It’s been a year now since the first of the three strong typhoons hit the country. And it is a great relief for me to find out that the town of Dingalan in Aurora Province is slowly getting back to its feet. Just a few weeks ago, my team went back to Dingalan to see how the town has recovered from its worst nightmares named Violeta, Winnie and Yoyong. (Actually, typhoon Yoyong did not bring as much rain but it was a supertyphoon, and the winds were just as scary.)
About a hundred people died in Dingalan when typhoons Violeta and Winnie hit last year. We were there to cover those three typhoons and we stayed in an inn for almost three weeks. The whole town can never forget those days when food were scarce because the market was closed. And even my team and I can never forget that incident when we caught a stray pig swimming in the muddy floodwaters just so we can have something to eat for two days. Thanks to the owner of that pig by the way.
But of course, even if it’s hard to forget a very unfortunate incident, people have to move on. Now the town is back to business. Dingalan Bay may not be as popular as Boracay and one may consider it as just an ordinary beach. But the place has so much potential for tourism. For one, it remains unspoilt. And it’s only about four hours from Manila. There are a few cottages lining the beach, two beachfront resorts and an inn near the municipal hall. Not to mention the freshest catch of tuna and salmon in the afternoon and early morning, around seventy to eighty pesos a kilo, sobrang sulit.
The sad thing though is that the town’s parish priest, Fr. Antonio Evangelio says there are reports from the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force in Nueva Ecija that freshly cut logs are still being transported from Dingalan to Manila. But Dingalan Mayor Jaime Ylarde counters those logs were probably the same ones brought down by the typhoon from the mountains of Sierra Madre last year. Ylarde says the total log ban is still in effect in his town. I hope so, especially since some of the victims of last year’s typhoons are still housed in an evacuation center.
In any case, from now on I hope people will remember Dingalan not as a VICTIM, but as a SURVIVOR. I hope they’ll get a chance to further boost their tourism industry which can in fact rival the more popular beach resorts in the country. The town has become used to cutting trees as its main source of livelihood, but now that mother nature has proven that it has a way of getting back if she’s abused, then it’s about time that the town focused it efforts on eco-tourism.
But I do hope too that Dingalan won’t get too commercialized, to protect its natural beauty.