The different faces of Boracay
FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) - April 21, 2018 - 12:00am

When I first came back from exile Boracay was one of the places I wanted to go to and see. It was just beginning a worldwide reputation as “the best beach in the world.” 

That was thanks to Conde Nast, the reputable travel magazine. It named other resorts  in the Philippines and the world but their readers, known as classy and elegant travelers, gave the no. 1 choice to Boracay.

Boracay, a tiny island in the Western Philippines, was dubbed the best island in the world by Conde Nast Traveler’s readers.

The travel mag’s annual Reader’s Choice Awards surveyed more than 30,000 globetrotters.

In recent years there has been a surge in travelers flocking to its powdery white beaches without the needed infrastructure for its expansion. It was bound to have the problems  it has now.

Many of these tourists were lured by Conde Nast’s  description of Boracay, which became famous for its beautiful beaches and great parties.

The beaches are often compared to paradise lost because of their white sand that’s incredibly soft and nice. Well, at least this is what those who visited to see it for themselves read in a tourist guides of the Philippines.

I gathered a few of the comments from a travel blog and found an almost unanimous regret that the Philippines had neglected their “paradise.

Here’s one: “Unfortunately, Boracay turned out to be no more than a tourist trap and probably one of the worst places I’ve ever been to in Southeast Asia. You may hate me for saying this and trust me, I was incredibly disappointed when I left the island, so before you crucify me, read my thoughts to understand why I hated Boracay."

Again, I might be totally subjective, so read the comments (both supporting and disregarding my opinion) under this article to make up your own mind. But remember how do you feel about 2.1 million tourists – that’s more than 40,000 on an average week, all cramped on a tiny island?

After three years it seems like someone (President Duterte?) finally agreed with my opinion and decided to close the island to tourists for six months. Boracay now has to contend with environmental degradation, traffic congestion, insufficient solid waste management, illegal construction, property disputes, illegal fishing. Not to mention that the most popular search term is ‘Boracay cheap prostitutes’ and ‘cheap sex in Boracay’. Multiple people reported food poisoning (myself included), so something clearly isn’t right.

When I visited it in 1986, I too was disappointed that the white sand and clear blue water were nowhere to be seen with local vendors lined up on the beach.

The moment you step out of the hotel in Boracay, you’re practically under attack.

Annoying vendors are everywhere: the streets, the shops, and sadly, even the beach. A well-traveled reader might ask “what’s the big deal” as there are vendors everywhere in Southeast Asia, but in Boracay, they aren’t just screaming at you ‘Madame, massage?!’ when you’re passing by.

While I was lying on the beach every five minutes I had a different guy standing on top of my head trying to sell me some crappy souvenirs or boat rides. The nice Filipinos I had read about before heading that way were nowhere to be found. And instead, the place was full of people who didn’t respect the fact that I wanted to enjoy the beach in peace.

The worst is seeing this beautiful beach being destroyed…

The worst thing about Boracay was actually the beach. Not only because I was being bothered by annoying vendors, but because the beautiful island of Boracay is constantly being destroyed by consumerism. The white beach in Boracay is really a nice one, comparable to those in Fiji or any other Pacific island, but how can you even enjoy its beauty when you’re surrounded by Starbucks, Pizza Hut, and other random restaurants right on the beach.

Boracay is HEAVEN and HELL, depending on what a traveler needs or wants.

I am a Filipino and I completely agree with your points. I hope that this article should be an eye opener for everyone most especially to the government that Boracay should be taken seriously in terms of tourist handling and environmental management.             

Boracay in the early 90s was heaven and pretty secluded. Now that its 2015 Boracay isnt such a secret anymore.

These are some suggestions and it is obvious that it depends on what you experienced. There is unanimity that much needs to be done to bring back Boracay to its world renowned beauty. The debate should not be about the casino. (Casinos are also changing, it has become more a township with parks, malls and restaurants for the whole family.) It is government response to public works needed by Boracay.

Who’s got the money and the will for the huge work that has to be done? Pagcor gave a provisional license to Galaxy of Macau. The word to watch is “provisional.” It can be revoked at any time if Galaxy does not do the work necessary to return Boracay to the paradise it once was. From here on if nothing is done, it will be downhill to hell and out it goes. At present, a total rehabilitation program is awaited.

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