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Drivers, workers tread on happy tracks in Boracay anew

Tracks leading to Boracay Island are happier, again. There is a very good reason why simple folks in Boracay Island are happy and all smiles these days – they can tell that the island is on its way to recovery after all the challenges it has faced in the past years. Among these challenges were its closure in 2018 and the COVID-19 pandemic that persisted from 2020 to 2021, which brought a complete standstill to the life in the island. 

Sailboats as beach backdrop in Boracay. *(PIA Aklan photo)

They could tell, especially the drivers of multi-cabs and e-trikes plying different routes in the island, that Boracay is steadily on the path to recovery. This is evident in the daily earnings they are able to provide for their families.

“Ngayong 2023, nakabawi na ang isla dahil malaki na ang kita ng mga drivers ng multi-cab at e-trikes (This year 2023, the island has recovered because drivers of multi-cabs and e-trikes are earning more),” said John Pineda, Operations Manager of Boracay Land Transport Multi-Purpose Cooperative (BLTMPC).

The BLTMPC manages the operation of multi-cabs and lets the e-trike operators join their cooperative, although the units are owned individually.

Right now, the cooperative has 51 multi-cabs including the 11 new ones, while the e-trikes number is at 538.

E-trike plying Boracay streets ready for passengers. *(PIA Aklan photo)

With the influx of tourists, both local and foreign, to the island, Pineda noted that there is a constant flow of commuters and passengers. As a result, drivers of public utility vehicles on the island, including multi-cabs and e-trikes, are always in action.

A 62-year-old e-trike driver, Prudencio Vargas, noted that with the current influx of tourists in the island, he manages to earn sufficient income to provide for his family’s needs.

“Depende man lang sa diskarte it driver ron. Bisan gabayad it boundary sa E-trike operator, kon mahugod ka nga driver hay mabahoe man nga kita ro imong ikauli sa imong pamilya (It all depends on the driver. Even if one pays a daily boundary to the e-trike operator, if one is diligent, a substantial daily earning can be brought home),” Vargas said.

Wilfredo Rivera, a storekeeper, currently earns between P2,000.00 and P3,000.00 daily, which is an improvement from the P1,000.00 to P2,000.00 he made during the pandemic. However, prior to the pandemic, Rivera's daily earnings ranged from P6,000.00 to P8,000.00, with only two other sari-sari stores operating in Barangay Balabag. He noted that his current earnings have understandably decreased due to the presence of three additional stores in the vicinity.

Although individual earnings have seen a decline, it's worth mentioning that investors continue to flock to the island as its tourism industry gradually returns to its normal state. 

Take, for instance, Gani Martinez, a former Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in the Middle East, who decided to try his luck working on the island as part of an e-trike company during a vacation last year.

He is currently contemplating not returning to his previous overseas job because he is satisfied with his current monthly income. Martinez also highlighted the advantage of being able to return home anytime to be with his family, who reside on the mainland.

Abigail Bardeñas, a single mother who juggles work as a singer, DJ, event host, and certified divemaster also came to the Island to work four years ago and spent two years on lockdown on the Island.

Abigail as a divemaster and as a host in Boracay Island. *(Photo courtesy of Abigail Bardeñas)

“I dare say, it can still be better, but the worst is indeed over, and that is what keeps the people going.  I find myself fortunate enough to be juggling a few jobs here and there, and this sustains the cost of island living in Boracay which is quite a feat to take on. Rent and utilities take the most of the income, especially since I need a clean, comfortable, and warm place for me, my son, and our pets.  Other essentials still need to be spaced and I am still paying off debts incurred during the pandemic,” Gail said.

Needless to say, the prospects of these Aklanons are brighter.

As Governor Jose Enrique Miraflores said in his recent State of the Province Address (SOPA), Aklan’s tourism industry is on track to full recovery. He shared that by the end of 2023, tourist arrivals in Boracay Island could potentially reach the “all-time high” figure of 2,251,966 recorded pre-pandemic year of 2019, or possibly exceed it.

As of this time, Felix Delos Santos, Malay Municipal Chief Tourism Officer revealed that tourist arrivals for the first eight months of 2023 already reached 1,523,870.

He also revealed that the number of accredited accommodation establishments released by the Department of Tourism (DOT) has surged to 402, signaling a positive trend.

“These statistics undeniably affirm that we are making significant strides towards a complete recovery in our tourism sector. The future looks promising, and we are committed to continuing our efforts to ensure sustainable growth and prosperity in this vital industry,” said De Los Santos. (AGP/VGV/PIA Aklan)

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Venus Villanueva


Region 6

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