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Boracay: The Difference Between Growing Up And Just Getting Older

A weekend trip to Boracay as Tropical storm Urduja hit the region demonstrated why there really is so much to love about Boracay; and why something has to be done, both immediately and long term, to make this island paradise grow up, mature, and be sustainable. Whether that effort will come from the local government, the private sector, or both working hand in hand, remains to be seen. But the urgency of the matter can not be denied or ignored much longer. 

At the opening of the CityMall Boracay Cinemas

 


Flying to Boracay to attend the opening of the cinemas at the island's CityMall; I was warned that there was a tropical storm brewing in the Eastern Visayas. ABS has partnered with CityMalls nationwide in the setting up, managing & operating of their Cinemas. And before you raise your eyebrows at the thought of a Mall, or cinemas, on the island of Bora; know that the substantial number of local residents and workforce on the island have to travel all the way to Roxas City (a more than 3 hour drive) to enjoy popcorn and soda while watching a movie. 

As weekend visitors to the island, a movie date may be the last thing on our minds, but spare a thought for the people who live there day in and out. For them, a chance to sit back in a first class movie house to watch 'The Last Jedi' at the same time their friends back in Manila are watching the film, is a dream come true. The locals I talked to during the launch night were also excited about how, come MMFF time next week, they'd also have the opportunity to watch Vice Ganda on the big screen. So for the local population of Boracay, CityMall and the Cinemas are signs of how the island is developing and maturing, and they take great pride in this progress.

Leading the ribbon cutting at the CityMall Boracay Cinemas are Leonard and Bong Tirol


Saturday afternoon though brought dark skies and persistent rain, harbingers of the approaching storm. We've all seen the pictures and posts of the flooding and aftermath of Urduja; so I won't bother going into that. It's just that some in our party were stranded; and while obviously you made the best of a bad situation, it's crazy how potable water became an issue of urgency, and how transportation was stymied even after the storm had passed. 

The calm before the storm, Boracay at its best

 

We can take pride in how Condé Nast has tagged Boracay as one of the premier island destinations; but if the infrastructure on the island can't meet up with the standards of Bali or Siam Reap, then we're left just praying that the tourists arrive during a period of good weather and leave with the right impression. The very fragile truce that exists between the island and Nature was evident during the weekend - the sewerage and drainage system on the island cries for attention, and the mini-Holocaust the island had to endure shows just how prepared or sustainable the island is (or isn't). To their credit, the recovery efforts have been fast and organized; but I'm left thinking what could have been avoided, or what could be installed, so we aren't just left with depending on subsequent good weather to ameliorate the situation.

Boracay, I love you and I'll be back next week; but I pray that we act before it's really too late. You're too precious a prize to be developed in such a haphazard manner.