If the title strikes you as a bit something straight from a soap opera, then I’ve already succeeded in conveying my sentiments. I approached my recent trip to Boracay two weeks ago with the same melodrama attached to telenovelas — yearning, apprehension, suspense, jubilation, love. Granted, a beach is a beach, nothing more. But when that beach is part of your home province and was your regular haunt — was, because you havenâ€™t visited it for an effing decade already — then a little melodrama is justifiable.
Yep, my family is from Aklan, proud mother of Boracay, and that is why in my childhood years I was able to enjoy the white sands almost every year. But somehow since I stepped into high school, I couldnâ€™t find the time to visit my old love. My trips to Kalibo, capital of Aklan didnâ€™t stop, which just made the yearning for the beach grow stronger — I often found myself just a two-hour ride and a short ferry trip away from Boracay!
So you could just imagine the almost surreal feeling I got when I disembarked from the rickety boat onto the fine, ivory sands dotted with…seaweed. Yeah, the whole (extended) family made the trip in Boracayâ€™s off-season — the merry month of August when tourists are relatively scarcer, the winds are fierce, the suntan is a near impossibility, the rain is intermittent, the waters are choppy, and the waves are huge (youâ€™ve got to experience being slammed back onto the shore after wading chin-high in the water just two seconds earlier!). At least, youâ€™ve got the beach all to yourselves.
How was world-renowned Boracay from the perspective of someone who went AWOL for ten years? Great, as always — the beach was magnificent, the nightlife was crazy, and the food was sumptuous — though I took some time to absorb the changes that have marked Boraâ€™s landscape since the last time I roamed it. Hereâ€™s a trifecta of them:
1) The small bamboo/nipa cottages have almost gone the way of the dodo. Most of them have been replaced by concrete inns and apartelles, not to mention the sprawling hotels (some of which have been developed by Koreans to accommodate…Koreans).
2) The windscreen/sandscreen/whatever installed on the beachfront wasnâ€™t pleasing to the eyes at first glance — hey, I want a clear view of the beach from the open area bar! — but youâ€™ve got to thank their presence when the windâ€™s slamming the shore and (1) the sandâ€™s not getting into your eyes, (2) the sandâ€™s not getting into your food, (3) the sandâ€™s not getting into your booze, and (4) your clothes are still on.
3) Dâ€™Mall. Or D-Mall. Or D*Mall (thatâ€™s what the beach sign says). Heck, letâ€™s just call it â€œThe Mallâ€. You and I might spell it differently, but weâ€™ll agree that this shopping complex makes Bora more sophisticated. Great shops, great buys; just make sure youâ€™ve got dough, as many products here are priced for the foreigner and his almighty dollar.
All in all, Boracay became more mature, more hectic, more urbanized. The Boracay I had known ten years ago was a bit more rustic. But of course, ten years ago I was still in grade school, so it might just be me.
The family (oops, I forgot — the extended family) split up and stayed in two separate places. The oldies had the privilege of lodging in the prestigious Fairways and Bluewater Resort, while the young ones checked in at the Paulazaros Inn. While not exactly a luxurious suite, the latter offers great rooms at an affordable price suited for mid-income vacationers. (Iâ€™m beginning to sound like a holiday plan salesman, so Iâ€™ll stop.) The inn is also a mere twenty secondsâ€™ walk from the beachfront, so I guess you can call the location convenient. While it doesnâ€™t have a view of the sea, you have a superb vista of the islandâ€™s little green mountain to compensate (why, you thought Boracay was flat?).
Whatâ€™s a sojourn at a tropical paradise without the booze and heart-thumping music? The two nights we spent at Boracay found me and my cousins drunk and dazed at two hubs of the islandâ€™s night life — the famous Cocomangas and Summer Place. Considering that the night before our trip to Bora was a tequila-laced one (at a wedding reception in mainland Aklan), that made for three straight hangover days for yours truly. Ah, the good life!…ends quite abruptly due to a wrecked liver, I guess.
Three days and two nights. Flew past my face so fast I canâ€™t even play back a good rewind. Therefore, the only option is to repeat those three days and two nights. They more than made up for the ten years of absence, and heck, they convinced me enough for a return trip…soon.
*You can also read this piece at Boracay.com.ph, a great new site created and maintained by my friend Jason Torres of Enthropia, the company I work with. (Yeah, the Corsarius is now a…yuppie.) If you’ve got the time, be one the first people to share your experiences and reviews of Boracay. Thanks, guys.