Caragasan beach should be maintained, calling DENR, cty gov’t PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 17 April 2016 14:20

Table Talk

BY Mike S Apostol

 

Two weeks ago, I drove my car to the West Coast to visit some long-time bosom friends and Subanen chieftains to ask for their support for a friend vying for a city council seat in District 1. for the first time and who needs help as an independent candidate. He deserved my little help and I know he can be a very good city councilor. Hardworking, humble and very low profile, an ideal character for a fine city official. Rene Enriquez Salazar, from Tumaga Barangay, who was once a Filipino employee at the US Embassy in Manila and was a regular visitor at Zamboanga City Hall being a staff assistant of District 1 Congressman Celso L. Lobregat, on his first term before he became City Mayor. My plan was after the friendly visit was to buy fresh fish and vegetables at the flea market of Caragasan, beside the highway fronting the beach.

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To my dismay, Caragasan beach is in a sad state at present. Except for the permanent structures there owned by businessmen in the area, other structures like the beach cottages, sari-sari stores are in a sorry state. Even the tables of fish and vegetable vendors are likewise in a sad state. Many flea vendors sell their fresh fish and vegetables right on the roadside ground with a little piece of plastic table cloth or jute sack to display their wares. It is very, very sad to think that decades ago, even fresh meat and “pork lechon” are sold in that beach, and those carinderias blare their music loudly from videoke or karaoke machines.

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What made me sad so much is to see the beach almost empty of sand,  and big stones are protruding because of too much sand quarrying by the locals, selling it by the sack, to buyers and contractors from the city. Locals found a new business to make up for their loss of income, because Caragasan beach is almost forgotten. Beach goers prefer to go to the government Golf Beach or La Vista Del Mar, which come complete with facilities and bars but no fish and vegetables are sold, only soft and hard drinks.

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Many years ago, when there was no Golf Beach and La Vista Del Mar, and the alternative public Cawa-Cawa beach, Caragasan was the favorite weekend destination. Every weekend, as early as 7 A.M. the beach and the cottages are almost all taken by beach goers and almost all are with their entire family members. Caragasan is over crowded with people from all walks of life. Students and barkadas on an excursion, some celebrating special occasion at the beach. Rich and poor families are all found enjoying the sandy beach of Caragasan. Today, a beach goer cannot anymore walk freely  or run conveniently along the Caragasan beach because the sharp hardened coral stones lined up in the might hurt your bare feet, especially children.

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It is indeed very sad to reminisce the old Caragasan beach, the only popular beach of Zamboanga City aside from the tourist destination Sta. Cruz island. Those were unforgettable days when a weekend was spent in Caragasan to enjoy the sea breeze the whole day with no fear of lidnappers or bandits prying on you. Even the rich and elite found time to entertain their guests at the Caragasan beach and even lovers were seen lovingly in one of those beach cottages that were still well maintained by their owners. So many sad and happy stories are heard in Caragasan beach escapade and sometimes unfortunate fatal accidents, occurred along the winding road going to and from the beach.

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Caragasan Beach is part of the city’s modern historical and transformation development and the city government should find time to preserve that beach for posterity reasons. Also the local office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) must not leave any stone unturned in apprehending those “environmental thieves” who took away precious sands from the beach that took centuries to accumulate in the shoreline and convert it into a beach. The sands from the sea of the Moro Gulf is also to protect the shoreline from eroding. Nature gave Zamboanga City a means to protect her shoreline and unscrupulous locals and businessmen must never be allowed to harvest them for their business and personal interest. This is absurd and preposterous. DENR must help protect nature lest they share the bigger guilt of environmental destruction for neglect.

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Scoop: Expect that in a few years to come, the highway in Caragasan will be narrower because of erosion if they continue to gather and collect sand from the Caragasan beach. The city should not wait for that day to come because it will be a “thorn” and burden for everybody. The beaches of the city do not need people but the people need those beaches for their survival. Agree or disagree.