#ManilaBayChallenge: Throwback beach photos fill local social media amid crowding at Manila’s ‘white sand beach’

September 21, 2020 - 2:09 PM
In this Sept. 19, 2020 photo, DENR and other officials lead the opening of Manila Bay “white sand beach” along Roxas Boulevard in Manila in celebration of the International Coastal Cleanup Day. (The STAR/KJ Rosales)

The name “Manila Bay” trended over the weekend after the artificial white sand beach along Roxas Boulevard drew a tightly packed crowd amid the ongoing pandemic.

Concerned Filipinos aired out their frustration over the situation through various witty memes and video clips which circulated across Facebook and Twitter.

Despite several issues hounding the project, officials temporarily opened the beach to the public on Saturday and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

It eventually drew in a large gathering of people who failed to observe basic health protocols including the mandated physical distancing rule to prevent transmissions of the deadly novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19.

A photo of visitors walking along the artificial white sand beach in Manila Bay
(Philstar/Edd Gumban)

Photos and video clips of the crowded beach subsequently circulated across Facebook, Twitter and even Reddit.

In view of this, the keyword “Manila Bay”  topped the trends list of local Twitter with posts that varied from criticisms, questions to memes.

Some celebrities, online personalities and netizens once again used their wit through hashtag #ManilaBayChallenge and #Dolomitechallenge where a photo of onlookers with cameras at a footbridge was juxtaposed with their own beach photos.

Some online users also uploaded photos of local and international personalities in jest, saying they are the reason why the public crowded the footbridge near Manila Bay.

These included K-Pop idols BTS, Red Velvet, Blackpink and also Thailand’s “BrightWin” among others.

Other users quipped that these visitors are only looking for ways to get sick and die.

Dumb Ways to Die from Philippines

Popular parody page Malacañang Events and Catering Services, meanwhile, used a photo of the Chinese coast guard vessel.

Ang ganda ng view 😍

Posted by Malacañang Events and Catering Services on Sunday, September 20, 2020

Media news outlets also reported photos of a Filipino named Renalyn Macato who wore a swimsuit when she visited site.

Swimsuit ba kamo sa Manila Bay? Why not! 🩱 Viral na ang netizen na si Renalyn Macato matapos niyang mag-swimsuit sa…

Posted by News5 on Sunday, September 20, 2020

Crowding at Manila Bay and criticisms

Some Filipinos slammed the authorities who allowed the incident to happen. They argued that government officials overlooked the worsening health and economic crisis in the country to present the “beautified” portion of the bay.

“Reminder: Gobyerno ang nagbukas nito sa public. Gobyerno ang nag-invite sa mga tao. Gobyerno ang magsasabi kung bawal o hindi. Gobyerno ang may magbibigay ng sistema,” one user said.

“Gaya nung panahon ni Marcos, ang tumatak sa tao ay yung visuals: infrastructures, napaayos na daan, napagandang estero. It’s a manufactured illusion to hide the reality: kawalan ng trabaho, palpak na public heath response, human rights violations, etc. Wake up,” another wrote.

Spoken word artist Alfonso Manalastas noted the lack of police or security personnel in the area to supposedly control the influx of people.

Some Filipino online users also criticized a video clip showing a school of fish that seemed to swim close to the shoreline, a behavior which they described was unusual to fishes.

Moreover, a Reddit user posted a screenshot of thumbnails of YouTube content creators who seemed to promote the opening of Manila Bay’s controversial artificial white sand beach on their platforms.

Honestly, fuck these social media "Influencers" from Philippines

Local official sacked

Police Lt. Col. Ariel Caramoan, the head of the Ermita Police Station, was relieved from his post over quarantine violations in his area of responsibility.

In a statement issued last Sunday, the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, the group in-charge of enforcing quarantine rules, said that Caramoan failed to implement strict security and health safety measures to prevent the mass gathering of people in Manila’s white sand beach.

“Caramoan could have prevented the quarantine protocol violations at the Manila Bay if there was prior planning and regular monitoring of the situation in the area,” the group said.

“Clearly, he also failed to comply with the JTF COVID Shield order that was coordinated with the PNP Chief for all police commanders to monitor and immediately take action on violations of the quarantine protocols that are going viral in the social media,” it added.

On Saturday, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources also led a cleanup drive for the observance of International Coastal Cleanup  Day along the Roxas Boulevard coastline.

The DENR was mainly blamed for the fish kill incident last week after it initiated the P300 million-worth beautification project early this month.