Nathan Allen, Source: I Dreamed Of This Facebook
Nathan Allen, an experienced American travel blogger in the Philippines, has been declared persona non grata in Sorsogon, a notable province in the Bicol region. This is after he made some not-so flattering comments when he complained about the poor services he received from a local tourism officer.
Allen, who has been staying in the country for a couple of years, has traveled in different provinces including Antique, Iloilo, and Camarines Sur. Last April 14, he published a lengthy post on his Facebook page, “I Dreamed Of This” where he claimed he had a bad experience with a tourism officer in Donsol, Sorsogon.
According to him, he asked the help of an unnamed female tourism officer on where the best place to snorkel is. He said he was led to an area where some waves were crashing over the reefs. Understanding that it is dangerous, he said he asked the officer again, and the officer said, “Yes.”
Allen said he still went snorkeling despite the danger, but was not able to see the underwater life because it was too dangerous not only for him but for the corals as well. He said he was later told by another tour guide that the place is really dangerous, so he said the woman might have not enough knowledge on her job.
“Is the D.O.T. just hiring members of their families who need jobs? I hope not…these people need to ACTUALLY be qualified! They cannot put tourists’ lives at risk like that.” Nathan Allen wrote, expressing his disappointment over the alleged DOT officer. His Facebook page has more than 64,000 Likes.
“Of course this message does not apply to ALL at the DOT, and I do want to say I think the “It’s More Fun In The Philippines” campaign is brilliant and effective! Many D.O.T. employees really do seem driven to help the country succeed.” Allen added, as he praised other regions and Albay Governor Joey Salceda.
But a few days later, DOT Bicol Regional Director Maria Nini-Ong Ravanilla demanded Nathan Allen to apologize for his comments against the agency. She told Manila Bulletin she wants the American travel blogger to write a public apology on his blog, and clarified that, “Donsol Tourism Office is not DOT-managed.”
“Nathan should have practiced the proper protocol of writing the mayor of Donsol with proper introduction of himself, and his ultimate objective of promoting the area,” Ravanilla said, noting that saying that DOT officials as incompetent is unfair. Donsol Mayor Josephine Alcantara-Cruz did not comment on this issue.
On April 23, Nathan posted a photo of a Manila Bulletin newspaper showing the same report about DOT Bicol demanding him to make a public apology. He then posted his apology to the DOT, but noted that it is confusing that the tourism officers he encountered were appointed by the LGUs, not by the DOT.
Nathan said his experience is only minor, but the main issue is that he risked his life because he followed the advice of a non-experience tourism officer. He said he is “saddened that some Filipino travelers laughed when they read that I tried to get tourism information from the official Department of Tourism.”
But early this month, Sorsogon board member Frank Eric Ravanilla filed a resolution to declare Nathan Allen persona non grata in their province, and was approved by the Sangguniang Panglalawigan of Sorsogon. Ravanilla said that Allen’s post might discourage other tourists to visit their place after they read it.
“It is rather surprising — if not ridiculous — that an experienced traveler like Allen, who seems to have gone to many countries visiting tourist destinations and promoting them, would go to Donsol without supplying himself with any information about the place.” Ravanilla said, noting that the statement of Allen can also affect the jobs of the community-based tourism activities in their area.
Meanwhile, Allen’s followers continue to admire his passion in helping to promote tourism in the Philippines. In fact, majority of them agree with his post about the DOT and that the agency should really focus on the real issue. For the persona non grata declared by Sorsogon to Allen, here’s a part of his message.
“I just want to say that, as I have previously clarified, the issues I encountered in Sorsogon were very minor. I was never “angry” about it, as the media is mostly reporting. I only expressed “disappointed”, which is quite different. I was not disappointed by Donsol…only that I felt disappointed when I was in Donsol.” Allen wrote.
“Regarding the separation between the LGU tourism workers and DOT, if you read the posts that followed, I apologized and clarified about the confusion on my end. This was never about Sorsogon, or even Bicol specifically.” He added, noting that he just hope people would see his hard effort in promoting tourism in Bicol and the entire Philippines as well.
Do you think Allen really deserves this kind of treatment?
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