With Undas behind us this year, many people focus on coming Christmas. Seasoned travelers, however, are thinking ahead of Yule, even past Valentine’s Day and Holy Week. Indeed, while it’s but a blip on most everybody’s radar, now is the best time to book those budget flights and discounted hotel stays for next summer, especially with the reopening of Boracay.
Not surprisingly, the stars beat many of us to the white sands of the rehabilitated island. Erik Santos, Coleen Garcia, Rafa Mae Quinto, Rafael Rosel and several Miss Earth 2018 candidates were in Boracay last Oct. 26. Going by their posts on social media that day and our small chat when we bumped into some of them at Discovery Shores where we were billeted, it’s clear they were mighty impressed with what they saw.
After the rude awakening last summer that Boracay was in forlorn form, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to order its closure for six months while an inter-agency task force works on restoring order, it is now back to beauty; the one we saw in key scenes in the movies “When Love Is Gone” (starring Aga Muhlach and Anne Curtis) and “Romantic Island” ( Su-kyeong Lee, Seon-gyun Lee, Eugene Kim and Min-gi Lee), just to name two.
The classic, cinematic “feel” of one of the country’s top tourist destinations is a thing to behold. The waters are now clear and coliform-free. You can walk barefoot from station to station 3 and back again without stepping on litter or, worse, disgusting cigarette butts and dangerous shards of glass. And there are fewer people on the beach, what with the cap put on the number of tourists that can stay on the island.
According to Department of Tourism (DoT) Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat, no more than 19, 125 people are allowed to visit the island per day. The number already includes foreign tourists that should not exceed 6,405.
She reiterated that the “new” Boracay doesn’t allow partying on the beach-front, only inside certain venues. The building of sand-castles will also be regulated as the activity “tinkers with the natural terrain of the beach resulting to prolonged presence of irregular contours which affect the natural symmetry of the beach,” read the ordinance.
There shall be no fire dancers, no bonfires—certainly no drinking and smoking on the shore.
“We want Boracay to be known as a family getaway instead of a party destination,” she said.
These aren’t new rules, Secretary Berna pointed out, but existing ones that will just be more strictly enforced.
Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar said 80% of the first phase of the infrastructure and road development aspects of the rehabilitation have been completed. So far, 4.12 kilometers of the Boracay Circumferential Road from Cagban Port to Elizalde property have been built, as well as the missing gap in the backdoor on Bolabog Beach in Barangay Balabag.
Two lines of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) drainage pipes are in place on the circumferential road. These will come in handy against storm water and floods. Balabag Beach now also has cemented sidewalk.
“Doing our part in saving Boracay is something I can proudly tell my grandchildren someday,” Villar said.
Most of the registered resorts on Boracay island opened last Oct. 30. The road projects are expected to be completed by end of the year.