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.

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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Beach Placid Resort on Bantayan Island

It doesn’t take long when you arrive at Bantayan Island to discover where the best resorts are located. When my wife and I spent our first five days here we had done quite a bit of research on the Island to see which resort was the best fit for us.

We chose Beach Placid Resort because of it’s close proximity to the beach and waters of the Island. We wanted to be able to walk barefoot out of the door of our room and be on the beach. We were not disappointed, this is exactly what Beach Placid is about, being on the beach.

Upon arrival at the Port of Santa Fe, we were picked up by the driver from the resort. It took only about 5 minutes to travel the short distance from the port of Santa Fe to the welcoming desk at Beach Placid.

When we arrived the first thing that we noticed was that the grounds of Beach Placid are quite peaceful, simple and uncrowded. We were met with a warm smile at the open air counter just to the right of the resort, towards the back of the entrance road. It only took about 5 minutes to get our key and the porter was already carrying our single bag to our room.

As we followed the young man we immediately noticed the beautiful white sand of Alice Beach that is the frontage for Beach Placid resort. The tri-plex where we were staying has a blue room, yellow room and a pink room.  The Blue room is where July Ann, the wonderful Filipina who greeted us at check in, placed us.  The Blue room is on the far right as you are looking at the three rooms from the ocean.  As it turns out, the blue room is the only one of the three in the tri-plex that has a hot and cold shower. The other two rooms have just cold water only. Most Filipino’s do not use hot water in their homes as they have grown accustomed to using just the luke warm tap water for their showers, dish washing and the washing of heir clothes.

The incredibly beautiful white sand stretches out for about 75 yards from the front of the tri-plex rooms before it kisses the crystal blue waters of Bantayan Island. Looking to the right of the beach we could see the port of Santa Fe not far down the beach where the ferry had landed just 10 minutes before. The Aquamarine blue waters shimmered before us whispering an invitation to get my fins, mask and snorkel and dive into the inviting blue water.

We dropped out belongings off in the room and our flip flops and stepped our tired feet into the luscious sand we had lusted for with our eyes a few minutes before. Oh, it was instant therapy. As we approached the blue water and walked into the surf, the water was incredibly warm. I would guess that it must have been at least 85 degrees or warmer. As we continued out into the surf, the waveless waters soothed our tired bodies and invited us ever deeper into the blue paradise.

The sand on the shore is amazing enough by itself, but the sand on the bottom of the sea is even more incredible. I pushed my big toe into the soft pasty sand and realized that this was the finest and softest sand I had ever felt anywhere in the world.  It feels like wet confectioners sugar with the added feature of being slightly granular. I reached underwater and pulled up a specamin for further examination. I rubbed the creamy sand between my fingers and was tempted to taste it because it looked good enough to eat.

Walking more than 100 yard now into the surf the water was only at my waste and still as clear as a crystal clear glass of drinking water. Placing the fins on each foot, the mask and snorkel in place I pushed off into the water softly floating along in the calm water. Below me dozens of beautiful colored tropical fish, the soft sandy bottom of the beach, and lush green sea grasses just up ahead.

I was in paradise and every cell of my body knew it. This was going to be the vacation that I had dreamed of during that 15 hour trans pacific flight on Philippine Airlines from LAX to Manila the week before.

In my next post I will tell you more about this first stay at Beach Placid Resort and how much we enjoyed our time with them.

Rob Robinson