I have always loved the beach; I have spent many childhood summers at the beach in my parents’ hometown in Bicol, and I’m even thinking of building a house for my family on the shore if ever my income would allow so. But Boracay was a special case. I used to look condescendingly upon Boracay and the people who have been there. Sure, it’s a pretty beach and all, but I never understood the fuss and exaggeration. This certain fuss heightened during #laboracay (a portmanteau of the words Labor Day and Boracay) last month, when the beach was flooded with party-goers on the first few days of May to celebrate Labor Day. But the thing is, I have no experience to back up my condescension. My parents never brought me and my siblings to this place when we were younger. I am basing my scorn on photos online and stories from friends, which is bad. Very bad.
The UP Pep Squad, which I am part of–well, used to be a part of, because I already graduated–usually held its annual team-building activities in Boracay. I was not able to join during the previous years because my parents forbade me to go. This year, something miraculous happened–when I asked for their permission, they said yes. So I found myself hauling my ass to Boracay last May 29, along with the other members of the squad. And there, I finally understood what a big deal Boracay was.
This is a photo taken from my mobile phone, which isn’t a smartphone, so technically it’s of bad quality. But I mean, come on. Look at the view from Boracay. The shades of blue on the water are stunning.
I travelled with the UP Pep Squad Drummers. We boarded a plane to Kalibo on the night of May 29, rented a van to Caticlan and waited in the jetty port until morning before riding a boat to the island. I was surprised at the volume of Koreans and Chinese who went to Boracay which I first observed when I was in the jetty port. In my head, I was sure that there will be foreigners travelling with us, but I did not expect that many Koreans in the port with us.
We settled in a cheap but okay place called Casa Felicitas, which was a 5-minute walk away from D’Mall, where shops (many of which are also seen in Manila), money changers, and restaurants are located. We had our breakfast at D’Mall and afterwards, we strolled to the beachfront.
The photo above is the first one I took upon walking to the beachfront that morning. My friends and I were talking as we walked towards the shore. When we did reach the shore, words temporarily ceased coming out from my mouth. I had to stop talking because the sand is white, and the water is a clear blue, which was definitely amazing. I stared at the blue for a few seconds, but then came back from my reverie and realized I wasn’t alone. And that is how Boracay shut me up.
The days that followed consisted of team building activities, the turnover ceremony where the new captains and head drummers of the squad are announced, eating out, hanging out in our hotel room watching cartoons, and a bit of drinking. Last Sunday though, we spent most of the day by the beach. We swam, some played ultimate, and some (including me) went skimboarding.
On our last day, we went island hopping. We had three stops: Crocodile Island, some island whose name escaped me, and Puka Beach. The first two were snorkeling spots; Crocodile Island had lots of fishes and corals, while the second one had sea urchins and sea stars. I lied down on the narrow wooden walkway surrounding the boat on our way back to the main island, and even slept on it. On the night before we left the island, we ate at a dampa restaurant beside the talipapa (small market)–basically, you buy the fresh ingredients from the talipapa and let the cooks in the dampa-style restaurant prepare the food for you. We had baked mussels, grilled chicken, and pork sinigang. All were delicious, but the experience was made extra special because it was my first time to eat at a dampa restaurant, and I shared it with my friends from the squad. 🙂
We rode a boat back to Caticlan on the night June 2, rode a van to Kalibo, waited at the airport and flew back to Manila at around 5 in the morning.
The trip was beyond okay–I did not spend a lot of money, I had a great time, and I had great companions–but I have two regrets. The first is not bringing my own snorkel gear–we have lots because my dad kept on buying gear so we wouldn’t have to borrow. I was afraid that I won’t have space for it in my backpack, so I left it on the dining table before I left the house. So I had to rent gear which surely had been in other people’s mouths when we went island hopping. The other is not bringing a camera with me–Boracay is a hella beautiful place, worthy of many pictures. The only camera I had was the one in my phone, and it was super shitty. I had to take in everything I saw with my eyes and store it in my brain. I resolved to put everything I saw into writing, but I managed to write only about the first day.
On the trip back to the main island from island hopping, I sat on the edge of the boat and saw that some bits of plastic and foil were floating on the clear blue water, and that pissed me off. Also, when were walking along the beachfront, an array of different shops, restaurants, and bars were lined up near the shore which meant that some of the trash could go to the sea. Clearly, something needs to be done with our conservation of our seas.
Boracay was fun, Boracay was cool, but Boracay is not the best for me. The top spot in my list of the best beaches I’ve been to belongs to Panglao in Bohol, where the water is also clear, the sand is also white, but the people are fewer. It’s less noisy, and I did not find silence in Boracay. It’s a matter of preference and personal taste–I like my beaches quiet and with only a few people.
While browsing through my Facebook feed, I stumbled upon a list of remote beaches in the Philippines from Looloo. Here’s hoping I get to more places that shut me up. 🙂