MANILA, Philippines – Broadcast journalist Karen Davila could not help but air her disappointment over the experience her family had during their vacation in Siargao.
In a Facebook post, Karen, who is vacationing with her kids and husband DJ Sta Ana at Isla Cabana, wrote that when she and the family got to the resort, she immediately booked surfing lessons for her two boys David and Lucas.
According to Karen, the resort contacted Junrey Taoy, a seasoned surfing instructor. He recommended another friend of his, Jocol Valerio, to train David, who has special needs.
"I specifically told Junrey and Jocol, David needed special attention as he has challenges in coordination - being in the autism spectrum. David however is sporty and trains regularly, swims quite well, boxes and runs. Jocol said, almost flippantly, 'madali lang yan, kaya yan.' (That's easy. That's possible.)"
Karen then wrote that her kids trained at the Jacking Horse, the beginners section of the beach, which was crowded with a lot of people. While the kids went to do surfing, she and DJ were just lying down at the beach.
It was after a few minutes when she saw that her son had scratches and bruises.
"Around half an hour after....our son David ran to us BLOODIED, with his rash guard ripped apart and said, 'Mom, I had an accident!'. I have to say, I was in a moment of suspended disbelief. My husband immediately attended to my son, as they searched for a life guard, a medic or a small first aid station in Boardwalk Cloud 9. I on the other hand, started calling out for my smaller son, Lucas who was still surfing on the beach," she wrote.
Karen said that what upset her the most was that Jocol disappeared after the whole incident while her son suffered "crisscrossing abrasions," cuts, gashes, and bruising.
She wrote, "What got me very angry was Jocol Valerio, the trainer - suddenly dissappeared! My husband said after showing him the sari sari store where to buy the Betadine, cotton and gauze, he left them. No one was there to assist my husband or my son who was bleeding! No nurse, no first aid, NO ONE."
The owners of the resort offered to drive them to the nearest hospital. Upon arriving, Karen said she was surprised at that the hospital had no anti-tetanus shots or medicines needed.
She then got the chance to talk with the mayor of General Luna, Jaime Rusillon, and his daughter, doctor Romina Rusillon. She found a few more things of concern, including the lack of a first aid clinic.
"Now, let me make it clear. I am well aware, accidents happen anywhere in the world. Surfing is an extreme sport. But so is skiiing, bungy jumping, paragliding, diving....but accidents can be prevented. And they are in many tourist destinations by putting safety measures and first responders in place," she said.
Karen also said she was shocked by the reasons the mayor told her about the lack of medical facilities and equipment.
"Karen, we're a 5th class municipality and we lack doctors, and we are not ready for the influx of tourists, we were shocked”
"WHAT?! I’m not going to detail... but wasn’t P1.2 BILLION allocated for Siargao to improve infrastructure to boost tourism? Wasn’t a multi million sports complex built?! All this infra and Siargao can’t afford to professionalize its trainers, put full time first aid clinic and life guard for tourists to support the VERY industry that put it’s name on the map?"
She also said that she was able to talk with Nino Barbers, who said the resorts are on their own, with no help from local government units.
"Now, this is ridiculous. Siargao thrives on tourism. Both the LGU and resort owners, businesses are interdependent on the success of the island.
"I call on the DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM to act on Siargao right away... life guards and first aid clinics at the beach ARE A MUST. AN EVERY DAY RESPONSIBILITY. It’s time we professionalize surfing instructors as they do in other countries. Let’s stop being a backyard operation that may cost the lives of people."
Karen said despite the incident, she and her family are still grateful, as her son is safe, all things considered.
"I want to highlight this so action can be taken before anything worse happens. Hopefully, something good will come out of this for Siargao," she said. – Rappler.com