Cesar Gorillo .
I JUST came from a three-week vacation in my beautiful islands of Siargao in Surigao del Norte to attend to the reunion of my San Nicolas High School Batch 70-71 and my observation of the island is one of tremendous shock, economic-wise.
The reason is that hundreds of capitalists from all over the Philippines and the world have flocked to the island in search of areas to buy for resort business. The biggest businessmen of the Philippines involved in malls and subdivisions have their men scouring the entire islands in search of available areas to be converted into resorts, subdivisions, private enclaves and whatever businesses they can think of noting that the island is becoming a top tourism find that can easily rival the overcrowded and polluted Boracay. I have been to Boracay and the beaches there are world class. But that is just there to it. In Siargao, the beaches are also world class, but there are many other tourist attractions such as the Magpupongko Natural Pool in Pilar, the Suhoton Cave in Socorro, the island hopping in Daku, Guyam and Naked Island in General Luna. And the best of all: Surfing Capital, also in General Luna. And that is not all. Going to the other end of the island are the Sugba Lagoon in Del Carmen, the Denaville Resort with its tons of taklobo natural pearl display in Sta. Monica and the Pacifico Surfing Area in San Benito.
This is the reason why the magnetism of the island has drawn million of pesos available from capitalists who want to cash in on this very lucrative tourism business. If you hear of former farmers and fishermen receiving P200 million in land sale that used to be planted to camote and banana, that is just ordinary news. The going price there has gone up from P20,000 per square meter to P35,000 after a Japanese businessman with a resort in Boracay Island purchased an area which he found too cheap because in Boracay, the going price there is P100,000 per square meter. Even ordinary real estate salesmen there can offer beats in the cockpit arenas at as high as P300,000 because their commissions ran into millions. One farmer did not know what do with his money because he decided to purchase three Toyota Fortuner after he received P400 million for his two-hectare farm located beside the beach. I hear even the Central Bank is surprised at the millions in deposits of the two commercial banks with branches there.
Now, the question is, what should the government do to spare these millions of pesos in sales of poor farmers from being wasted in gambling, non-productive endeavors and useless spending? The DTI and the Central Bank should come up with seminars on financial management and proper investment planning because definitely these millions of monies earned by these financially illiterate farmers and fishermen will be gone in a few years and Siargao Island will be in the hands of these multimillionaire-capitalists while the original owners of the lands will be in penury and might end up begging. I heard of some instant millionaires buying everything for their once poor children such perishable things like private cars, passenger jeeps, motorcyles and spending lavishly on their fiestas, birthdays and anniversaries as if there is no tomorrow.
We should be very happy that these poor farmers have received super premium prices for their once arid camote plantations. But the danger that these millions will be lost in a few years if not invested wisely always lurk in the future. It is therefore a must that the government should provide its role in protecting these precious millions from being wasted. I know of a friend who won the lotto for P28 million. After he received his prize, he went into a crazy orgies of mahjong, cockfighting, running for municipal kagawad and letting doubtful debtors borrow his money. It never reached three years before he ended up in jail for a borrowed amount he could not pay because he issued bouncing checks to cover his borrowings. His creditor never knew he had long gone bankrupt.
We cannot do anything if these Siargao landowners are now in the frenzy of selling everything they have.
And the government should not stay as mere audience to these millionaires who might end up as future beggars.