As expected, nothing good came out of Nickelodeon's announcement that it plans to put up an underwater resort and theme park in Palawan.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez was one with social media in denouncing the proposed 400-hectare, below-sea-level attraction that is slated to open in 2020.
"I will never allow the corals to be harmed; that's what we have, that's our wealth," she was quoted by ABS-CBN News. "You can't kill the corals for a theme park, no way. We will not allow anything that will damage the environment. No amount of money is worth the well being of our farmers and fishermen."
The hashtag #CoronIsNotBikiniBottom (referring to the setting of Nickelodeon's Spongebob Squarepants TV show) was also created in support of the cause, along with a signature campaign by Executive Director and Co-Founder of Save Philippine Seas Anna Oposa.
In an exclusive interview with FHM, she expounded on the environmental implications of Nick's concept park.
"It will disrupt marine ecosystems," Oposa outright said. "I doubt the developer can find a space that big with no marine life, which means they will build over, on, and around it."
Being the country's "Last Frontier," Palawan, and all its "endemic, endangered species" should instead be protected for future generations, according to her.
Coron, in particular, "is one part of a larger ecosystem. Many parts of it are still well-maintained, so let's keep it that way. It's home to birds, marine mammals (like the dugong), healthy coral reefs, and so much more."
She adds, "The benefits that these give us is difficult to put a price tag on, but whatever it's worth will be much more than an underwater theme park."
Oposa believes that building the water park will send the wrong message "that we don't care about our environment, and we'd rather make a few people rich than conserve it for the enjoyment of the Filipino people." She is also upset with the impending exclusivity, given that few can afford to visit such lavish venues, whereas currently it's more accessible to the public.
While the amount of damage is hard to predict, especially with the lack of Nickelodeon's construction plans, she imagines the development to go something like this: "They would trawl the seabed to put hotels on it. Which means removing or moving coral reefs and other marine ecosystems."
Oposa urges everyone who highly opposes Nickelodeon's eco-destructive venture to sign the petition, and if possible, write letters to the government agencies and developers involved.
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