I am stranded in Boracay, a small island in the Western Visayan region in the Philippines. The weather disturbance has intensified into typhoon “Ambo” (international codename: Mawar), the first in the country for the year.
I was about to head out to the nearby Carabao Island when we first experienced a low pressure area. I was to spend a few nights there as I was so in need of some peace and quiet — a scarcity in Boracay. Carabao Island is approximately a 20-minute boat ride north of Boracay. It hosts a marine sanctuary and four diving spots and offers the serenity that you can no longer experience in Boracay.
I took a trip from Manila to Boracay to explore my options. I wanted to find out if I could live here and offer my services. I was clear that it was going to be a temporary set-up. Maybe a year at most. Or maybe, it was a place that I could go back and forth to from Manila, while I’m still in the process of awaiting the manifestation of my geographical home on earth.
I also badly needed to be away from Manila’s harsh energies and take a swim in the sea. I was getting so stressed and being weighed down by the dense and harsh energies of Manila. To my disappointment, although not quite surprisingly, it isn’t any different in Boracay.
My last trip to Boracay was in 2007. It was already then a bit crowded but I was still able to spend and enjoy some peace and quiet. I was still able to experience some serenity and privacy.
Such is no longer the case nowadays. Sadly, Boracay is overcrowded, too noisy, very dense, highly commercialized, over populated, filthy, polluted, highly urbanized, abused. I can only think of one word to best describe it: raped. And I’m sorry to those who see it differently or those who may be offended, especially my fellow countrymen or the locals who are only after further boosting the tourism industry, but Boracay is just way over-rated!
Where have all the flowers gone?
Boracay has been stripped of its purity and innocence. The immaculate beauty that it once was is gone. It is no longer the island paradise that one’s spirit would thirst and yearn for.
It is pretty much an urbanized city — no different from Manila. Fresh food, especially fruits, is now only part of the island’s history. Practically everything is imported either from Caticlan or even Manila! Gone are many of the coconut trees or other fruit-bearing trees. They have been replaced with buildings and commercial establishments. Concrete homes have also taken the place of cottages made of bamboo and other natural materials, fixtures that used to be part of Boracay’s charm. It really feels like I’m still in Manila. The only difference is there is the water around me, the beach, and thankfully the still gorgeous and famous Boracay sunset!
Of course, I already knew prior to coming here that the place has deteriorated over the years. Even Ted Failon, a leading journalist and media personality did an expose in the March 24, 2012 episode of his weekly TV program, Failon Ngayon. From watching that program and what I’ve read and heard from people, I knew what to expect but I didn’t expect it to be this bad. I am too disappointed that I haven’t even had any motivation to take any photographs!
Yet everything in life is relative. And please don’t take my word for it.
To each his own
Perhaps a first time visitor (or even a frequent one) will still be enraptured by Boracay’s powdery sand (although no longer as fine and as white as it was decades ago), or her aqua blue water (again, although no longer as crystalline as it used to be). There are those who may still consider Boracay a haven, a paradise, at least compared to other beaches, locally or elsewhere across the globe, that don’t even come close.
All I’m saying is, Boracay just isn’t the place for me — be it to visit or to reside in. It just doesn’t work for me.
Of course Boracay has also become famous for its wild night life and endless partying. So if that’s the energy that you’re looking for, and if you don’t mind or don’t get affected by the countless merchants encroaching your privacy and space, then Boracay is definitely the paradise for you.
But one thing that attracted me to the island is the growing yoga community and group of holistic health practitioners, people who have embraced a holistic lifestyle that I’ve read and heard about, although still in its infancy stage.
I figured it’s still a choice. I thought, I hoped, that I could find a way to make it work.
Those who resonate with a party lifestyle, fueled by partying and drinking, can definitely find that in the island. Those who opt for the other side of the spectrum, a quieter, healthier, wholesome way of life, will likewise have their needs and desires met.
I figured perhaps I can learn to not be affected by the harshness of the energies that’s prevalent in the island. Perhaps I can figure out a routine and lifestyle that’ll work for me and be able to co-exist. Much like what I thought I would be able to do in Manila after my four-year sojourn in Northern California.
But who am I kidding? And why will I put up with something that clearly isn’t supportive, nourishing, nurturing or uplifting? Why settle for less when I am deserving of so much more?
One thing though that I appreciate about Boracay is the no-smoking-along-the-beach ordinance that they have implemented. Not quite surprisingly though, despite all the warning signs strategically and visibly located, there are still quite a number of local tourists violating the law. It’s hard for me to give them the benefit of the doubt that they’re just not aware. My biases tell me that it’s either the Filipinos’ attitude of “hangga’t makakalusot, lulusot” (if I can get away with anything, I will), or their general disregard and disrespect for the law, and Nature. It’s a cultural thing. Sad but true, and it is the reality.
One other thing I appreciate about Boracay is the fact that I am not met with incredulity by the people when they encounter solo travelers like me, as is the case with the rest of the country. It has become part of Boracay‘s culture. There have been numerous solo tourists, mostly foreign, who have visited and even chose to reside in the island. At least, I’ve found comfort in that. I don’t have to deal with the energy brought by quizzical looks or outright querying. It is also one reason that I chose Boracay. But it’s not a good enough reason, not substantial enough for me to dismiss the other unacceptable conditions that the place is offering. Thank you, but no thank you.
A plea to the gods of the rain and the wind
When the rain began to pour and the wind started to blow, I immediately turned to the gods of the rain and the wind. I prayed to them, thanked and asked them for healing and cleansing. I thanked them for the blessing, the gift of cleansing and purging of all the low vibrating and dense energies of the island, of the people who visit and live here, who unknowingly carry the energies of pain, anger, confusion, greed, fear…and that doesn’t exclude me. We all have fear-based thoughts and emotions. We all are in need of cleansing and healing.
Every person, place, situation has a message and a lesson
So here I am, waiting for the weather to clear and the signal that says that my time is up in this island. Being stranded in Boracay is teaching me many lessons.
I am living in the moment. I am trusting that there’s something beyond what my limited basic senses can comprehend. I am validating my belief that there’s a reason for everything. I am strengthening my faith that I am being protected and guided. Always. I am honing my skill of taking the good with the bad. I am becoming clearer on what I want/don’t want, what’s acceptable and non-negotiable in my choice of a location and environment.
And I am patiently waiting, and awaiting with much enthusiasm and gratitude, the calm after the storm.
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