Wrong or right, Filipinos spent a break at a beach made of dolomite

Published October 19, 2021, 12:12 AM

by Manila Bulletin

Last weekend was unlike any other as Metro Manila residents found themselves frolicking on the beach, waiting for the sunset, and feeling alive as if there was no pandemic. No one can blame them since the majority of people were cooped up in their homes for more than a year. 

That weekend destination is the controversial dolomite beach at the Manila Bay, which is much derided for being a useless project–even a massive waste of public funds–by critics and environmentalists. On the other hand, proponents of the dolomite beach project say that it is just part of a long-term multi-process rehabilitation and that it could “help improve the mental health of Filipinos.” They also reason that it is being done in other parts of the world, too.  So why not in our own Manila Bay? 

Whatever the debate might be brewing for so long between the pro- and anti-dolomite beach must not be in the thoughts of those who were seen at this beach last weekend. Social media feeds were inundated with photos of the pinkish white beach sand and the famous Manila Bay sunset. Those interviewed by a television crew at the beach were all profuse with their praises, with an elderly man in tears saying that this was his first time to see Manila Bay like this after all these years.    

Again, there were critics who said that this was all “for show”– a cosmetic airbrush meant to hide the underlying degradation of marine life and devastating pollution streaming in its waters. At this early, however, it would be too hard–and too harsh–to judge the merits of a dolomite beach; but for the crowd that gathered there, they were just too happy to be there. 

This must be the same sentiment of people who went to Divisoria, Quiapo, the malls, and the parks. Last weekend saw a surge of people going out for leisure activities and shopping. More cars were on the road so there was traffic buildup in some places, something which we “missed” during the lockdowns. More families were dining in restaurants or even going out of Manila to visit Bulacan, Batangas, especially popular destinations such as Tagaytay and Nasugbu. This is all welcome news since that the moribund tourism industry is now getting some life from people spending money for food, transport, and  accommodations, which in turn helps businessmen recoup their investments and brings employees back to their work.   

Amid all these, the scourge of COVID-19 is still not over. Though new cases were dropping below the 10,000 level, it doesn’t mean that we can throw caution to the wind and feel the freedom of pre-pandemic times. Health experts have even warned that hospital beds were still being filled up by COVID patients, especially the unvaccinated. 

The Alert Level 3 of NCR is not a sign that we have more freedom, but more of a boost for businesses to survive this last quarter.  Whether COVID cases would rise once again remains to be seen, but as of the moment, a day at the beach gave a lot of people some semblance of normalcy, and with it, a sense of relief amid the pandemic.