SANTA FE, Cebu—Locals and tourists here are being urged to preserve the town's environment, particularly the long stretch of white sands and pristine waters known as the "Little Boracay of Cebu."
As tourists flock to Santa Fe on Bantayan Island, Mayor Jose Esgana expressed apprehension over the environmental impact of the influx of people.
The expression, "Bantayan Island sinks every Holy Week" may be an exaggeration, but records will prove that there is a sudden surge of tourist influx during this occasion.
Based on local tourism data, about 100 tourists visit the town daily, which spikes up to 1,000 a day during the Holy Week.
Esgana warned that, if measures aren't taken seriously, the area could be courting disaster.
"We have to invite entities to help us. We are open for a private-public partnership from drainage to wastewater treatment," he said.
Learning from Boracay, Esgana warned establishments of possible business closures if they don't comply with laws.
The local government just passed a septage code, an ordinance that will ensure that every establishment is able to properly dispose of waste.
Within the year, Esgana said local officials and other agencies will inspect and review local business practices, including technical know-how on garbage composting.
Esgana said he believes there should be an updating of the easement rule on commercial and residential structures located near the coast.
"In Barangay Talisay, coastal erosion is quite very fast. In fact, there are two parcels already na nawala," Esgana said, citing adverse effect of climate change.
Esgana said pollution could become widespread if barangays are lax.
"Until walay masuko nga residente kay naay nanlabay og basura, dili ta makaingon nga ready na ta," Esgana admitted.
(Not until a resident will get mad because someone just threw a garbage, we cannot say that we are ready.)
Out of the 10 villages in Santa Fe, 3 of which are located on islets, no concrete material recovery facility (MRF) has been in place, but they are slowly adopting the waste-segregation policy.
The influx of tourists prompted local officials and authorities to conduct a beach sweep in the crowded coastal areas and reprimand guests who mounted tents within 20 meters of the shore.
Operators of motorized bancas and yachts illegaly docked in the swimming area were told to move out.
Garbage, mostly plastics and bottles, has also caught the attention of the roving team.
Business owners were told to maintain clean surroundings.
Tourism officer Melanie Loyao said visitors are expected to show discipline. "Clean as [you] stay, clean as you go," she said.