Travel Guide | BORACAY Before and After

essen.vicente
EssenV @essen.vicenteJuly 2019 · 8 min read

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So I went to Boracay with my mom's side of the family (she has 9 siblings) and @david-krug (it was also my first time introducing him to this side of the family but that's an entirely different topic altogether!! ) 😉.

Except you guys might not even know what Boracay is, or why I’m even doing a “before” and “after” article for it – what does it all even mean, right? So today, in this essay, I shall expand upon the properties of— lol just kidding. Wouldn’t want to bore you all to death. 🎓

In all seriousness though, here are a few heads up, since this is more of a Chapter 4 article than just Boracay 101:

  • FORMAT ❗: My first travel article was more about cost and itineraries, but this one is going to be more of an advisory guide. For those who’ve already been and plan to return this year, this will set a bit of your expectations.
  • HISTORY❗: I like giving information, ‘tis what I like. It will give you context for the before and the reasons why there’s an after in the first place.
  • POLITICS❗: This article will get a little political – yep. If you dislike, I just wanted to let you know. It’s more of my country’s politics anyway, but I know people sometimes dislike reading stuff like this, so you can skip the entire section because I’m thoughtful like that.

Now that that’s out of the way, onward we go.

PARTY ISLAND:

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For those who don’t know, Boracay is an island located on the off-shore of Aklan and is one of the most beautiful and popular beaches in the Philippines. The tiny island has an 11-kilometer stretch of white powdery sand, and crystal clear, cerulean, warm waters that still only go up to your waist even though you’re already meters away from the shoreline. It’s the perfect summer getaway (yuck, I sound like such a commercial).

And with all perfect summer getaways, it became the highlight to all tourism promotional videos that defined the Philippines, along with Palawan. It was the beach tourists came in to party hard 🎊.

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Two of the main events were the famous LaBoracay Parties during Labor Weekend (May 1st) where nights were filled with partying and drinking and partying and drinking and swimming and partying and so on and so forth, and the Boracay Pub Crawl - which is as literate as it can get - drunken crawling around the beach after walking to all the pubs along Stations 1 to 3, with much partying and drinking still (look at how much we just love the pattern of drinking, and partying and swimming. It's ingenious. 😎)

On top of the bars, there were also many activities along the beach itself - fire-dancing, artists performing, masseurs to give you an instant massage for when snorkeling, paragliding and the other water sports made your body ache, etc, etc.

I, myself, was also guilty of playing up the reputation and hype – when giving my friends from Spain the options to tour my country, the algorithm of suggestions in my head literally went like Boracay = Party vs. Palawan = Nature.

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Hence what came next.

THE SHUTDOWN:

Given that we've established its partying properties, it wasn't much of a surprise that something would eventually go wrong (this is where it will also get a bit political - skip if you dislike).

There were a few factors contributing to the shutdown of Boracay but here are the main points:

ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS:

  • The Philippine DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) conducted its review on the island for sustainability and they literally discovered shit in the water. The hotels were dumping their waste (both human and plastic) directly into the sea, raising the toxicity level of the water in the beach. 🚨💀

NEW PRESIDENT:

  • Our new president, Rodrigo Duterte is crass, swears a lot, and kills people through his 'War on Drugs Campaign' but the man also gets shit done. He has a no non-sense attitude, so if he mandates something, it better be happening. I guess this time, the mandate was to protect and maintain the sustainability of our natural resources no matter what the cost (20% of the country's tourism revenue if you're interested).

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A lot of people complained that the measures taken were harsh - it was a 6-month period of complete and total non-access to the island. It was going to affect 90% of the population who lived there since everyone was dependent on the tourism. No tourist could get in, and only Aklanons were allowed to stay/travel there. But if you just found out you were literally swimming in toxic waste, no matter how pretty it looked like, I think the shutdown was completely justified (fight me 🔥).

REHABILITATION EFFECTS:

During my visit this year, I managed to interview one of the hotel business locals on the island itself and get first-hand information on their actual opinions. See, I had such a debate on the capital on whether it was more detrimental to the people that it had been shut down, that I was so glad that I would finally know from someone directly affected by the shut down whether it was a good thing or not.

I figured I could write a million sections on different aspects of the new rules, but I thought maybe a table might be more efficient 😛 (this post is so long already omg)

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ACTIVITYPROSCONS
🔥 No Fire DancingNo more kerosene to pollute air and sandNo awesome, awesome pictures like the above
🍝 No Beach-Front DiningNo more littering on the beach and spilling food on sandSad 😔 - it was all very pretty before with the couches and lounges and lights
🙋 No FlyeringNo more annoying people harassing you to look at their "cheap" pricesLesser accessibility to when you want to be spontaneous - now you actually have to schedule and structure yourself
🎉 No Partying and Drinking at BeachQuieter and lesser encounters with drunk people slobbering and puking all over youQuieter. It's all just super quiet. I wasn't used to it. 😮
🚫 No Businesses without PermitsMore structure and less scamming, and just order in general. Everything is legit now.Price hike omg. The cost for EVERYTHING, from hotels, to restaurants, to basic laundry services just went UP UP UP.
🌊 No Sandcastle MakingTo be honest, I don't know the reason for this one? I think it was just to stop people from illegally making money off the sand?No more pretty pictures and mementos of the beach itself - it used to be like a standard post-card picture you'd take as proof that you'd gone to Boracay.

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CONCLUSION:

In all honesty, I still don't know how to feel about it. 😅

On the one hand, I absolutely love and adore the fact that it's so much more cleaner now, and that its natural beauty has apparently been 90% restored. According to my mom and her sisters, the place looks more like how it had been 20 years ago when it wasn't so popular yet, and it hadn't been tarnished by mainstream tourism. The locals love the fact that is finally calmer, quieter and much more structured - there are finally rules now and tourists don't get to do whatever they want on the island.

On the other hand though, while I was walking down the beach front at night, I missed the lights and bustling activity on the sand itself. It looked a bit empty and I could feel the stark difference in my body. You could tell that there was a hollow area in my psyche reserved for the music and the fire-lit concerts of acoustic guitars in the open air. Now there is an 11-kilometer stretch of empty space like this:

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But maybe the only reason why I feel like this is because I have something to compare to in my head. I knew what it had been like 3 years ago and it was just so different. Also, maybe it's the 20-something year old in me that wanted to party for a bit during the night walks but couldn't. Maybe it's a good thing that Boracay has "grown up" a little and become more responsible for itself.

Regardless of what it is, the only thing that I cannot deny is that the place is fucking beautiful and I am so glad that it's part of my country's national treasures.

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But also, do let me know what you guys think though! I'd LOVE to hear your opinions 😊


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Infact people should enjoy and also take care of the environment. We have similar stories in India too where people.just spoil and pollute the places where the enjoy and party.


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Really? That's actually quite good, because then maybe we can learn from some of the rehabilitation processes you guys have done in India. Do you guys have beaches or rivers that had to be shut down as well?


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Infact we did proper measure and help to get everything cleaned up and then open up for public usage... It happened in Puri beaches and then the banks of river Ganga in Varanasi ....even Goa which is quite famous for tourist has also taken many such steps


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Oh wow those actually sound like really interesting places -- I'd love to go read up on them too. Maybe my country can take some pointers on how to do the next rehabilitation. Were they able to maintain the cleanliness after a while? Manila Bay, one of the capital's beaches/coasts was cleaned up by a 1,000 volunteers over one weekend, but so far it's been hard keeping it as clean as possible. 😕


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Hai @essen.vicente,

Its some neat way pf presenting about a place. It looks a worth read about a place which already knows through many blogs and also through some of the co workers personally. Nice to know about a place which has an identity to the philippines.

As you mentioned when I read about the partying stuff, there is an urge from inside to make a visit there ..you know to just crawl, may that 20 something heart inside me was prompting to my brain (as per your own style of words used) but that turned to be a disappointment in the later conclusion.

In one way it is absolutely necessary to save the sea and the land. Excess population and selfish human beings especially in power had damaged the earth that it can already suffered, So if we could understand the importance of such environmental concern at least the future generations will be able to enjoy it.

By the way, nice pictures and you have a natural flair for writing, Keep steeming and stay connected.

Have a nice day


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Aw thank you! I'm glad you already know about Boracay - I wasn't sure if people in this platform would tbh. The article is so long I didn't think people would stay engaged and read to the end but hopefully it's not super boring 😅

You are right on the fact that we need to preserve it for future generations, so I guess I don't mind that some concessions had to be made to achieve that. Thank you for the kind words! I'll try to keep Steeming more regularly, this is turning out to be a lot of fun 😊


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Congratulations! Your high-quality travel content was selected by @travelfeed curator @for91days and earned you a reward, in form of a 100% upvote and a resteem. Your work really stands out! Your article now has a chance to get featured under the appropriate daily topic on our TravelFeed blog.
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Thank you so much for the upvote and the resteem @travelfeed! 😍 I'm glad that you find my content a useful contribution to the community!


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You are really good at writing. I usually get stressed out reading long things, but I actually finished this. :D Interesting to read a bit more about this after just coming home from Boracay and I prefer this to the total destruction for sure, but I think that they could have made a short strip on the beach, like 100-200 meters, where some companies could have activities like, couches, beanbags, dance, maybe fire dance but without gasoline, I'm pretty sure there are environmentally ok gadgets for that, and this short strip could be monitored so that it is always kept clean by the companies who pay to be there. Sure, it wouldn't be the same, but it would be a bit of a complement and memory and a cool activity spot on the beach that would not hurt the environment. I hope you get some heavier upvotes, I think you are worth it, keep trying!


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Aww, thank you baby! 😘 I'm glad you managed to finish it - I know how much you don't like reading long and tedious things lol. ✌

That actually sounds like a great idea - bring back some of the fun, but with high level of monitoring so that everything is still environmentally sound and clean. You get a good balance with keeping nature intact, but still be able to have the same memories I had from way back when. It's been a couple years, maybe in the future they'll be able to bring it back a little bit.

Lol I didn't think it'd take me 2 months to post another article omg, but yes I shall keep trying. Love you! 💛😉


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Love you too!


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Hi @essen.vicente. Boracay looks like a beautiful place. And it's very interesting to hear about how it has been changed recently. Sounds like it is mostly good. You really did an excellent job showing us the island and comparing the old Boracay to the new Boracay. I really enjoyed this post. And congrats on getting in the top 3 posts in the SWM travel digest!! It's well deserved.

Anyways, I'm here checking up on everyone who is followed by the Steem Terminal and wanted to let you know that if you ever have any questions or need any help here on Steem, myself and the rest of the team at the Terminal are here for you!

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Thank you so much @derekrichardson! I'm a little impressed that people actually read and finish this entire article lol (I felt like I was rambling on and on for a bit while writing it). If you hadn't pointed out that I made it to the top 3 on the Travel Digest, I would've completely missed it, thanks for the heads up!


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