Pages: Boracay: Sand and sports

·3 min read

Last week, Jasmin, Jana and I flew to Caticlan. I’ve been a long-time visitor. Since I grew up in Bacolod and have family in Iloilo, we’d visit the nearby Panay island often.

My first “virgin paradise” sighting was in 1984 and here’s how I described that trip in a 2007 article:

“It was 23 years ago when my feet first touched the powder that sprinkled on this island. Then, there was no electricity. Rock bands did not rock your sleep until 3:17 a.m. No Greek or Indian or Portuguese cuisine tempted your tongue. No 18-hole golf course chased down the white ball into a six-inch-hole like Fairways and Bluewater. No Flying Fish or Banana Boat or Yamaha jet-skis floated. Boracay, in the 1980s and echoed by Madonna, was “Like A Virgin.”

Since that trip 38 years ago, we’ve visited Boracay almost every year. But for many reasons (Jana moving to Manila for college; the 2018 island rehabilitation; Covid-19), we had not gone back for eight years.

How did we remember Boracay before last week? I enumerated some complaints in 2005:

“First, the beach line was littered with garbage. Second, stray dogs ran amok and chased you everywhere. Third, ‘pump-boats’ docked as they pleased, often right straight at you while you’re swimming on the beach.”

How is Boracay in 2022?

It is much cleaner. We hardly noticed any garbage on the beach. Eating and drinking on the beach area are disallowed. No one smoked. Even the cots that used to parade the beachfront are gone.

Traffic is absent. In our previous visits, the small inner road was not cemented and was overcrowded. Now, the road is wide with sidewalks on both sides. E-trikes ferry you from the port to Station 2. The few vehicles allowed are colored white. People are disciplined.

Boracay is more family-friendly. The island used to be infamous for its excessive party-going. Loud music reverberated everywhere; people got drunk—vomiting by the beach. Now, that’s gone. Sure, there are still bars (Summer Place was nice; so were OM Bar and the Wave in Henann), but they’re more controlled. The partying and drinking do not extend and spill over to the beach. And despite the deluge of visitors—possibly 200,000 this April—the island is huge and there’s space for everyone.

SPORTS. The sport that my daughter Jana enjoyed most was Beach Tennis. Right beside the resort we stayed in (Station 1) was a Beach Tennis court. Like beach volleyball, it’s 2-on-2. You use a wooden or Carbon racket (same size as pelota) with a soft tennis ball. It’s all volleys (no bouncing) and the scoring (love-15-30-40) is just like tennis.

Frisbee-throwing was another daily practice of Jana. There are plenty of other sports... football, beach volleyball, hiking, mountain-biking. The Stand Up paddle board was found everywhere. You can do kite-surfing, jet skiing, kayaking, windsurfing etc.

But the best sport is still swimming. It’s for free and your swimming pool is God’s gift of nature—the powdery white sand beach that stretches 4 kms. long.

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