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Bora Memories (Isla de Borácay, Malay, Aclán)

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In just a few days, summer season will end. Although many parts of the country are already experiencing intermittent weather, midday is usually scorching hot. It only aggravates my hyperhidrosis, a disorder that has been tormenting me since my elementary days. That is why I tend to gulp down huge quantities of water, a feat that might even surprise regular gym enthusiasts and athletes.

I admit that I abhor this kind of weather (I’m a typhoon type of guy, I guess). But this scorching summer discomfort that I feel brings back memories of last year’s equally searing summer. Last year’s heat wave, however, was a fun one, because me and Wifey spent it in one of the world’s most famous beaches…

…our very own Isla de Borácay!

Truth to tell, I never dreamed of going to that place. I’m not a beach guy (I’m a self-proclaimed mountaineer, hehe!). It was just to please my wife who is more of a beach person. Anyway, since I’m planning to travel the whole country before reaching the age of forty, perhaps it’s unthinkable to even skip this tropical paradise from my herculean itinerary. So what the hey.

The very few who share my advocacy (on Filhispanic Identity, true Philippine History, heritage conservation) will not find much of our Filipino Identity in this island because of its internationalized look. Aside from a Catholic Church near Station 1, no bahay na bató, no historical site, and no Fil-hispanic touch could be found here. But enough about that for the moment! Borácay is all about partying!

But hey, this doesn’t mean that history is not worth mentioning in Borácay. The origin of this tropical resort’s name captures some interest. Many agree that Borácay was derived from the word borac, a local term which means cotton. Either cotton used to grow in this island in large quantities, or its powdery white sands had something to do with it.

Some say that Borácay originated from the word bora or bubbles. It is because of the foamy appearance that the waves make when it softly crashes onto the whitish sands. Aetas also claim that the island was named in part from the word sigáy, a type of seashell (could this be the rare puka shell?). Lastly, another theory says that Borácay was from the native term boay meaning vegetable seeds. It was said that Aeta tribes in the past used to plant vegetables within the island.

Borácay is not a huge island (just 10.32 km2), but small groups of Aeta tribes, then as now, inhabited it during the Spanish times. Perhaps due to Borácay’s small size, not to mention its small population of Aetas (who also had an uninviting reputation to live as highlanders), no religious mission was ever sent there. For better or for worse, the lack of a Westernized (or even Asian) community in the island’s history helped preserved its pristine beauty.

Sadly, what history did not do the island commercialization is now undoing. Various reports have been written and even broadcast about how “environmentally stressed” the island is nowadays due to an exploding number of private beach resorts and other commercial establishments. There is even a seaside mall there! Could this almost unstoppable influx of commercialization be the reason why the beach has an abnormal amount of algae every summer? Just asking.

Here’s hoping that Borácay will not be abused further by selfish profiteers. This is for the sake of future generations. Don’t we want to share this beach heaven with them?

Too bad. Me and Yeyette were planning to go back there this summer. But we have no housemaids (for about a month now!) to take care of the kids and our apartment. Oh yes, I do admit that —because of Borácay’s powdery white sands and romantic coastline— I am now a beach person, too! And I so miss Summer Place!

All I can do for now is reminisce last year’s Bora adventure.

NOTE: Please click on each photo to enlarge.

BORA 1BORA 2BORA 3BORA 4BORA 5BORA 6
BORA 7BORA 8BORA 9BORA 10BORA 11BORA 12
BORA 13BORA 14BORA 15BORA 16BORA 17BORA 18
BORA 19BORA 20BORA 21BORA 22BORA 23BORA 24

BORACAY, a set on Flickr.

Boracay’s algae bloom

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My body still feels like mush after our Boracay escapade. My wife fared even worse: aside from suffering a 39.8-degree fever, she had diarrhea last night. The high fever still lingers.

Was it really because of the heat? Or is it something else?

Years ago, I’ve heard news about “the end of Boracay” or something like that. I never paid much attention to it because I’ve never dreamt my entire life that I’d be there one day. But as an environmentalist, the feeling of disappointment was there. Boracay is an internationally famous island. To say that pollution has ruined it is a big chokeslam to our ecotourism industry.

During the last few years starting 1996, there have been scientific tests on the waters of Boracay. Shockingly, it was discovered that the waters of Boracay have high concentrations of coliform bacteria, scientifically known as Escherichia coli. The best evidence of this: the high incidence of algae bloom or lumot.

We’ve talked to many people there in Boracay. They claim that the lumot is normal and even seasonal. They say that the algae bloom lasts from December to May. From June to November, the beaches are free of lumot. Some even claim that the lumot is the source of Boracay’s world-famous powdery white sand.

But reports I’ve found in the internet say otherwise. So which is which? And is this algae bloom – E. coli the cause of our sickness and malaise?

For a 1,038-hectare island populated with over 12,000 inhabitants and visited by more than 75,000 tourists every year, Boracay is undoubtedly overpopulated and severely congested. I don’t think it’s water sewage system can hold this kind of setup. Somebody I spoke with in Puerto Galera a few years ago told me that this is Boracay’s curse. As a very small island with too much people, its sewage system will remain a disaster no matter what they do with it. I hope he’s mistaken because Boracay is such a beautiful island to be laid to waste.

Is there a cover up happening for the sake of tourism? Just asking.

After Boracay, a fever high…

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Me and wifey are sick since yesterday. High fever (my fever reached 38.1 degrees; hers is 39.8!). Joint and muscle pains. Severe headache. Classic case of trancazo. I attribute it to our last-day tour of White Beach (Station 3 to Station 1) when the El Niño was at its zenith. And we swam on the cold, clear waters of Boracay from time to time during that long walk. Overfatigue with heatstroke? Bad idea. So don’t ever try doing that when you go there.

Thank you, Willy’s!

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I would like to thank the staff of Willy’s Beach Club Hotel for the royalty treatment they feted us during the weekend. We had a beach blast from start to finish! Yeyette and I have experienced the best customer service ever! So once we get back to Boracay, Willy’s will definitely be our only choice.

Get to know more about this world-class resort here.

Willy's Beach Club Hotel is an absolutely beach-front hotel in Boracay's posh and quiet Station 1 area.

Back from Bora!

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La playa blanca polvorienta de Boracay.

Me and wifey are back from Boracay, the most beautiful beach these eyes have ever set upon! I will blog about it very soon!

Still in Bora!

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My feet are still buried in the lovely sands of Boracay!

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