Going back to Boracay

I wasn’t able to go to a friend’s wedding held in Boracay island, and this blog post about life in the island has me wishing I was there — modern sprawl, hordes of tourists and algae notwithstanding.

slouching somewhere

It’s crowded. There are so many people in the small island that there’s even moderate vehicular traffic along the small main road behind the beachfront properties, which would have been unthinkable decades ago. And should that make you shake your head in disbelief, you can get some comfort from a cheeseburger in McDonald’s or a latte in Starbucks. Okay, time to pick up your jaw from the sand, Boracay-visitors-from-long-ago. Oh, let’s not forget the lumot (algae) that stain the clear waters particularly in the summer months when the tourists come in droves. With so many people jostling for a piece of this paradise, it’s easy to tell yourself, I won’t ever go back. I shouldn’t have gone back.

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Lambchops at Cyma restaurant at D’Mall. Yum! Had lunch there on our second day and the food was great! For some reason, the food at Cyma Boracay tastes better than what they serve in their two other branches in Metro Manila. (Not many people know that Cyma, which has branches in Greenbelt 2 and Shangri-La Mall, started out in Boracay.) I don’t know why that is, but these lambchops were fabulous. I also scarfed down some fresh cucumber and tomato salad drizzled with vinaigrette, some pasta, and the divine moussaka. Sigh. Now I’m hungry!

Hala Bira! Youth in ati-atihan costumes at the Caticlan airport runway, waiting for the first flight of Cebu Pacific direct to Caticlan. You know what this means—more tourists! What with the ro-ro, CebuPac, Asian Spirit, SeaAir…I really hope Boracay has a strong environmental/ecological plan in place. (BTW, I have no idea why the photo is sideways! I tried rotating it several times already. Grrr…)

Firedancer at Boracay Tropics. The first night we were on the island, Boracay Tropics, our hotel, hosted a mini party for its guests. It was pouring rain and they wanted to show us what evenings were like on the beachfront. So there were little ihawans with grilled seafood and meats (choriburger! It only ever tastes good in Boracay! Why is that?), and little kiosks selling souvenir items, as well as the ubiquitous braiding, henna tattoo, and glitter tattoo services. This dancer (forgot his name!) is said to be the best and most famous firedancer in Bora. But I was told that he doesn’t participate government-sponsored events on the island? Why? He’s gay and the mayor thinks it won’t be good for Boracay tourism! How crazy, right?

The Reef Walker. I’m not one to be adventurous, but a few years before my 30th birthday, I made a promise to myself that every year, I’d try to do something that I haven’t done before. And usually, I managed to make new experiences and memories every year. One time, I attended a scriptwriting workshop, another time, I was swimming with the whale sharks in Sorsogon. Another time, I was in the rainforests of Cagayan Valley with National Geographic in search of the Philippine crocodile. This year? I was in Boracay, still trying out new things: reef walking (you literally walk on the sea floor wearing only a heavy helmet. This is the boat that takes you to the reef and waits till you come up), spelunking, ATV driving (fun!), and parasailing (I never thought I’d have my ass hanging over Boracay, haha!). What will next year bring? I don’t know, but I’m eager to find out. I hope I’m doing new stuff until I’m 100 years old.

A blue day at Boracay. This was taken a few weeks back when I was in Boracay. It was rainy, the water was cold, and there were more gray days than sunny days, but it was fun to see a different side to this island. Most of these pictures will show up in a magazine. But here’s a preview…