Many years ago in Mexico
City, while waiting for the train that was going to take me to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, I casually asked the men
seated on either side of me what their opinions were about where I would be visiting. The first gave a lengthy speech, pros and cons. The second simply said, “Go and find out for yourself.
Having lived the last 16 years in a semi-full Philippine anchorage located at the bottom of Negros Oriental, within hazy sight of the island of Mindanao, both men’s advice continue to advise me when I consider the threat potential for something similar happening here.
The kidnappings of foreigners occur primarily where the perceived wealthy tourists are located—high end resorts and/or marinas
. Admittedly, all ‘yachties’ (as cruisers here are called) are thought to be rich, but since very few kidnappings are unplanned, I believe that within this area where I live it would become quickly apparent how slim the pickings would be for their effort because:
1) There are only four resorts located around the entrance to the bay, of which only two might draw wealthier clients
: Antulang Resort, located atop a very steep climb to reach it from the sea, or the less pricey but more vulnerable Cove Sands, situated across the bay’s entrance on a secluded beach, mainland side. The other two—KooKoo’s Nest, on the ocean front beach of Antulang Peninsula, located just before entering the channel into Port Bonbonon/Tambobo Bay, and Nigel’s Tongo Sail Inn, tucked behind the bay’s reef, inaccessible by boat—both cater to less desireable lower-end visitors (local and foreign).
2) There are no marinas
for yachts, only a very large anchorage reached via a channel shaped similar to the neck of a crookneck squash. Twenty or thirty boats in varying states of use and occupancy, or total abandonment, are located there. Unless kidnappers knew specifically of a wealthy yacht—or even the more remote
two!—that were visiting, the logistics of trying to capture occupants would be daunting. But possible, I acknowledge.
Luc & Jackie Callebaut, aboard Sloepmouch, who were in the Davao marina during the November kidnappings, recently arrived in Port Bonbonon with some good suggestions. They have initiated a very sensible Emergency
Preparedness Plan for the community of cruisers and locals, collecting cell phone
numbers for Military and Coast Guard personnel, from cruisers on boats, plus designating a specific channel length for alerting each other—whether the emergency
is terrorists, typhoons, medical
or simply observing something questionable.
Personally, having weighed my own options (which are limited until Pilar can again sail), the security
patrols by military and Coast Guards that I see here are reassuring, so I continue to enjoy and appreciate the very friendly nearby communities of Siaton and Dumaguete, having NO fears walking anywhere at night in those towns. I would still encourage anyone to come and see for themselves—Steady, himself, might just find not only some day sailing, but possibly the boat he’s been wanting for himself.
That said, though, I admit to fears arising from the very keen awareness of graver threats than kidnapping: that of fundamentalist ISIS Muslims who are willing to die during the higher glory of killing infidels for their new-found state in Syria. Slaughtering an anchorage full of foreigners and sinking their yachts would make a dramatically easy target for a speed boat loaded with men
& machine guns
…but “I’ll think about that tomorrow…
” because right now the weather
is glorious and I have work to do on my boat.