Monday, November 21, 2011

Left Behind

Only in recent years has it become obviously and painfully clear to many of the people here in Lianga that that if there was one industry that could help the town lift itself out of years of economic apathy and stagnation, it would have to be foreign and domestic tourism. I remember just a few years ago one foreigner friend gazing in wonder at the thundering surf at one of the local beaches, his bare feet half buried in the white sand. "My God!" he exclaimed. "You live in a tropical paradise yet you don't make money out of it.  How can you all be so blind?" He then shook his head in exasperation and disbelief.

For decades now, town leaders here have looked towards some form of industrialization as Lianga's ticket to economic progress.  Memories of the heyday of the logging industry in the 1960's when the Lianga Bay Logging Company was the engine powering the town's then rapid growth and economic expansion remained obstinately fixed in their collective minds.  There were grandiose plans to reactivate the logging franchise which had folded up in the 1970's.  The plans included proposals for a seaport (two were built but both remained unused to this very day) which would hopefully turn Lianga into a shipping and marketing hub for this part of Mindanao.

None of these proposals in the wake of present day economic realities, despite all the rhetoric, effort and money wasted on them, amounted to anything significant and it was only recently when the obvious became, well, glaringly apparent.  Build on the town's strengths.  Capitalize on what it already has.  And what it had, by the grace of Mother Nature, were plenty of was white sand beaches and spectacular seascapes that local and foreign tourists could not get enough of.