Broadcast journalist Karen Davila could not help but share her disappointment over the accident involving her son while surfing at Siargao. In her lengthy Facebook post on Good Friday, March 30, the ABS-CBN journalist slammed the Department of Tourism (DOT) for apparently allowing resorts without lifeguards, nurses, and first-aid medicines.
According to Davila, she, her husband, and their two sons (David and Lucas) went to Isla Cabana, Siargao last Wednesday, March 28, noting that it was her first time to be Siargao. She said two surfing instructors, Junrey Taoy and Jocol Valerio were tasked to guide her sons, noting that she told them that David is autistic and needs special attention.
“Around half an hour after….our son David ran to us BLOODIED, with his rash guard ripped apart and said, “Mom, I had an accident!.” I have to say, I was in a moment of suspended disbelief. My husband immediately attended to my son, as they searched for a life guard, a medic or a small first aid station in Boardwalk Cloud 9.” Davila wrote.
“What got me very angry was Jocol Valerio, the trainer – suddenly disappeared! My husband said after showing him the sari sari store where to buy the Betadine, cotton and gauze, he left them. No one was there to assist my husband or my son who was bleeding! No nurse, no first aid, NO ONE.” She added, showing photos of her wounded son.
“At the municipal hospital in Dapa, there were no tetanus vaccines available. Mildred had to ask Junrey, Lucas’ trainer to take his motorcycle and buy Tetanus Toxoid & Tetanus Immunoglobin Vaccines, antibiotics and painkillers prescribed by the doctor.” Davila said further, emphasizing that there were no medicines in the hospital.
“Now, let me make it clear. I am well aware, accidents happen anywhere in the world. Surfing is an extreme sport. But so is skiiing, bungy jumping, paragliding, diving….but accidents can be prevented. And they are in many tourist destinations by putting safety measures and first responders in place.” The 47-year old ANC Headstart host noted.
Davila said that the next day, she went to General Luna Mayor Jaime Rusillon and told him the problems they experienced at Isla Cabana. She said that the mayor told me that Dapa is a “5th class municipality and that they lack doctors, and are not ready for the influx of tourists.” Then, she questioned the DOT, and the local government unit (LGU).
“But wasn’t P1.2 BILLION allocated for Siargao to improve infrastructure to boost tourism? Wasn’t a multi-million sports complex built?! All this infra and Siargao can’t afford to professionalize its trainers, put full time first aid clinic and life guard for tourists to support the VERY industry that put its name on the map?.” Karen Davila wrote.
“I spoke with Nino Barbers, one of the owners of Bayud Resort regarding this incident, as he is one of the officers of the Siargao Island Surfers Association and Siargao Tourism Operators Association, and he said, the resorts are basically on their own, with no help of assistance from the LGU.” She added, and called the DOT’s attention.
“I call on the DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM to act on Siargao right away… life guards and first aid clinics at the beach ARE A MUST. AN EVERY DAY RESPONSIBILITY. It’s time we professionalize surfing instructors as they do in other countries. Let’s stop being a backyard operation that may cost the lives of people.” Davila said on the latter part.