To Boracay or Not To Boracay?

10:58 pm

...that is the question.

2014. Photo by Jeremy Jude Lee

There was a time you wouldn't have gotten anything else out of me except a cheesy "always" ala Snape / "okay" ala The Fault In Our Stars, but I don't think that's how I feel about it now.

Here's some b
ack story so you can see where I'm coming from as you read along: My grandfather grew up in Ibajay, Aklan which neighbors Boracay. My titos* and titas* have made kwento* about their experience there in the 70s and 80s - going to Boracay and having the beach all to themselves. 

No resorts - just a tent (or in one titos case, bare back on the beach and waking up with a sun burn).

No food other than fishermen you flag down to buy fresh fish from. And aggressively keeping your beers cold as the ice in the cooler melts, because there isn't electricity on the island.

A few boatmen have also told me that dolphins would often swim close to the island. Now, because of all the noise and water traffic, you would need to take a boat out into sea around two hours before you see dolphins.

No crowds. Just good company.
No electricity.  Just sand, sun, and stars. (I'll admit, a toilet wouldn't hurt)

That sounds more like a paradise to me compared to the Boracay that is now a world famous tourist getaway; this bustling and energetic party island has emerged only in the last fifteen or so years.

In addition to the influx of visitors, a big typhoon passed through the island several years ago and took a shit ton of sand (the same way the 2004 tsunami ravaged a few beaches in Phuket). If you've visited since then, you might have noticed that, in some areas, the roots of many coconut trees were exposed.

Photo by Boracay Stories

You don't actually have to go as far back as the 80s. Here's fat lil baby-me from my first trip there - with the sand line much wider than what you would normally see today.


Over the years, its original beauty and allure have evolved into a different kind of beauty altogether. I'm not trying to dissuade anyone, or telling anyone not to go. It's still an excellent and beautiful beach, with lots of activities for any vacationer - water sports, massages, day drinking, bars and clubs, island hopping and all that jazz. All I'm comparing is the idyllic island getaway (which I personally prefer) to the bustling beach experience.

It's hard not keep coming back, because I've been going there my whole life and have so many cherished memories associated with that long strip of powdery sand.

Photo by Jeremy Jude Lee

Personally experiencing the "development" has given me mixed feelings not just about Boracay, but about tourist destinations in general and why I should visit them - if I still should. Hundreds of other tourist destination are most likely different because of that title: tourist destination. So I guess another question becomes: to tourist, or not to tourist?

*tito →uncle
*tita → aunt
*kwento (verb) → to tell stories 

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