Written by Martin
Edited by Joaquin
Visual by Kailani
During the Philippines’ long period of quarantine, the government has received backlash and criticism from citizens for its problematic response to the pandemic. In early September, a new project gained traction nationwide on social media for its absurd nature. Was it yet another new bill, or an announcement of increased testing? Filipinos instead were greeted by the government’s passion project, heaps of white sand surrounding Manila Bay. With this in mind, it is safe to say that the brand new “white sand project” is a waste of time and resources, especially during a period of widespread unemployment and recession.
From the limited information provided by both government institutions and news outlets alike, it can be gleaned that Manila Bay’s white sand was extracted and imported from a quarry in Cebu. The project itself, said to cost 390 million pesos, was brokered by a government institution, the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR), as a project to boost tourism in the country’s capital. The so-called “white sand” deposited along the bay is said to be constructed from crushed dolomite. Despite the DENR’s supposedly good intentions and a show of overwhelming support from Manila mayor Isko Moreno, the same level of appreciation was not reciprocated by the city’s residents. The bay’s white-sand project was met with harsh criticism, with most users on social media websites citing the development as useless and impractical.“Do we really need this right now?” a Facebook user commented, “Our countrymen are jobless and hungry!”
Perhaps the most disappointing effect of this decision is the effect of the harvested dolomite on Filipino ecosystems. As sentiments of disapproval on social media quickly extended, numerous reports of damage to marine life were reported by non-government organisations. According to the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, marine ecosystems near the “white sand’s” source had dwindled due to dolomite particles that fell into the sea during transportation. As a result of this, nearby corals have been damaged due to severe siltation, caused by the poor management of the dolomite.
While Manila Bay’s “white sand” project may improve tourism, and the Philippines’ overall development in the future, the decision made by the parties involved is one that fails to acknowledge the growing concerns of recession and unemployment during this ongoing pandemic. The Philippine government should allocate more of its time and resources for more important programs, instead of vanity projects like Manila Bay’s white sand.
Baizas, Gaby. “Is This Necessary? Netizens Raise Concerns over White Sand on Manila Bay.” Rappler, Rappler, 3 Sept. 2020, http://www.rappler.com/nation/netizens-reaction-white-sand-manila-bay.
Ecarma, Lorraine. “Marine Life Dwindling in Cebu Town Supplying Manila Bay’s White Sand.” Rappler, Rappler, 21 Sept. 2020, http://www.rappler.com/nation/marine-life-dwindling-cebu-town-supplying-manila-bay-white-sand.
Subingsubing, Krixia. “Manila Bay ‘White Sand’ Tested Anew.” INQUIRER.net, 11 Sept. 2020, newsinfo.inquirer.net/1334000/white-manila-bay-sand-tested-anew.
Tiangco, Minka Klaudia. “Mayor Isko: Manila Bay ‘White Sand’ Project to Boost Tourism, Business in Manila.” Manila Bulletin, 23 Sept. 2020, mb.com.ph/2020/09/23/mayor-isko-manila-bay-white-sand-project-to-boost-tourism-business-in-manila/.