Nickelodeon plans to build an underwater theme park in the Philippine island of Palawan according to CNN News, but Filipino BYU-Hawaii students said the park would offer more job opportunities but destroy the island that has remained very preserved for years.
Information technology sophomore Isacarl Cabrera said he does not support the theme park because limited islands in the Philippines are untouched. “Palawan is one of them. Filipinos are mostly against a Nickelodeon park there because one way or another, it will destroy everything,” he said.
“Our department of environment is against all those who are involved in mining in the Philippines and has spoken out about this park. I don’t think they will get a permit to build.”
Vince Cinches, a campaigner from Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said he feels the park will eliminate the fragile marine ecosystem. "It's quite despicable for them to put up a theme park in paradise," he said. Palawan is a UNESCO designated biosphere reserve and home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site marine park.
The attraction proposal was officially announced at the beginning of the year and has received negative feedback, according to CNN. The park is projected to cover 988 acres of Palawan. Environmental Secretary Gina Lopez announced her opposition to the controversial project and will not allow construction to go ahead.
Nickelodeon has spoken out on the project to inform the public of "undersea" nature of the development being almost entirely on land.
Coral World Park, the organization partnering with Nickelodeon, released a statement, "The only infrastructure in the water is floating and all developments are on land.” Though Nickelodeon claims the park will advocate ocean protection and reef conservation, BYUH students are skeptical.
Edgar Cabera, an IT sophomore, said he thinks the project is a good idea. “People will have more opportunities for jobs. It will help tourism in the Philippines, and it will also help people from outside the Philippines to come know more about our country. It will add a huge tourism attraction,” he said.
“Right now, I believe the underground river is one of the [new] seven wonders of the world. If we have the underwater park, it will bring more people there and make the Philippines more popular.”
Francis Rasing, a freshman majoring in hospitality tourism management, said he is opposed to the park because he doesn’t believe it’s practical. “It’s not going to happen because Palawan is a small island. Before you propose to create something there, you have to submit a lot of requests. It’s too small of an island, and it’s not practical to create infrastructure there for tourists,” he said.
Rasing said the process of obtaining a building permit is difficult. “First, the government officials would never let them build it. Second, the people would not allow other things. It’s possible to bring construction there, but I know the government would not allow it. There’s a law in the Philippines that you are allowed to build a specific size, can’t be too big. It has to be a certain way.
“Everyone should visit Palawan, but a park would ruin it.”