Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Travel Guides: Spratlys

"It is noteworthy that the Philippines has receded more and more from the radar of American foreign policymakers as China’s economic weight becomes more and more a tantalizing prospect for American business. Liberal capitalism and totalitarian communism may not be strange bedfellows after all. As for the Philippines and the United States, so much for shared values and historic ties. The lure of nostalgia—and Hollywood—may be irresistible, but the Philippines needs a douse of shocking realism to wake it up from its stupor. And that shock comes with the Spratlys."

Philippine Daily Inquirer, Editorial
Toughening Up

The tiny, scattered islets off the coast of Palawan might be in hot waters lately. But the thrill of riding the notorious flying coffins should be enough reason to make this trip worth taking.

While the journey alone is just but an icing on the cake, the Spratlys offer so much more. Sand banks in the middle of nowhere, mangrove forests lie untouched for generations, and snapping seabirds guarding their newly hatched chicks should be a good sideshow.  Yet, we encourage you to take a closer look. There's more to see in these provocative islands of the west. 

The islets were once military outposts to the soldiers of the republic. Disposable patrol boats who have seen their best days during WW2 were allowed to set course for shallow waters. Once grounded on the coral reefs, its marines would then occupy the outcrop. However, because of the need to establish a permanent presence, would-be colonists were hauled from Palawan. These fisher folks settled in one of the biggest islets, Pag-Asa to build a community destined to be forever bonded with the sea. 

A one-way trip to Pag-Asa would take a week by boat from Puerto Princesa. The boat would then be tossed and turned in open, and sometimes crazy waters of the "West Philippine Sea." But if time is of the essence and your presence is needed back in the civilized world, a chartered plane from the Philippine Air Force is suggested. 

Lodgings are scarce in the islets, but you can always sleep under the stars. Consider yourself lucky if you can befriend the locals and they invite you into their homes. Potable water may taste a bit salty and essential items such as toiletries and snacks are hard to find.  

Pag-Asa Island

The rewards of visiting the Spratlys can be counted with your fingers. But if you love the frontier - so much - that you are willing to swim across unresolved international borders and step foot on islets claimed by several nations, then this is your destination.

Listen to soldiers as they share stories of how they find joy in boredom. Say hello to Vietnamese guards as they come to trade a pack of President cigarettes for a bottle of Gin Kapitan. And if you're unlucky - but bold enough to approach a passing Chinese warship with its bristling guns pointed at your boat, capture these priceless moments in pictures for the world to see. In Spratly's everything is unpredictable - like its weather - and who knows you might return home a celebrity, and with the adventures of Spratlys to tell.

To celebrate Bentusi's roaring success in our Travel Guides Writing Project. May stable (at matrabahong) raket ako hanggang October! Woot Woot!

Entry NOT to be taken seriously.


^travis said...

Always true to form and with matching theatrics, a pretty-in-pink official has successfully managed to hug the headlines on this issue.

But we're kidding ourselves if we believe we will succeed with our claims armed with "our version" of the truth alone. The perceived economic stakes are too high and our foes are formidable- Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and China.

Me thinks, shared sovereignty is better. Then explore for oil and natural gas. Tapos hati-hati sa income. Instead of doing nothing.

The Constant Bonsaist said...

no offense travis, but i highly doubt that China would agree with you on the collective/shared oil and gas exploration.

The Chinese government "supports" this - but would you really believe this?

^travis said...

TCB, no offense taken dude. Just shared one option that I think would be acceptable to most of the claimants.

And I totally agree with you. China's support is just pure lip service.

Ginawa nating forum on international relations ang blog ni idol. So sorry.

the green breaker said...

haha, seseryosohin ko tong entry mo kuya. lol

may nakatambak sa aking unpublished stash na tungkol sa spratlys eh, simula nung mapanood ko sa TV5 yung report na tungkol dun.

I want to go to Pag-Asa island, but, ang presyo naman! haha. kamusta ang mahal.

wanderingcommuter said...

sorry for being pessimistic.

but come to think of it, even if the country will be able to get hold of spratlys, how will we be able to harvest its resources? and even if we will be able to, how will the government manage it?

i am for joint venture. well, hopefully china will consider.

Clarence said...

I agree with wanderingcommuter in his pessimism on what benefit for us Filipinos if we have Spratly’s but nation doesn’t benefit from its resources. Don’t we have an abundance of natural resources gone to waste thanks to corruption and utter disregard for nature? I’m sure another foreign company – and their mother country – would harness these resources and have the lion’s share so to speak.

But this is an issue of sovereignty. Of our will as a nation to impose our rights – and privileges – over other’s nations whims and caprices. Yes we do not have the military or economic might to fight for what is ours, but are we not the same people that stood up against tanks, armed soldiers and military choppers?

We gave Sabah away already even if we have all evidence that it is ours – heck the Malaysian government still pays the Sultans of Sulu the rent for Sabah for crying out loud – I hope we don’t give any part of our nation away anymore

Mugen said...


I doubt if China would like to share its resources. As far as I know, they want it theirs and theirs alone.

As for us, let's face it. We have no warships to call our own, no disciplined navy to speak of. No Air defense to protect our interests.

Read my next entry. This should be what we're doing right now.


Let us remember Malampaya. As far as whispers go, the project is a roaring success. I'm sure that with enough transparency and accountability with investors, we may be able to pull such accomplishment again.

Lets give Sabah to the Malaysians. If we can't assert our control over ARMM, the gall of us to occupy an entire state.

Mugen said...


Hindi ko alam na open for tourist ang Pag-Asa island. Hehehe. Magkano daw?


I really doubt if shared sovereignty would work. China won't allow it.


Constant Bonsaist

Chinese Lip Service. Parang sarap na sarap ang gobyerno natin dun ha!

Clarence said...

@mugen, nope haven't forgotten Malampaya.. just that i - an ordinary person - doesnt seem to feel any of its effect ;)

on your comment to Constant Bonsaist on Chinese Lip Service.. madami siguro sa gobyerno ang mahilig sa chinito nyahahahaha

Mugen said...


No wonder, we have good relations with Vietnam. Hahaha!

Sabagay, as an ordinary person, we don't really know the effects of Malampaya.

PS: Hindi ka ordinary person no! You should know these things more than we do.

Désolé Boy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.