Going to Calaguas island in the town of Vinzons, Camarines Norte always means enduring a rough boat ride for two hours. But tourists say the trip is worth it because of the 3-kilometer, "Boracay-like" Mahabang Buhangin beach.
Visitors can enjoy many eco-adventures here such as kayaking, snorkeling, trekking, and rock climbing. Others paint its stunning landscape.
But Calaguas now faces a looming environmental problem: The island practices poor solid waste management, and as a result, wastes from resorts are thrown anywhere.
One resident confessed to throwing garbage to the sea.
“Kasi yung mga nabubulok katulad ng mga mangga, pakwan, kasi mangangamoy yun kapag binabaon yun. Kaya [tinatapon] namin sa dagat,” she said.
As a result, trash has reached the ocean floor.
To address the problem, some business enterprises have created compost pits and incinerators to get rid of the trash.
During a recent coastal clean-up, divers said they collected dozens of bottles and cans in the sea and sold the waste to a local junk shop.
Village chairman Ariel Era said they do not have an area to accommodate the trash from different beach resorts.
“Gusto po sana namin makabili ng lupa dito na pagtatapunan ng basura,” he said.
To address the problem, the provincial tourism office is set to meet with local officials whose towns earn income from Calaguas island tourists.
Residents hope the incoming Environment Secretary Gina Lopez will visit the island soon and offer a long-term solution to keep Calaguas island trash-free.