Out-of-bounds tourism” would be an apt term for the incident involving an American tourist who was arrested by police last week for staying with a minor in a beach resort in Sta. Fe town, Bantayan island.
Vigilant beach resort staff reported his presence to social workers. Not surprisingly, the parents of the 12-year-old girl, a sampaguita vendor, said they consented to letting her stay with the American “friend”. He had helped send the children to school. Was there more he did?
In last Monday’s story the tourist denied abusing the girl and said he planned to take a vacation with her and her family. He expressed admiration for Filipinos and said he even planned to stay in Cebu for good were it not for his predicament.
There’s much for him to explain, aside from his relationship with a family whose young daughters met him while sending sampaguita flowers on the street in Cebu City.
A medical examination by the Sta. Fe health worker found a laceration in the little girl’s private parts.
That alone is basis to act with real skepticism toward the conduct of an adult Caucasian male, who checks in a resort with a school-age girl who is not his daughter, sister, niece or anyone related by blood or morally proper ties.
While some could sense the desperation of the girl’s family in defending the “friend” who has helped their daughter and siblings go to school, there are many also shocked by the decision to offer their daughter’s company to a virtual stranger.
During the Easter break, Sta. Fe town figured in a controversial bikini show staged during the Holy Week that resulted in charges filed by the Capitol against the promoter and several starlets.
These two incidents are significant in light of the Department of Tourism’s promotion of Cebu as the prime tourism destination in the country.
The business community and the public at large are certainly not crowing about stories of foreign or domestic pedophiles enjoying the benefits of arms-open-wide tourism.
Remember Pagsanjan town in Laguna? That place knows a thing or two about sexual predators masquerading as tourists .
If Cebu is being overprotective today about the dignity of its women and young girls, congratulations. We’re much smarter now after going through the rough learning curve of sex tours during the unmonitored Japanese invasion of the 1970s.
It is noteworthy that the Sta. Fe beach resort where the American stayed was the one who reported the unusual guests to the authorities.
It shows the resort management had a conscience to go with its entrepreneurial spirit. Police were able to “rescue” the child the day after the report.
We have to know clearly what kind of tourism Cebu wants. Hospitality has its limits and it’s not to be given at the cost of innocent children.