still okay though because the water wa still clear (as clear as it could get given the dark sand) and the beach was adequately clean.
Unfortunately, those we visited these past two years had brought nothing short of disappointment for us. Admittedly both outings lacked proper premeditation but that does not necessarily mean we had to encounter disasters each time. However, the magic of photography, coupled with stale reputations/notions have always led us to the wrong destinations.
Last year, we opted to explore Nasugbu, it being one of those areas we were yet to venture into, and having left an impression to our un-updated minds of glorious beaches. It was pretty matunog some years past so we where thinking that we couldn’t go wrong wherever we land there. Yet to be safe, we browsed the net for resorts that we could check into and we found this El Cacar Beach Resort that seemed like a pretty exciting place to be. But no. It was still a public beach and maintenance seemed like a thing of the very distant past. The rooms were nowhere at their peak condition and the only saving grace was that there were lots of channels in the Cable TV. Other than that, it was an expensive P1500 for a day visit or P2500 for overnight in their De Luxe Aircon room. And as their website would readily tell you, they offer boats to go to other coves because that’s the only way you could have an enjoyable beach experience. Their own beach front was a polka-dotted black land of trash. The water was so murky the whole place just resembled a big sandy canal. We had to pay another P800 for a boat to take us to another beach so we could do some decent swimming and finally enjoy ourselves.
This year, not having learned any better from our previous experience, we still went to Batangas to have our annual family outing. This time, we went to Lemery. Having heard from obscure sources that the beaches there were good. So off we went to Lemery, despite again the lack of preparedness and research, we still went ahead. This time, we landed to a far-off resort called the Rico Beach Resort. I left all the burden of research to my sisters and this was what they found. It’s really a wonder how these resorts could put up websites and claim outstanding services and guarantee satisfaction when they can hardly fix their bathrooms. My mother had to complain about the status of their public restroom before they had it cleaned up and ready for human use. And being in a far-flung place, there was no way to get any source of nourishment unless you bring your own kitchen when you go there. And the beach. It was not very different from that in Nasugbu – sand still black as dirt, trash still everywhere and the water still as murky. But at least there, my mother, sisters and niece were able to swim a bit at the beach front, they just had to avoid the cluster of guests that permeated one spot. I no longer endeavored to swim and soil my clothes and inflict suffering to myself by rinsing off in the bathrooms so I just stayed at the table with Moche, chatting the day away. By 1pm, we were out of that place.
Granted, both beaches were public beaches and one should normally not expect anything great whenever the term “public” precedes a noun. However, both beaches seemed to be really famous, receiving lots of guests who all (except us) seem to know what to expect and were pretty darn prepared when it came to food. So why was it so difficult to maintain their facilities? To maintain their beach front? I surely could not fault anyone when it came to the color of the sand but PEOPLE are responsible for the cleanliness of the beach. At the very least, resort owners should be the ones most conscious of the state of that strip of beach that lures clients from all over the country. They should enforce strict rules against littering and make sure that their guests do not leave behind trash that will only uglify and pollute the beach. Not only are those pieces of trash a big turn off, but they are also obviously very detrimental to the ecosystem that exists in that area. Furthermore, they could also be the source of whatever disease-causing bacteria that could breed in that community.
I am pretty sure that there are plenty of other beaches in Batangas that do not deserve this kind of trash talk. But our beaches are really God-given gifts. We have one of the longest coastlines in the world and our beaches are really world-class. We should not be wasting them away because of plain laziness or apathy. We need to love and take care of what we have.
So, to those resort owners at Nasugbu and Lemery, I hope you start caring and start doing something. Soon.