I left Boracay yesterday morning, at the break of dawn, like a lover sneaking off before sunrise. I didn’t want to leave, but had to rebook for the earliest flight out. Parting from this island has always been bittersweet, but there was something else that made it feel like a goodbye.
For one, I flew out of the country for a workation that very night, so it was goodbye to all my islands for half a month. The other reason that contributed to the uncertainty of a speedy return was the buzz and speculation of the impending closure by the government.
Some locals were for it, saying the environment needs a break from the influx of tourists. Though I concur that it truly was crowded for an off-peak time of the year, I doubt that overtourism is the cause of this. Others boldly spoke out against irresponsible businessmen who only cared about building boxes and boxes of resorts, with no regard for waste management and the impact of their urban structures on a tiny island.
Some were in dissent, protesting through messages on paraws that said, “No to closure, yes to clean up.” The issue is a much bigger than that now, and the initiative a little too late.
I’m not saying these things to cast a negative light on Boracay, because don’t get me wrong: it is still beautiful, else it wouldn’t have been so hard to leave; but it has to be said, it has seen better days.
I remember my 1st time on the island back in 1998: the bright, white shores stretched far back until the roots of coconut trees became too dense and concealed them. The only resorts were Pearl of the Pacific (where my family stayed), Sea Wind, Waling Waling, and Fridays. Beyond this cluster of development was nothing but little huts here and there.
At night, we enjoyed the sound of crashing waves instead of some electronic beats being blasted off speakers, each establishment louder than the other. Even on a hot day, the breezes were cool and they sashayed under our flimsy cover-ups and strands of hair.
The back streets that used to be so easy to navigate are now jammed with traffic despite one-way schemes, and it takes 30 minutes by tricycle to get from Station 1 to 2 (that’s only roughly 1-2 kilometers, by my own estimation). The narrowness of the road is suffocating, with buildings stacked across from each other, trapping air, sweat, people, and any semblance of a beach vibe.
Heartbreaking. Better laws and regulations must be put into place and actually followed, otherwise it will just be a floating city with no shores nor trees.
I’m not losing hope though, because there still are people and businesses that do right by the environment. Happy to have stayed in a resort that, aside from being the most Instagrammable, complied with environmental laws. I felt so pampered during my short stay at Coast Boracay, from the fastest, most convenient transfers, to the comfy beds and luxurious amenities, up to the excellent service and attention to every small detail. This helped ease me into still seeing Boracay for what it still is: a gem out of our 7,641 islands… that hopefully keeps on shining for many more years to come.
Watch the video for glimpses into my overnight+ trip for my friend’s wedding #BeMyLady0318.
P.S. So much more to say, but I want to post this now in case I forget all my thoughts. Writing this from Berlin. More stories when I have the time, for now, guten nacht!