Tomorrow morning, September 20, the 25th season of the widely-followed reality television series Survivor US will premiere. After so many years of faithfully watching the program, one can only have enough of it, but I know Filipinos will be closely watching the show this season.
Dubbed Survivor Philippines, this is actually the first time that the reality series will be carrying a strong Filipino branding. The three tribes who are in the competition to outwit, outplay, and outlast one another are each named after easily-recognizable Philippine animals – Tandang (rooster), Matsing (monkey), and Kalabaw (water buffalo).
The series was shot in Caramaon, in Camarines Sur, in March this year. The rugged islands of this remote municipality have actually been utilized already as home to other marooned Survivors. Prior to the US show’s filming, other international Survivor franchises already had Caramoan as their stunning backdrop.
Serbian, Israeli, Swedish, Danish, and French “survivors” were the first to experience Caramoan’s ruggedness. Other franchises followed suit. The French did a comeback, so did Israel. Before the Americans came, Survivor India had just wrapped filming there.
While Caramoan’s beauty had already been revealed to the rest of the world, Survivor Philippines will definitely boost tourism in the country. Aside from millions and millions of Americans who will be watching the program, you can expect million other viewers from around the world to follow the series as well. The popularity of the American show cannot be denied.
I hope the buzz that the reality series will generate will really benefit the people of Caramoan. In the two instances that I have been to the islands, a number of locals I have talked with expressed dismay over the slow development in town in spite of the possible big profit that the town earned alone from all the Survivor shows filmed in Caramoan.
When I first came to the island in March 2009, at the height of Filipinos’ sudden strong fondness for Caramoan’s rugged mountains and pristine beaches after Survivor France shot there, the sentiment was that only very few, select people benefited from the tourism boom.
I came back March this year. While the town rapidly changed, with all the inns and hostels sprouting and packaged tours being offered left and right, I was surprised to know that the same sentiment expressed three years ago still echoes to this day.
Yes, businesses have sprung out of the locals’ initiatives, some pointed up. But what about the kind of progress that shall come from the government which undeniably profits from all of these, another local asked.
The Bikal port, which is the jump-off point to the islands, is still in its original deteriorating state even when it is obvious that the local government has the money to improve the port, some locals reasoned.
In Donsol last year, I had the chance to talk with the director of Survivor Israel. He said Caramoan’s beauty was perfect for the show’s character. While filming had not been easy, he was amazed with the kind of congeniality extended by the locals to their group. “They balance Caramoan’s ruggedness and roughness,” he told me.
I hope the people of Caramoan get to enjoy the kind of reward and life that they deserve. After all, before the world turned their spotlight on these islands, before all those “survivors” got marooned and played for their lives, they have been the ones surviving Caramoan’s exquisite beauty.
- Photograph taken in March 2012, enhanced using a “warm vintage” effect on Adobe Express app.
- Posted via WordPress for iPad.