D.E.N.R. and Philippine Congress Debate Fate of Bantayan Island

A new proposal by Attorney Oposa in his continuing effort to restrict building on Bantayan Island, may actually have the effect of robbing residents of this tiny island of their personal property and homes.

Beginning over two years ago, all building on the shoreline of Bantayan Island has been restricted from obtaining a building permit, even for private citizens who own the land and wish to build a home on their own property.

The effects of the proposal before Philippine Congress would be to pass a law that would make the boundary for the shoreline on Bantayan Island, 40 Meters. For more than 40 years the boundary has been recognized as being 20 meters, with all homes and businesses being permitted to build within the 20 meter boundary. Now Oposa wants to take an additional 20 meters from those who own property on the island.

For many property owners on Bantayan Island who own small parcels along the shore of Bantayan Island of 100-400 square meters, this new law will rob them of more than 200 square meters of their personal property. All land of less than 200 square meters will be completely lost. Land of 400 square meters will be cut in half. In many cases, this land was previously deeded to the land owners by the Philippine government and has been held in ownership for more than 40 years.

If this law is passed it will certainly cause great harm to Philippine citizens on Bantayan Island who will be the real losers in this debate.

The purpose of human government, in any country, is to protect the property and homes of the people, not to take their homes and land. In this case on Bantayan Island, the government would be the perpetrator of the loss of property of private citizens and their homes.

What is not being openly stated, is the fact that if this law of a 40 meter water boundary is allowed to pass by those in leadership in the Philippines, the government and DENR will have the authority to bulldoze and destroy all homes closer that 40 meters to the shoreline of Bantayan Island.

The basis for this new law is the fact that Bantayan Island was originally set up as a “wilderness area” and therefore should have had the enforcement of 40 meters applied to all property along the shores of the island. The problem is that the Philippine Government and the DENR has already allowed that boundary to be 20 meters for more than 40 years. By the mere fact that the island is now inhabited by more than 129,000 people who have been permitted to build as close as 20 meters to the shore, the government has established what the boundary is recognized as.

It is unfair, and immoral for the government to now state that they will enforce the boundary of 40 meters, when they have already acknowledged that it is 20 meters for more than 40 years. Everyone on Bantayan Island knows that the water boundary is 20 meters, survey markers are set up all along the shoreline at 20 meters, not 40 meters, being placed there by DENR.

This insistence that the law has always been 40 meters is due to the efforts of one environmentalist attorney (Oposa) who objects to building and development on Bantayan Island shores.

All environmental issues for any island should be balanced with what the effects would be for an environmental law being passed that will hurt human beings. Laws are for the benefit of people first, the environment second. In the case of Bantayan Island, catastrophic harm will be committed against people on this tiny island who own property and homes closer than 20 meters to the shore, should the Congress pass a law changing the water boundary to 40 meters.

As far as Bantayan Island being classified as a “wilderness area”, it is clear by the development of the island as a residential area, tourist destination, and hundreds of businesses being built along the shore of the island, that it has not been a wilderness area for a very long time. With 129,00o people living in homes on an island of just 7 by 10 miles, it is clearly not a wilderness area.

It would be wise to lift this classification from the island, protect personal property and homes that are beyond the existing 20 meters of the shoreline, and allow all future development on Bantayan Island to have restrictions and guidelines  that will protect the shores. How septic systems are constructed, fresh water is acquired, and how homes are built, are the kinds of guidelines that should be implemented. The 20 meter water boundary should be enforced, and allowance made for any homes or businesses currently closer than 40 meters, to be untouched by the government.

Surprisingly, this issue has not been on any Philippine television or radio station, or seen in any newspaper publication. Can you imagine the Philippine government being given the authority to take property and homes from Philippine citizens, and no one knows anything about it?

I would hope that someone with influence and authority will make this issue known to the public in the Philippines. It is for certain than should this 40 meter water boundary be enforced on Bantayan Island, all homes and property in the Philippines will then be in jeopardy. If the government and DENR are allowed to destroy homes on Bantayan Island and take property from private citizens on this small island, then all property and homes on all 7,200 island in the Philippines will be at risk.

Weather Update: Thursday October 20, 2011

Weather on Bantayan Island has been clear and beautiful this past week. With the onset of “Habagat”, the winds have changed to onshore, bringing much debris to the white sand beaches.

The upside of this change in wind direction is that the nights are cool and refreshing and perfect for a great night’s rest if you are near the coast. Last night we enjoyed a wonderful cool breeze until about 3 am when the winds became calm.

Weather for this weekend should be near perfect, with the coming of any future tropical storm far off from the coast of the Philippines. There are two weather systems developing in the pacific that we are watching that could become tropical storms systems in the next week. Both these systems look to move north of Bantayan Island, should they further develop into a tropical depression.

If you are coming to the island, expect to find a lot of debris on the beaches as is normal for this time of year. The pristine picture you have in your mind for Bantayan Island will not be found presently, until the wind and seas cleans the shoreline of sea grass, coconut shells, and trash.

Low tide prevails throughout most of the daylight hours, meaning that the water level is far from the beach, exposing a not so pleasant debris field left over from the last storm. Some may ask why I publish the negative aspects of Bantayan Island. The answer is that I would rather you know what to truly expect when you come to our island, than have you be disappointed once you arrive here. The Island has many positive and wonderful features, not withstanding the occasional debris on the beaches and low tide I mentioned above.

The entire island is worth seeing by scooter or Tri-cycle, and worthy of your efforts to make the necessary journey. Many tourists come to Bantayan Island strictly for the beaches and water, yet miss the other incredible features throughout the rest of the island.

“Amihan” and “Habagat” on Bantayan Island

The beauty of Bantayan Island depends of two variations of weather that are well known to the native islanders. “Amihan” and “Habagat”.

Beginning in late September or Early October the trade winds come across Bantayan Island from the northeast as a cool breeze. Temperatures are lower with little of no rainfall. These mainly easterly winds bring debris from the ocean onshore to the white sand beaches of the island, causing them to be littered with sea grass, garbage from Cebu and just about anything adrift on the ocean.

The beaches begin to taper off and at low tide, the sea grasses on the sea floor near the island are nearly exposed to the air, giving some pretty spectacular views to those who walk out onto the wet sand to view them.

These easterly winds usually change almost overnight beginning in late May or early June. The wind direction then begins to come from the West, taking all of the debris out into the deep ocean and away from Bantayan Island. This phenomenon is called “Habagat” by the native islanders.

During “Habagat”, the monsoon, or “wet season” is prevalent over Bantayan Island. The weather is much hotter, humid and can experience frequent heavy rainfall.

The change from Amihan to Habagat and back again, is caused solely by the change in wind direction.

Amihan: Winds from the East, cooler, more debris on the shoreline.

Habagat: Winds from the West, hotter, more humid, more rainfall, less debris on the beaches.

Whatever time of year you come to Bantayan Island, depending on Amihan or Habagat, Low tide or High tide, the beaches and water can vary tremendously. Most of the beautiful pictures that you see of Bantayan Island that display clear aquamarine blue water, and clean white sand beaches, are taken during “Habagat” when the hotter winds from the West push debris out into the sea and keep the water and white sand free of garbage and debris. These photos are also taken during high tide, as any photo taken during low tide will show a beach emptied of blue water, and the sea floor exposed.

Personally speaking, I have learned to enjoy all the seasons of Bantayan Island and love the rapid, almost daily changes in the beach and water.

On those rare days when the winds are calm, the water is clear blue, and the white sand is pure and clean, those photo’s taken are pristine and priceless. Swimming in the beautiful water and walking on the soft white sand beaches is pure delight.

Beach Placid Resort

I recently completed a few pictures taken at Beach Placid Resort at Santa Fe on Bantayan Island. This is my favorite resort and I highly recommend you book your next stay on Bantayan with the friendly staff at Beach Placid.

The beach out front of Beach Placid is in my opinion, the nicest white sand beach on Bantayan Island. Many of the Bungalows are located right on the white sand just a few steps to the crystal clear water.

The following is a short slideshow displaying some of the beauty at Beach Placid and Santa Fe Beach.

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Your Beach Is Waiting

Whatever you are doing right now, wouldn’t you rather be here on the Beach at Bantayan Island?

The water is 85 degrees. The Sand is the Whitest and Softest you have ever seen or felt. Walk out into the crystal clear aquamarine blue water for one hundred yards and you are only up to your waist deep.

Swim in your own private pool of the most refreshing and wonderful water you can imagine.

The beaches of Bantayan Island are waiting for you… We will save you a beach lounger.

Go to www.bantayanisland.org to find our how you can plan your next beach vacation in the Philippines.