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Boracay: let it take a break


As far back as 1985, overcrowding in Boracay Island was already an issue. Asiaweek sent me there to look into complaints about the paradise island being spoiled as a result of the rapid development of resorts. It was my first time to visit Boracay, and going there was really an adventure. The roads from Iloilo to Caticlan were bad; it must have taken me 6 hours to travel there by a non-aircon bus.

I can still remember the first time the pumpboat I took to cross over to the island from Caticlan. Around a kilometer from shore, I was already amazed by the crystal-clear waters. The corals were visible and looked as if the bottom was just a meter deep. The boatman told me the depth of the waters was more like 10 meters. And the white sand on beach appeared like baby powder.

Upon disembarkation, I exclaimed to myself: This is really paradise. And I wasn’t surprised that the people there wanted to stop the development of more resorts. There were only a dozen or so small resorts, consisting of nipa-roofed cottages in a compound numbering around 8 or 10. If I remember correctly, there were less than 200 such cottages on the island in 1985. The island had no electricity; at night, each cottage only had a gas lamp for illumination. I spent 3 days on the island talking with local residents and resort owners. They wanted to preserve the beauty of the island.

At the time, the biggest resort was Friday’s (I don’t if it’s still there).

Boracay beach front June 2017

The author enjoying his favorite brew at the Boracay beach in June 2017.

No roads. No motorized transportation. If you wanted to explore the island, you had to walk. At night, strolling down the beach was a favorite activity, with only the moon and the stars providing illumination. The crowds wouldn’t qualify as a crowd in the modern sense of Boracay. During the 3 days I was there, I estimated the number of tourists at around 300. Definitely not in the thousands which is now what we see on Boracay.

Boracay in 1985 was still paradise compared to what it has become now. The people who complained about overcongestion didn’t know things would only worsen in the years and decades to come. I was just lucky to have visited Boracay when its pristine condition was still almost intact. Over the years, each time I went to Boracay, I saw the recklessness, and total lack of concern, in its development. Everybody just wanted the money. The environment was sacrificed.

President Duterte was correct when he described Boracay as a cesspool. It became a victim of its own success. It’s time to stop this crazy rush to build more resorts. Let Boracay take a break.

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About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

2 Responses to Boracay: let it take a break

  1. Dale Bacar says:

    Given the over congestion and current over-development, do you think it is a good idea to create major casino resorts in Boracay after its rehabilitation?

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