Light up Mayon Volcano?
By Virginia Jasmin Pasalo
ACCORDING to the proponents, the justification for the Majestic Mayon Lighting Project is “to increase the tourist arrivals in the Bicol Region”, which is “in line with the Duterte Administration’s national goal in providing more jobs and sources of livelihood for all Filipinos specifically for all Bicolanos,”
Majestic Mayon has started a petition in change.org citing this reason, and justified it further by enumerating “the iconic landmarks around world being lighted up at night in a wonderful display of lights and sounds, such as Niagara Falls in New York, Table Mountain in South Africa, the Great Pyramids of Giza, Eiffel Tower of Paris, Colosseum of Rome, Statue of Liberty of New York, and Burj Khalifa of Dubai.” The petition was addressed to the following agencies: Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Tourism, Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), and the Tourism Promotions Board TPB). The petition mentioned that the project is the initiative by Ako Bicol Partylist and Albay Governor Al Francis C. Bichara.
As of 30 January 2020, 7:41 a.m., the petition has gotten 576 signatures. It was started seven months ago, and revived recently, based on a one-hour observation of the movement of those suddenly signing. Expect it to rise with so many paid trolls, exponentially, if and when they want to create the impression that “the silent majority supports it”.
I did not sign this petition.
First, where is the feasibility study for this project? In an FB post, JR Abdon Balde mentioned that the cost to the government is PhP 500M. Is that just for the installation? What about the cost of power and administrative costs to maintain the project over time? How much will the project earn, if any? What is the Return on Investment (ROI), and in how many years will it be able to yield? Is the return on investment commensurate to the expense? What are the details of this project? What is the projected increase in tourist arrivals in concrete numbers over the span of five years? What is the projected increase in employment? Who “owns” the company proposing the “light”?
Second, and more importantly, Mayon has attracted tourists because it is Mayon Volcano. People want to see the volcano in its quintessential beauty, its perfect cone, and its explosive eruptions. It is good to see it during the day when its full majesty is visible, and especially at night, in the darkness, with the singular light of the moon and the glittering stars.
The majesty of Mayon Volcano is in its mythology, which in itself is as “as heated as the heart of the peak”, with a plot around the undying love of Magayon and Pangaronon, embracing their tragic end. There is the inner light. It is free and does not cost P500M.
She sits, a dainty maiden
waiting for a lover
between the seething sun
and the steaming anger
of another lover
gathering speed to blow
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