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Karen Davila narrates ‘traumatic’ Siargao experience

/ 06:23 PM March 30, 2018


News anchor Karen Davila recounted on her Facebook account a “traumatic” experience she and her family went through while vacationing in Siargao Island on Friday.

Davila and her family members–husband DJ Sta. Ana with two sons David and Lucas–flew to the island last Wednesday, where they were billeted at Isla Cabana resort.

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The news anchor immediately booked surfing lessons for her sons. Siargao is a known surfing destination.

The resort contacted a certain Junrey Taoy, a known seasoned surfing instructor “whom the resort often outsourced for guests” wanting to learn the basics of surfing. Taoy reportedly recommended his friend Jocol Valerio to train Davila’s older son David.

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Davila said her eldest son, although sporty, needed special attention “being in the autism spectrum.” But Jocol replied, “Madali lang yan, kaya yan.” (It’s just easy, he can do it.)

Her sons went to train at a surfing spot locally known as the Jacking Horse, a major surfing area for beginners.

After half an hour, David returned bruised, bloodied and his rashguard ripped apart.

“‘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. I, on the other hand, started calling out for my smaller son, Lucas who was still surfing on the beach,” Davila wrote.

David suffered “bleeding from crisscrossing abrasions witha deeper gash under the right rib” apparently from hitting the rocks from shallow waters, which Davila says left her speechless.

His chin was also bruised and covered with blood, while his right hand had cuts similar to a small knife.

Davila said Valerio suddenly went away and disappeared after showing to her husband a place where to buy first aid medicines.

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The news anchor expressed disbelief that there was no first aid and the first hospital was located almost an hour away.

“A couple [of] minutes after, the owners of Isla Cabana came with a van, presumably after hearing the news from the locals. Owners Dingdong and Mildred Pabillore offered to drive us to the nearest hospital, which was at Dapa….would you believe, some 45 minutes away by car! Imagine if we had to take a tricycle!” Davila said.

While the doctors and nurses on duty were “helpful and attentive,” there were also no tetanus vaccines and medicines available at Dapa hospital.

Davila later spoke to the Mayor of General Luna, Jaime Rusillon and his daughter Dra. Romina Rusillon.

The mayor explained that Siargao is “a 5th class municipality and we lack doctors, and we are not ready for the influx of tourists, we were shocked.”

She also spoke with Nino Barbers, one of the owners of Bayud Resort, who explained that the resorts in the area get no assistance from the local government.

Other things the news anchor learned was that “anybody who surfs in Siargao can train in Siargao” even with no professional certifications.

There were also no single life guard on the beach. “This is crazy. The rising mecca of surfing, with hundreds in the water – and not one life guard to save tourists from possible drowning or injury.”

Safety did not seem to be a priority, she added. “The attitude of some instructors on Cloud 9 is, “ay nasugatan”…. and stare at you like it’s absolutely natural. No panic, no rush, just local chit chat like it happens all the time, and it’s not that big a deal.”

“Once a town is sold to tourists, the primary responsibility of both the national and the local government is to ensure the safety of the tourists,” she wrote.

She called 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,” she said on social media.

While the visit was “traumatic,” Davila said she was still grateful. “My son is safe, others may not have been so lucky. Thank you to all the doctors, nurses and people who helped us along the way.”

INQUIRER.net is still trying to contact and get a reaction from the instructor as well as the owners of the resort. /jpv

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TAGS: Karen Davila, Siargao, Surfing, tragedy
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