- Broadcast journalist Karen Davila shared on social media their horrible experience in Siargao
- Her son had an accident while surfing and was injured
- Karen narrated the awful ordeal their family went through trying to get help for her son
Karen Davila and her family went to Siargao for the Holy Week break, but instead of a leisurely vacation, the journalist and her family suffered a terrible ordeal on the surfing island.
Karen shared their traumatic experience through Facebook on the afternoon of March 30.
The broadcaster said she and husband DJ Sta. Ana flew to Siargao with their two sons, David and Lucas, on March 28, Wednesday.
They stayed at Isla Cabana, a popular resort with white sand beach front. Eager to have an authentic Siargao experience, Karen booked surfing lessons for her sons through the resort.
Isla Cabana outsourced Junrey Taoy, a seasoned surfing instructor who often coached the resort's guests.
The family then went to Boardwalk Cloud 9, the popular surfing spot in Siargao, where waves are strong and world-famous.
Karen said Junrey recommended his friend, Jocol Valerio, to train her older son David.
She said she "specifically told Junrey and Jocol, [that] David needed special attention as he has challenges in coordination - being in the autism spectrum."
She added, though, that despite that, David is also sporty and trains regularly in swimming, boxing, and running.
Karen, however, thinks the instructor didn't really take her precaution seriously. She wrote in her post: "Jocol said, almost flippantly, 'madali lang yan, kaya yan'.
Her kids trained at Jacking Horse, the surfing area for beginners. Karen and DJ, meanwhile, lounged on the beach.
But after half an hour, David ran back to them bloodied and with gashes on his body. His rash guard was ripped apart.
"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," said Karen in her post.
When the whole family was finally all together, Karen was able to take a complete look of her son David.
"I WAS SPEECHLESS. My son’s whole chest, was bleeding from crisscrossing abrasions with a deeper gash under the right rib, clearly from hitting the rocks on the shallow waters, his chin bruised and covered with blood, his right hand in cuts like that from a small knife," wrote Karen.
To make matters worse, the trainer, Jocol, disappeared after taking her husband to a sari-sari store to buy Betadine, cotton, and gauze.
"No one was there to assist my husband or my son who was bleeding! No nurse, no first aid, NO ONE," said an angry Karen.
Karen acknowledged that the owners of the resort drove them to the nearest hospital, which was 45 minutes away.
But their ordeal wasn't over yet, Karen complained that the hospital didn't have tetanus vaccines or other medicines immediately available.
Junrey, the other trainer, had to take his motorcycle to buy the vaccines, antibiotics, and painkillers prescribed by the doctor outside the hospital.
"SO THIS WAS OUR FIRST DAY IN SIARGAO. Major accident involving a minor. No first aid treatment at a busy tourist surfing site. Missing surfing trainer who ran away. Long drive to the hospital, with no medical supplies. UNBELIEVABLE," wrote Karen.
For the rest of her post, Karen pointed out that she talked to the Mayor of General Luna, Jaime Rusillon, and his daughter Dra. Romina Rusillon, to raise alarm bells over the setup in the popular tourist spot.
She raised concern over lack of basic services for a world-renowned tourist spot, particularly: professional certifications for surfing instructors, life guards on the beach, and first aid clinic or trained medical personnel at the beach.
"I am well aware, accidents happen anywhere in the world. Surfing is an extreme sport. But so is skiiing, bungy jumping, paragliding, diving....but accidents can be prevented. And they are in many tourist destinations by putting safety measures and first responders in place," said Karen.
She added: "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. PERIOD."
The veteran journalist didn't buy Mayor Rusillon's excuse that the town, as a 5th class municipality, is not ready for the influx of tourists.
"WHAT?! I’m not going to detail... but wasn’t P1.2 BILLION allocated for Siargao to improve infrastructure to boost tourism? Wasn’t a multi million sports complex built?! All this infra and Siargao can’t afford to professionalize its trainers, put full time first aid clinic and life guard for tourists to support the VERY industry that put it’s name on the map?"
Before the end of her post, Karen called on the Department of Tourism to act on Siargao right away.
She said she hope something good will come out of her post for Siargao.
Karen Davila is the anchor of late-night newscast Bandila in ABS-CBN. She also anchors ANC's Headstart.
Her husband DJ Sta. Ana is the head of operations for TV5's News5.
Karen is an advocate for people with special needs, children's rights, government transparency, and journalism.
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