Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan is back, and it's better than ever!
Better, as while the island’s pristine beauty and vitality are restored, lives of many people surrounding it likewise become better.
For more than two years of slowing down its economy due to rehabilitation and coronavirus pandemic, Boracay Island is now gradually bouncing back. It could be manifested by the number of tourist arrivals in the island, the opening of establishments and hotels, and the numerous trips of public and private vehicles passing the national roads going to and from Caticlan, a gateway to the world-famous island.
As the island is regaining its economy, many people in different industries who had once distressed by its closure, are likewise recovering and enjoying the new Boracay. This is true for Shiela Mae, Allan, Mike and Julia.
Thirty-six years old Shiela Mae Casis, a resident of Boracay Island, is starting to rebuild her life with her family in the island. Before the closure of Boracay due to rehabilitation, Shiela and her husband owned a boarding house and a sari-sari store, but due to the ‘25 + 5 meter easement rule' enforced by the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) on structures in the island, their livelihood was gone. Their hardship was added when coronavirus pandemic hit the country resulting to another closure of the island.
“Nagapasalamat kami nga nalampasan eon namon hato nga chapter it among kabuhi ag makara hay amat-amat nga nagabalik ro sigla it Boracay kaya kami hay amat-amat man nga nagabawi (We are so thankful that we survive and slowly recovering),” said Shiela Mae as she also expressed gratitude to the government and different private sectors for the assistance provided to the residents of Boracay during closures.
With perseverance, Shiela and her spouse managed to put up again a sari-sari store in their new home, where they
are relocated, with delivery services as they have explored also online selling since the pandemic closure.
For Allan Lim, who was a former tourism worker, has seen the comeback of the island as blessing in disguise as he has returned also to Boracay after almost two years of hiatus due to retrenchment from his previous job.
Currently, he is a time keeper in a hotel that is undergoing renovation and construction. Even though he was not able to return to his former job, he got to work in different field and opportunity.
“Bilang pamilyado nga tawo, importante nagakita ako para mabuhi ko akon nga pamilya, ag indi man ako lugi sa akon nga trabaho ngara dahil ok katama ag mayad ro pagdumaea, euwas nga naexplore ko ro iban nga klase it trabaho (As a family man, what is more important is I am earning for my family, and I am fortunate enough to have this job as everything is OK and we are well-managed by our employer, aside from the fact that I am able to explore other types of work) ,” he said enthusiastically.
Another person who experienced the impact of Boracay closures is Mike Palmon, a van owner and driver, traversing the Kalibo International Airport to Caticlan route and vice versa.
Mike purchased the van in instalment basis but before he could fully-paid the vehicle, Boracay was hit by two closures that gave him difficulty in fulfilling his obligation.
“Mayad eang, nagbukas eon ro Boracay sa mga turista ag nag-euwag eon ro pagpasueod it mga bisita. Kahit papano hay sige eon akon nga byahe ag nagakita eon ako (So thankful that Boracay is now open for tourist and requirements for the acceptance of guests have been relaxed. For this, I am now earning steadily) ,” said Mike and thanking his wife who like Shiela Mae explored the online selling to help him in his financial obligations especially for the van monthly amortization.
Meanwhile, Julia Oliva, who often visits the island for vacation as well as for work is happy that Boracay is now recovering and travel restrictions going to the island have been relaxed.
The 25-year old local tourist that found solitude and
relaxation in the island, indeed approved and agreed in the slogan, Boracay better than ever.
“Having been in the island way before the rehabilitation and after, I could say that Boracay today is better, cleaner and safer. Comparing the two, yes, the old Boracay was great in terms of night life, but if you are looking for real vacation and relaxation, Boracay today is way better,”Julia noted.
For the four of them, the rehabilitation of the island was indeed necessary for the benefit of everybody and thanking the outgoing President of the Republic of the Philippines Rodrigo Roa Duterte for his political will and care for the nation; if not, Boracay Island will remain a "cesspool."
“Kung uwa ginrehabilitate ni Presidente ro Boracay, sigurado dugyot eon ro Isla makara ag uwa na kami it balikan nga trabaho ag oportunidad pa (If the President did not rehabilitate Boracay, I’m sure the island will remain filthy and we have no work to return and opportunity),” Allan said.
“Ag regarding sa pandemic, uwa man it may gusto nga maigo kita it coronavirus ngarun, pero sa gihapon, nakita ag nabatyagan man namon nga uwa man kami ginpabay-an gid it gobyerno. Dapat mismo kita hay gatinguha man ag indi pag-iasa sa gobyerno tanan (And regarding to pandemic, no one wanted to be hid by this coronavirus, but still, we witnessed that the government did not take us for granted. We should likewise do our part and not rely always to the government),” Shieila Mae added.
Lesson learned for the three workers that nothing is permanent in this world. There should always a plan b in life and be proactive rather than reactive in responding in every hurdle of life.
Aklanons and the likes of Shiela Mae, Allan, Mike and Julia, have high hopes that the incoming administration will continue the legacy of President Duterte or make it better. (AAL/SQP/PIA-Aklan)