|El Nido Municipal Hall|
What a coincidence. Here I am in El Nido and I find this little town shares the same foundation day as Davao City. That's today, March 16. It's a twin celebration that I'm happy to write about. What's odd is how older El Nido is at 96 years compared to Davao's 75! While I do miss celebrating fiesta in Davao City, it's my enduring love for her that certainly will never cease - never mind the current mayor's abominable behavior last year that made her look like a hoodlum.
|Davao City Hall|
When I was in Davao City last week, I literally walked down memory lane as I trekked the sidewalks of San Pedro Street, the city's main old drag. In those days before malls invaded what used to be quiet parts of town, San Pedro Street was where everyone goes to see and be seen. The entire length was dotted with shops and businesses. And of course, that's where one finds the San Pedro Cathedral and the City Hall.
|San Pedro Cathedral|
Now things are different. The winds of change has brought Davaoeños into bigger things, bigger developments. I think that's pretty much the reality in many parts of the Philippines. There are two sides to this, both good and bad. How villages, towns, cities, or an entire country adapts to these changes can make or unmake it. Too much development is a question often tied up with another pressing question - the exploding population of the Philippines.
|San Pedro Street|
I say this in light of what I see in El Nido as well. It's the gateway to what is undoubtedly one of the world's best seascapes - the enchanting Bacuit achipelago. In 1979, a diving boat was stranded in an inlet one evening and divers awoke the next morning to find themselves surrounded by these towering limestone islands. The word spread and hardcore backpackers soon followed. Sleepy El Nido, formerly called Bacuit, soon got the attention of the world.
|Need I say more?|
Now El Nido is hardly sleepy anymore. Tourist arrivals are in the upswing. Hotels, hostels and guest houses are on the rise. Even the roads are improving a lot - the remaining rotten section between Taytay and El Nido is currently being paved. And just last month, a new bus service called RORO began offering a much better and more comfortable service that connects El Nido to Puerto Princesa in the south.
As I waded through a huge crowd of foreign tourists and locals celebrating the eve of the town's fiesta last night, I was hoping things will not change abruptly for El Nido.The allure of its glistening islands is there but once the luster of unchecked development sets in, that's a sad story I would not be happy to write about.
Happy fiesta Davao City and El Nido!