The local government of Malay, Aklan, has reinstated sandcastle making on Boracay’s famed beaches, a tradition put on hold since 2018 due to environmental concerns.
The practice had been a significant draw for tourists until the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) intervened, shutting down the activity along with a general closure of the island for rehabilitation. Sandcastle makers were specifically cited for using kerosene to illuminate their creations at night.
The sandcastles made a comeback on Sunday, September 17, coinciding with National Tourism Month. Demple Pagsuguiron, president of the Boracay Sandcastle Makers’ Association, expressed enthusiasm over the government’s decision. “We are happy that we have been given the chance to show our craft again,” she said.
New Regulations in Place
After deliberations between Malay Mayor Floribar Bautista and the DENR, Municipal Ordinance No. 505 was enacted, authored by Councilor Dante Pagsuguiron. The ordinance lays out a comprehensive set of rules:
- Sandcastle builders must wear identification cards.
- Smoking and drinking are not permitted in the area.
- The activity is allowed from 10 am to 10 pm, except during special events.
- Sandcastle makers are required to maintain proper grooming and be courteous to tourists.
- Kerosene, candles, and other flammable materials are banned; only solar lights can be used for illumination.
- The use of chemicals, cement, or other binding equipment is strictly prohibited.
- Charges for photographs with the sandcastles range from P20 to P50 per tourist, with customized designs costing between P1,000 and P3,000.
- Children under 10 are exempt from paying fees.
- Sandcastle builders residing in Barangay Yapak, Boracay, are restricted to their local beach.
- Sandcastles must be flattened, and the area cleaned up before leaving.
- Sand must not be transferred to other locations.
- A maximum of six sandcastle builders are allowed in any given area.
- Minors are not allowed to join the sandcastle builders’ group.
DENR-Western Visayas Director Livino Duran stated that the revival had been sanctioned with the stipulation that all builders strictly comply with these environmental measures.
Financial Uplift for the Community
Many members of the Boracay Sandcastle Makers’ Association are also involved in small-time trading, fishing, and construction. The lifting of the ban provides an alternative income source for these individuals and their families.
The resumption of sandcastle building represents not just a revival of a cultural tradition but also a step toward the economic well-being of the community, in a manner that aligns with sustainable tourism and environmental consciousness.