World’s finest beach closed over violations
By Melvin C. Gascon
TUGUEGARAO CITY—A stretch of white sand beach in Sta. Ana town touted as one of the best in the world has been shut down by authorities following its operators’ failure to comply with regulations, according to the administrator of Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza).
Lawyer Raul Lambino, Ceza chief, said he ordered the operators of the beach at Sitio Nangaramoan in San Vicente village to put up sanitation facilities and observe building construction and environmental laws.
“We have to close down the beach to put things in order. And this will remain closed until we are able to rehabilitate it,” he said.
The beach is a 500-meter strip of white sand, 13 kilometers from the town center of Sta. Ana. It is part of a string of coral beaches on the northeastern coastline of Cagayan province facing the Pacific Ocean.
Best in the world
In 2013, an international cable news network declared the beaches of Sta. Ana and in nearby Palaui Island as among the best in the world. These beaches became the shooting locations of two seasons of the US reality television series “Survivor” in 2014.
The beach in Sta. Ana has become a popular destination for residents for picnics, swimming, snorkeling and other outdoor activities. The area is surrounded by forests on the foothills of Sierra Madre range.
It is the preferred destination for beachgoers who cannot afford the costly entrance fees in adjacent white-sand beach property in Anguib.
The closure order was issued following a consensus among officials of the town government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and resort owners.
“They understood that [the temporary closure] was for their own good. We do not want a repeat of the bad experiences in other areas where government regulations failed to check over development,” Lambino said.
The sporadic construction of houses along the beach in Nangaramoan had been a problem that the local government faced for years but which it tolerated for the sake of beachgoers, said Sta. Ana Mayor Darwin Tobias.
“But their number has grown at such an alarming rate and the area has become too crowded that access to the site, especially in times of emergencies, has been difficult,” he said.
“Many of them built houses along beach areas that are prone to surges of the sea, or on mountain slopes that are on the path of landslides.”
He said the local government and Ceza will pool funds to construct a uniform row of cottages for visitors, and to help owners of about 60 homestay inns whose livelihood will likely suffer from the beach closure.
Tobias expressed hope the area will be re-opened in time for the onset of the summer season, when foreign and domestic tourists are expected to troop to the beaches.
With the closure of Nangaramoan, tourists in the meantime will have to contend with the steep entrance fees at nearby Anguib and Pozo Robo beaches, which are privately-owned.
An adjacent white beach resort in Gotan is owned by former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, where he has reportedly been spending most of his time after retirement.#
Published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer: