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Essay: A spill of a problem?

September 3, 2006

By Erma M. Cuizon

THE first time we heard of Guimaras was not as a tourist haven but as some lovely lonely island to where a friend went on horseback from the port across wooded trails to look for a relative living there.

And the natives were all fishermen who slept mornings and started out to the magic seas in the afternoon or early evening to move with the strong breeze.

Well, that was years ago. And we never got to visit that lonely place. And certainly not now with the oil spill.

The magic of the place is gone, at least in Guimaras’ coastal town of Nueva Valencia. A nunnery in a tale, which seemed like a dream in its quiet existence, is identified as the convent of the Sisters of Notre Dame, not of ancient fairies in white.

Guimaras is a small island province in Region 6 with five towns occupying a miniscule three percent of the region’s total land area. At this point in time, it’s an island province where, in a town, an oil spill has destroyed its beaches and fishermen are earning their keep not from selling poisoned fishes but from cleaning the beaches of the stinky oil.

It’s certainly a scare of a time for Guimaras islanders—the fishermen and tourist industry—even for the neighboring islands and provinces. A tanker carrying oil for Petron sank just off Guimaras with over two million liters of oil. Solar I is still in the seabed with 1.9 million liters of oil left in the tank as of press time, poised be released into the sea, if the tanker isn’t pulled out or its oil not pumped out safely.

(Click Sunstar, Sept. 3, 2006, for the entire piece.)

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