Skip to main content

Joseph and that Unforgettable Loboc River Cruise


I was with my family on a river cruise in the famous Loboc river when our boatman and tour guide Joseph made striking remarks and critical questions that every person thinking about development, whether in local, national, or international spheres, must ponder on. Joseph, to most of us in that brief boat ride, embodied every soul that is forcefully and unjustly included in the ‘development’ process, and even those that are, without choice, excluded from its supposed benefits.

“I used to walk along this riverbank to be able to go to school. I come from a barangay near the ‘busay’ (the waterfalls) that we are about to see in a short while”., Joseph told us as we were cruising the river upstream in a motorized banca (boat). “I am the first person in our village that finished high school. Maybe it’s our poverty condition that prevented most of us to go to school, or just the plain difficulty of walking along this river especially during the rainy season.”, he continued. He mentioned that most of the people in his village rely on farming and firewood gathering as means of livelihood, the latter being prohibited by local authorities due to its supposed effects on the environment. He further told us that it was only recently that they were able to have electricity, thanks to the project facilitated by World Vision.


Joseph pointed to us a new addition to the riverbanks he used to walk on. Surprisingly, these were electric lampposts erected very close to river. He commented that these were a perfect mismatch to the scenic appeal of the river and would halt the firefly watching tours that they normally conduct in some select evenings. Besides this, he also pointed out its impracticality, as the Loboc river is noted for its frequent flooding during the rainy season, which increases water level to as high as four feet beyond the normal, just enough to reach around 40% of the height of some posts.

He said that the lampposts were donated by a certain Mr. Chan, a Chinese investor, and were part of the project of the current mayor to illuminate the river banks during the evening and facilitate the evening river cruise. He however questioned the motivation of the donation, as he opined that businessmen, especially Chinese, normally do not put money for plain selfless reasons. “Those mountains (referring to the mountains serving as majestic backdrop to the waterfalls) have many caves. Caves are rumoured to have treasures. Some people might be after them.”, he sadly remarked.

As we approached the ‘busay’, he pointed at one of the cottages in the riverbank near his home, where around 50 people wearing green shirts and carrying ukuleles congregated. He told us that this was the first riverbank entertainment organized by the local people to participate in the booming tourism business and help improve local economy. But two other groups downstream were organized, heightening competition, and even creating conflict between an influential person in the town and a tour guide.

Joseph presented us with a lot of implicit questions through his narrative, with hardly any answers. “Why did it take too long for us to get electricity and too fast for the lampposts to be erected? What role do local people have in the tourism program of the local government? Who is benefiting largely in this tourism business? How do we increase access of local people to education and other basic social services? Who protects local interests when these are threatened by foreign prospectors?” To me, these questions are very important in every community’s pursuit of local development.

Sadly though, one very important question above all else is “Who is hearing Joseph?”

Comments

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ryan Macalandag said…
This is so true. And sad at the same time.

I have been waiting for someone to write about the plight of the Loboc River as it is literally being plundered into destruction by the very people tasked and chosen by the people to defend it.

It is not an uncommon sight anymore to see one too many boats plying the river on any given day. And now this so-called "night cruise". What a stupid idea and I hope stupid ideas like these don't necessarily have to come from stupid people. (Remember the bridge to nowhere and the useless and utterly ugly boat docks?)

More "developments" are being done to further rape the river of its wealth. Kuwang na lang sementuhon ang suba aron maka-agi hasta motor og awto para mudaghan ang kita.

Hay, kaluod.

What made this article inspire me to comment is the fact that it involves a "local ordinaryo" who actually sees this "development" bullshit for what it really is.

Isang bagsak para kay Joseph.
Anonymous said…
our experience with joseph has not missed your analysis, hehehe

how i wish he could have a copy of this post..
Anonymous said…
for once this particular issue came out in a Bohol newspaper (Bohol Standard "Death of a River"), front page at that... cruising on the loboc river will never be the same...
Marc Inno said…
Hi Miko,

Are you from the Philippines? Is there anything positive about the country that BoholAnalysis publishes? Please share it with me at this email address: marc_inno@yahoo.com

All the best,
Marc Inno
Unknown said…
First time to visit Bohol early this year and it was an amazing experience. Being born in the Philippines, I've talked to some of the locals in Bohol and they are in doubt and have a strong sentiment towards the plan of an International Airport in Panglao. Most of these locals does not want their Bohol to turn into like a commercialized and noisy Boracay resort. I wish the citizens of Bohol to have a voice and say to protect their their way of living without intrusion and corruption from their tourism industry. There should be regulations to control abusive visitors or foreigners before it's too late. Bohol should be protected from being commercialized and polluted.

Popular posts from this blog

The Lack of a Backup Plan and Why Ribbon Cuttings Won’t Do the Trick

  I spoke with a friend of mine a few days back, and he told me he is now ready to implement his backup plan – which is to migrate to another country to study a new field and leave all his tourism-related businesses behind.   He told me he did not see it coming. Like with all the others in his sector, he thought that COVID19 is a temporary anomaly and won’t stay for long.     But now, all his businesses are closed, and his cash reserve is bleeding. Despite the many times that the Provincial Government of Bohol announces re-opening with ribbon-cutting events here and there, tourists did not come by truckloads.   They came like summer rain – very few and far in between.     The province’s economic recovery plan is ill-advised and short-sighted.   We all know we relied primarily on tourism to fuel the local economy despite the fact that the sector is the most affected by the pandemic and will continue to be so in at least 3 to five years based on conservative

What is the Church's Business in the Dauis Renaissance Program?

Introduction This paper presents an analysis, in financial perspective, of the details of the agreement entered into by parties 1) The Bishop of Tagbilaran, 2) Beatriz Susanna Zobel de Ayala, 3) Dauis Renaissance Company, Inc. and signed on June 24, 2008 in Dauis, Bohol, Philippines. As the agreement is vague in some respects, figure computations were interpreted on the basis of its implications to financial statements of the “Dauis Renaissance Company”, both currently and prospectively. The paper is structured in three parts. The first section analyses the facts of the agreement and its implication on assets, equities, and net income projections. The relevant provisions of the agreement are cited side by side with the analysis. The second section represents the general independent appraisal of the author on the “Dauis Renaissance Company”, taking collectively all the facts mentioned in the first section. The annex section presents a list of important financial terms which are defin

The Problem with Representative Democracy

The Bohol Chronicle reported today (27 December 2009) that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan has given a go-signal for the governor of the province of Bohol to sign a joint venture and development agreement (JVDA) with Oasis Leisure Islands Development Inc. (OLIDI) to reclaim at least 450 hectares by building 5 islets at Panglao Bay. The provincial lawmakers believed that the proposal was advantageous to the government, as it will not spend any single peso for the project, from its inception to implementation. Interestingly, the Bohol Chronicle reported that Vice Governor Herrera stressed that "Several discussions have been made and the SP met with the proponents many times. Concerns of each board member have been satisfactorily answered." I was appalled. It seems that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan members have not read the proposal in its entirety. I wonder if they could answer questions if reporters will ask them for the details of the proposal. I wonder