Sometimes, beauty flutters in what is ephemeral. Like the sunset or the changing of seasons, the temporariness of nature must be treasured and appreciated with our eyes open so that its beauty can seep in through our heart and soul. This is how, in just one day (and for the second time around), I discovered Boracay, the paradise here on earth. So they say. Note-worthy enough, I just found out that you can actually enjoy the island without pulling some dough in your pocket. For a tight-fisted tourist like me, it worked. How?
1. Connection. I was just fortunate to have been invited by my student, Anafel, who is a Boracay resident. The four of us (me and my other students Mark, Nike and her sister Maris) are from Antique, so the four-hour ride to Caticlan emblazoned the backpackers in us. Upon arriving at the jetty port, we were met by Anafel’s brother who took us inside the terminal going to Boracay. However, before boarding, we were asked if the four of us are Aklan residents (to spare us from paying the environmental and terminal fees). Unfortunately, Mark and I were honest enough to answer “Antique.” This would remind me to at least learn a simple Akeanon language like “Siin”, which means “Where.” And we found ourselves going back outside to pay Php150 for the environmental and terminal fees. Lesson learned? When you want to save money for the fare, take yourself in as a resident and without swivelling back, sashay your way straight to the departure area. Well, just keep your fingers crossed. Free lunch, free dinner, free accommodation. Yeah, we were treated like tourists indeed. So, next time, make sure you befriend even a single resident you meet. And luck might conspire.
2. Not-really-a-tourist tourist. Never make yourself feel like a tourist. What I mean is, hey, no matter how world class Boracay is, you cannot shove away the fact that you’re still grounded on the same region where the island lies. As an Antiqueno, exult in the idea that really, it’s more fun in Panay. So, don’t treat yourself like those foreigners. Set your expectations and your standards a little bit low. Ride in a motorcycle, haggle with drivers, just let your eyes feast in the view. Do not overspend. d’Mall or d’Talipapa? Choose the latter. Bring your own food, or better yet, carry a bottle of mineral water with you. And for us who needed not spend our money for the food and accommodation, we always looked forward to an almost banquet-like meal back at Anafel’s house. We even had the chance to dine with the Chinese. That’s being a not-really-a-tourist tourist.
3. It’s not just the long beach. Long beach is what the residents call that stationed shoreline where the happenings take place. The white sand, the strip of restos and resorts, and the plethora of boutiques, booths, and all sorts of whatnots. Especially when summer gets to be the peak season, the long beach becomes crowded with diverse people. And for a wallflower like me, the area just didn’t fit my nature. See, the long beach is not the only attraction the island offers. It’s just so overrated. You can actually cavort to your eye’s content the 360 degree view of the island by climbing the Mt. Luho Viewpoint Park (Php60 for the entrance fee). And ascending Mt. Luho kind of turned my notion of Boracay from irksome to awesome. A visual treat right up the mountain that you would not even bother to go down. The captivating view reminded me of Hawaii in the film The Descendants. I thought to myself, so this is why they call the island “the paradise here on earth.” Yeah, I hated Boracay not until I climbed Mt. Luho. Moreso, you can take a dramatic stroll along the famous Puka Beach. This is the beach which actually made Boracay famous. Although we never stayed too long, it was enough for me to enjoy that Caribbean feel of the place. A postcard just came to life. One thing I could say about Mt. Luho and Puka Beach: Surreal. So next time you go to Boracay, explore other diverse attractions and activities of the island like the Zorb Park, ATV and buggy ride, bat and crystal caves, aviary farm and soon-to-open Trick Arts Museum and carnival rides. Gone are those days of banana boat ride and parasailing. Go cheap for once. You will never regret it.
4. Boracay Rhum is (not) only available in Boracay. True it is. Just to clarify the notion that Boracay Rhum is only available in Boracay, well, silly, it’s not. Just because it is named after the beach doesn’t mean it’s exclusive. Boracay Rhum is available at any stores nationwide. I think Boracay mix is not. There might be a confusion. But we never tried Boracay Mix though. But it’s good as Boracay Mix, I think. Good enough to knock our sober heads out.
Please see the Snaphots menu for the pics during my Boracay summer escapade. Thanks and enjoy!