I was still in college when in I was first introduced to the sight of sun-worshipers and bikini-lovers who were tremendously enchanted with the magnificent nature of Boracay which I now consider my environmental home.
I went here upon the orders of Panay News Publisher Danny Fajardo to cover the swimsuit competition of Miss Universe 1994 (the 43rd Miss Universe Pageant) wherein the 1993 reigning Miss Universe Dayanara Torres of Puerto Rico came as a special guest of the island. It was also at that time when the management of Panay News decided to put up its Boracay bureau–with this writer as bureau chief–foreseeing the market that is becoming so strong with the influx of resorts and businesses that are starting to mushroom following events of national and international in scope being held in the island.
When I first stepped on Boracay shores, I knew that I would return to this paradise to perhaps build my own little paradise. That was a dream.
I went back few years after that and left a week later bringing in mind that same dream. And I came again and left again, and again, and again. I came to realize then that Boracay Island really has a strange effect on me, especially that white fine sand that awes everybody from the world over.
But as years go by, realizing the importance of the island to the country’s tourism and to the life and well-being of the people whose life and everything depend on it, that dream revolved to something different. Instead of dreaming to have a little paradise of my own in this lovely island, I told myself to just rather help and be a part to keep the well-being of the entire paradise-the paradise I consider my environmental home and the paradise, the same paradise, that would welcome me with its beauty and splendor every time I wish to be back to experience what nature is all about.
The birth of the newspaper, Boracay Informer (God bless its soul) in 2012, came as a soothing balm to this writer’s thirst to share personal point of view and just write about anything to make some wrongs right. This was viewed, however, by many as an insult or an attack rather than a way to see things like the way I see them in my perspective.
For instance, when I wrote about the way some people bastardize the island with the way they handle their trade at the front beach or the way they dispose their thrash, or the way some resorts handle their wastewater, it would always generate a negative impression that I was painting a bad picture of the island. For according to them, it was simply bad for tourism.
That was the very wrong in this island back then. When I wrote on the flooding happening then in some major streets and corners of Boracay (even without a rain) and called it “bumabahang tae,” people would raise their eyebrows and say it was an “overkill” and could project a bad image for the island. Well, thank God President Duterte created the Boracay Task Force to address the issues just like this one which water treatment companies back then beautifully call it “sewer manhole overflow.”
Is there hope to reverse the degradation in our beloved island? There is so much hope. Discipline, folks, requires a lifetime of practice and it requires us to follow good examples. And let us not look far. The rules and regulations now being implemented by the Task Force under the able management of DENR’s Natividad Bernardino is the launching pad for Boracay to move it towards ecological sustainability and reverse the adverse impacts brought about by unregulated development and blatant disregard of environmental laws.
Besides, as Bernardino emphasized, Boracay Island serves as the model of President Duterte in restructuring damaged tourism destinations such as the case now of El Nido and Coron in Palawan as well as Panglao in Bohol and Siargao in Surigao Del Norte.
It would be better, of course, if we will all be part of the change for a better and sustainable Boracay. Let discipline exist. But although discipline requires a lifetime of practice for us to make a better Boracay, we are still counting on everyone’s share. (Comments are welcome at [email protected])