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Love is a beach

What do we love about Boracay?
The finest white sand we have ever seen, the bluest waters, the modern tropical vibe unlike any other.
Boracay, 24 years ago when I first saw it, was much cleaner, less populated and quieter at night. It wasn’t a party island nor did it have a traffic problem, pollution and flooding. Newlyweds then, we thought it was paradise. The stretch of beach was shorter then and the length of beach front to water much, much wider.
Most of the island was still covered in coconut trees. Now, resorts of all shapes and sizes line the island, going almost all around it and inland as well.
The Department of Tourism says many establishments had built “too close to the beach and spilling over into the roads of the 1,000-hectare island.”
When you stroll along the beachfront, it is far more preferable to turn your eyes toward the water. There is “people traffic,” and the packed sand if these oft-used paths is no longer as sandy (moist and muddy in parts, actually) and no longer as even. You have to watch your step because you might trip over roots and manhole covers that had become exposed due to erosion.
Then again, who can resist the sights, sounds and scents of the commercial side, where one can feast on not just an amazing selection of food and drink, but also on the sight of different kinds of people?
You will still find little perfect spots where the sand feels perfect under your feet and the water envelopes you in a cool embrace, forgetting for a moment the fastfood chains that had sprouted up all over the island. You can gaze at the sky or the horizon, watch the sailboats bobbing past at a distance, and try not to think that these waters, which look so clear and calm, are teeming with germs.
I just cannot stand the thought that it would end up like the cesspool that President Rodrigo Duterte called it.
It’s funny because while it looks overdeveloped, it is actually not. A foreign national whom we met in Tablas, Romblon, pointed this out recently.
He loves Boracay, too — he used to take vacations there to get away from the Norwegian winters. He also saw the changes in the past decade alone. He said it is overbuilt, but not really developed. If it were, he said, there would be a better drainage and sewerage system.
He still loves Boracay though.
There is something about it that captures you, lulls your senses till you forget your cares and worries. People come back for more. Proof is the number of arrivals yearly.
According to the DoT, Boracay welcomes at least 2 million tourists yearly. But with some 50,000 residents living in the island, too, the problem of overpopulation aggravates the pollution, drainage and sewerage problems.
How it got to this choking point is the real question.
And perhaps the harsh words and ultimatum given by the President are important to give the environmental and development issues a push as soon as possible.
Warnings of Boracay’s demise had been given a long time ago by various concerned groups. But nobody used to listen to environmentalists, let alone heed their words.
Now, it seems one little word had created some fire and fury among those concerned. As reported recently, people who live in and have interests in Boracay are against negative descriptions of the island, let alone a comparison with the “pit of human waste.”
But many of them hope that the six months given to the Department of Environment to fix the problems, as well as finish the drainage system that was started 10 years ago would, indeed, take effect.
The words of a business leader is worth a re-quote here, too: “What we need is less reaction and condemnation and blame. We need actual ideas, solidly researched and organized plans, and leadership that will do the hard things to ensure Boracay can get through current difficulties.”
Six months is Duterte’s favorite time frame. Let us see if it is enough this time. We do not want the world’s favorite beach destination to be closed down!
We have many more summers to spend in Boracay.

1 comment

  • Architect Lito L.Mallonga FUAP

    The harm has been done and can not be undone now just to much greed and no one care of the environment and now who will pay for the clean up. Blame it's other that is always I always hear all the time and nothing has change.

    Diyan tayo talagang magaling sa center stage. Banat dito at banat doon na walang katapusan at karate na rin ang kayabangan.

    Architect Lito L.Mallonga FUAP Wednesday, 14 February 2018 13:13 Comment Link

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