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Boracay, Time’s Up

Hollywood may have it’s Time’s Up movement dealing with the industry’s long history of sexual harassment; and here in the Philippines, it’s the week when our resort island of Boracay faces it’s own version of Time’s Up - this in response to the wanton development, and some would say, wholesale rape, of the once pristine island destination. And let’s be honest, for over a decade now, we’ve bewailed how the island has become, in President Duterte’s words, a cesspool - a beautiful island now overburdened by inadequate infrastructure to handle such basic needs as sewerage, garbage disposal, reliable roads and transportation, and beachfront protection and maintenance. 


READ: Once On This Island: A Boracay Native Laments The Alarming State of The Place He Calls Home


Photo by Alva Pratt on Unsplash

With his obvious love and regard for the Environment, Pres. Duterte has dared do what no other Chief Executive has had the political will to carry out; close down the island in order to carry out its much needed rehabilitation. And now that this closure - set for a minimum of six months—is just a few days away; are the steps needed to bring about a rationalisation of the island’s condition in place? The brave decision to shut down has been made, and now the issue of what to do with the closure to maximise repair and bring about the island’s ‘healing’ looms.


 Sailing by the stretch of the island where Spider House now stands

I spoke to longtime stakeholder in the island Edd Fuentes; and asked him, if he was in charge of a ‘Task Force Boracay for the Longterm Future’, what would be his priorities during this 6-month forced sabbatical?

1) There is no real working Drainage and Sewerage system, causing septic tanks to periodically block up, and the treatment of water before being expelled is non-existent.

2) Reclaim the beachfront structures violating the standing prohibition of no building within 25 + 5 meters of the Mean High Tide, and resolve issue about demolishing structures standing on wetlands and forest areas; plus ensure the widening of the roads is done efficiently and quickly.

3) Ensure all establishments are compliant with the rules. They are all there and are sound in theory. The issue historically was in executing them, and making sure they’re being followed.


The little lake across the road from D’Mall


The famous Boracay Grotto Rock Formation in earlier times.?


Inferred from his replies is that over the decades, the local government and responsible government agencies may have been lax, or turning a blind eye, when what has to enforced or complied with, is already set in stone. 

Hopefully, this six month hiatus will be the much needed opportunity for the island to ‘breathe’ and ‘heal’. Let’s not waste this chance to right the wrongs that have befallen our little version of paradise—it is too precious a treasure to have been developed the way it has, and if this closure is the price stakeholders have to pay, then let this be the first step towards ensuring the island has the bright future it deserves.