I am so sure a lot of Filipino and foreign tourists are eager to return to Boracay, starting on its reopening date – October 26, 2018, to see and appreciate the changes in the island. First timers must likewise be looking forward to finally seeing Boracay.
Here are some relevant details which I researched to-date and my comments:
1.The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) recently announced that Boracay should have 19,000 tourist carrying capacity per day, based on the number of workers and the local population. The island can only accommodate a total of 55,000 people (local population, workers and tourists, combined).1
So, better book ahead of time! See a related post: Short and Simple: WHAT IS THE TOURIST CARRYING CAPACITY FOR BORACAY’S 2018 RE-OPENING?
2. A dry run is scheduled from October 15 – October 25, 2018. It will be open to local tourists, with priority given to Aklanons, in order to assess what else needs to be done before the island is reopened to all tourists, both domestic and foreign, on October 26.3
Great idea! Aklanons, the residents of the province of Aklan where the town of Malay is located, should indeed be given priority and their inputs, as stakeholders, would surely be valuable prior to Boracay’s formal opening date.
3. The government will publish a list of establishments that are compliant with environmental laws to make sure that only these businesses can accept tourists.1
The public must, therefore, wait for that list and book rooms only from such newly accredited establishments. Government authorities, please release the list asap so those eager to visit the island can make the necessary bookings since only a limited number of lodging establishments have been accredited to-date. I am calling on the website administrators of the local government unit and Department of Tourism (DoT)-Region VI and Malay offices to feature the accredited list for interested Boracay visitors, and to update it regularly to be tourist-friendly.
4. Only about 3,000-5,000 of the total 15,000 hotel rooms can be made available to tourists during the reopening date. The rest still need to comply with the new permits and accreditation requirements set by the multi-agency task force.1An estimated 50% (7,500 rooms) of the actual room capacity of the island is expected to be available by the end of 2018, according to DoT Regional Director Helen Catalbas.2
Dear tourists, be sure to book with newly accredited establishments only.
5. Big and noisy parties, like the summer festivity marking Labor Day, “LaBoracay” will no longer be allowed since the latter recorded 40,000-50,000 tourist arrivals, and resulted in over 100,000 people in the island at a time, nearly double Boracay’s total carrying capacity. Only smaller parties will be allowed so the rest of the island visitors will enjoy peace and quiet!1
Let’s reinvent “fun” in the island! There’s more fun in rehabilitated Boracay!
6. Smoking and drinking along theWhite Beach4 of Boracay will no longer be allowed. These activities will be allowed only in designated areas in hotels, resorts or similar forms of accommodation, and other hospitality establishments.1The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) announced that White Beach is already clean.2
I can’t wait to walk on this clean powdery white sand beach!
7. The municipality of Malay, to where Boracay belongs, passed Municipal Ordinance No. 386, Series of 2018, which prohibits the use of single-use, or disposable, plastic items by hotels, resorts, restaurants, and other related establishments.2
Welcome news, indeed! This leads to crucial questions like:should plastic be totally banned from the island? how about biodegradable plastics? The local government should provide segregated-style garbage cansin various areas, so tourists can properly dispose of their garbage in designated containers/areas only. Stiff fines for littering, especially on the beach, should also be set. How about bringing personal water bottles while going around the island? Dear tourists, do you have other suggestions on how we can help in this regard?
8. By the end of July 2018, road clearing and demotion of structures for the road widening project was about 85% complete, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The PHP490 million rehabilitation of the 4.12-km main road from Cagban Jetty Port, 5 minutes away from the Caticlan Airport (where boats leave for Boracay island), to the Elizalde property was 15% complete.2
So, early tourists, some roads will still be unfinished during reopening date; please be patient. But no worries, the 4-km White Beach4 will be open just for you! Your required daily 10,000 steps, when taken along this white sand beach, will surely not only be healthful for you, but memorable as well, with lots of selfies and group pictures, from sunrise to sunset!
9. Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III announced that rehabilitation will continue in the island and this includes the improvement in the quality of the water around the island. By the end of June 2018, the formerly brown and stinking water of Bulabog Beach5 was already “bluish” and with no unpleasant smell.3
Wonderful news indeed, especially for budget tourists, kiteboarders, windsurfers and scuba divers who go to Bulabog Beach.
10. The Environmental Management Bureau-Western Visayas (EMB-6) conducted daily and weekly statistics lab laboratory tests of the island’s water quality. The level of coliform concentration of the water in the front beach was already at the safe level of 400 MPN (most probable number) per 100 ml (milliliters).2
Thank you, EMB-6! Please continue to regularly monitor the water quality of the island!
11. Demolition activities, for the widening of roads, were about 65% complete as of end of June 2018.3 These involved removal of establishments which illegally encroached: on the 25+5 meter easement on the shore, on the water, forestlands, and wetlands.
This is great for Boracay’s sustainable tourism9!
12. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ordered all hotels, from Stations 16, 27 and 38 with 50 rooms and above, to have their own sewage treatment plants (STPs). Accommodations with less than 50 rooms were instructed to have a clustered STP, or opt to have their own STPs. Other sewage lines are still being laid out.1
The two water suppliers, Boracay Island Water Co. and Boracay Tubi Systems Inc., were ordered to expand the capacity of their respective STPs, and were encouraged to explore the best approaches and solutions to their sewage and wastewater problems. The sewage pipeline of Boracay Island Water Co., which serviced 4 large establishments and 76 smaller ones, was decommissioned since it violated the 25+5-meter easement rule and the no-build zone along the shoreline.
The total STP capacity of Boracay is only 12 million liters per day (MLD) but the wastewater to be treated is 15 MLD, and more than 200 big establishments are still not connected to the sewer lines.10
Hurry up, big and small establishments! To the two water suppliers, please comply with set STP rules and regulations. To DENR, please closely, and regularly, monitor their lines and adherence to rules/regulations.
13. About 8 international cruise ships have already scheduled stops in Boracay from when it reopens till 2019, according to Department of Tourism-Western Visayas (DoT-6) Regional Director Helen J. Catalbas (e.g., Royal Caribbean Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Star Cruises). They have been cleared by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regarding potential damage to underwater reefs. DENR explained that corals thrive in shallow waters, while cruise ships drop anchor in deeper parts of the sea. Thus, the anchorage of cruise ships will not cause damage to the corals.10
I am calling on the authorities to monitor these ships on our waters come the reopening period and beyond!Please provide the appropriate water transportation and trained personnel to access such waters, monitor these cruise ships, and ensure that they will not dump any waste/garbage in our seas while they are anchored in our waters!
14. Only electric tricycles (e-trikes) will be allowed in Boracay when it reopens. In this regard, the Department of Energy (DOE) initially donated 50 new e-trikes with long-lasting batteries, during the 2nd week of September 2018. to augment the 50 existing e-trikes on the island. This move aimed for an efficient and environment-friendly mode of transportation in Boracay. Each unit can carry 6-8 passengers. An extra battery was also given per unit to spare current tricycle drivers downtime when they start using them.The DOE will also deploy some electric passenger jeepneys on the island within September. Old tricycles will be phased out on the island in compliance with Executive Order No. 007-2018 issued by Malay Major Ceciron Cawaling. About a thousand tricycles in Boracay will be taken out of the island and changed to e-trikes, and brought to mainland Malay, particularly to2
Great news for our lungs! Less air pollution!
15. The Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force will formulate policies that will ensure that the rehabilitation efforts of the island can be sustained.2
Hurray for sustainable tourism9!
16. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Presidential Proclamation No. 1064 in 2006 which classified Boracay Island as a “forestland and agricultural land”.1President Rodrigo Duterte said that the island has never been open to any “commercial exploitation” and remains as a “forestland and agricultural land”. No president has declared the island as a commercial area. Thus, a committee to facilitate the land distribution in Boracay, after the rehabilitation of the island, will be created. Definitely, ownership issues will arise once the government is done with its clean-up of the island.10 But President Duterte vowed to bring Boracay back to its original inhabitants.
The rights of the original ethnic inhabitants must be respected!
17. President Duterte ordered the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to study how land could be redistributed to the locals through land reform. He said only the beach front can be used for commercial purposes but the rest of the island would be subjected to land reform. Some 400 hectares of forestland will be restored by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), according to DAR Secretary John Castriciones.1 The latter said that about 20-25 hectares are ready for redistribution but that the other agricultural lots will take time because there are structures built on this government land.
Just give what is due the original inhabitants!
Bottomline, the DILG and DOT want Boracay to be clean and become a peaceful and enjoyable island get-away.1 DOT Regional Director Helen Catalbas said Boracay is envisioned to have “a very clean beach, wider streets and less potholes.” The reopening will be “low key” because “rehabilitation is a work in progress.”2
So, what can we expect when Boracay reopens come October 26, 2018? Well, based on the above, we will be looking forward to:
- A cleaner and more peaceful white sand beach with the correct easement of 25+5 meters for all to enjoy without any obstruction — good for walks from sunrise till sunset;
- Clean water to swim in, without fear of coliform or illegal sewage disposal;
- The strict implementation of the tourist carrying capacity, i.e., only 19,000 tourists per day in the island;
- Wider paved streets with sidewalks for pedestrians;
- A better drainage system and preservation of wetlands that are well-maintained so that the streets will not be easily flooded;
- E-jeepneys and E-trikes as public transportation so there will be less air pollution;
- The two water suppliers, Boracay Island Water Co. and Boracay Tubi Systems Inc., will get their act together to ensure a proper and safe sewerage system;
- A more conscious and responsible community (tourists, businesses, employees and local residents) united to protect the environment and follow rules and regulations for sustainable tourism9;
- Eventually, all commercial establishments, owners and employees, will comply with the government requirements to operate;
- No casino in the island! President Duterte said “There will never be one!” and that gambling has “deleterious effects” and should be reduced to the “barest minimum”;11
- A more responsible local government which will be strict in enforcing rules and regulations set by the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force;
- A more understanding, cooperative and responsible domestic or foreign tourist who appreciates the efforts of the national/local government so s/he will not mind stricter rules/regulations as well as on-going rehabilitation projects in the island for the rest of 2018, or until all rehabilitation plans have been implemented;
- An island which is still being rehabilitated and starting to recover, or “heal”, from mass tourism and environmental problems;
- A successful sustainable tourism9 and sustainable transportation12 program for the island, and for the next generations to enjoy as well; and,
- An island for the aborigines who may have been displaced due to mass tourism. The government, once and for all, should clear all land title issues and give the aborigines what is rightfully theirs, extend all possible assistance for their decent livelihood, and a better future for their next generations!
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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:
4The White Beach of Boracay refers to the main, biggest, and most popular beach area of island. It is divided into Stations 1, 2 and 3.6, 7, 8
5Bulabog Beach is the second most popular beach in Boracay since it is the main windsurfing and kiteboarding area, particularly from October till May, with just the right strength of the wind and waves. Scuba diving is also offered in this beach, located at the eastern part of Boracay. It is located at the opposite end of White Beach4, about 5 minutes walking distance from D’Mall in Station 27.
6Station 1 is the north end of White Beach4 of Boracay which is where the luxurious resorts are located. This station’s beach front is wider, the sand seems whiter, and the water is shallower, compared to the two other stations. It is a quiet station at night, although it has clubs within walking distance. Willy’s Rock, a natural rock formation and an iconic Boracay landmark, is located in this station. The sand castle designed with “Boracay” and the current date, where one can pose for a picture, for a fee, is also found in this station. City Mall Boracay, which opened on February 25, 20171, is likewise located here.
7Station 2 is the central part of White Beach4 in the island of Boracay. The water is less shallow than Station1. It offers an active night life (bars and clubs that may offer live music), mid-range priced accommodations, and is known as the shopping area of the island, what with D’Mall (the original shopping area in Boracay), and D’Talipapa (an area which offers local souvenir items, plusa seafood wet market with nearby restaurants to cook your picks).
8Station 3 is located at the opposite end of Station 16 of Boracay’s White Beach4, known to offer budget accommodations, but also features boutique and other secluded/high-end accommodations. The water becomes suddenly deep. It is a quiet station, compared to the first 2 stations, although it offers some bars and clubs too.
9Sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting a destination as a tourist and trying to make a positive impact on the environment13, society, and economy. Tourism development should always be sustainable but how to achieve this is debatable, according to Wikipedia page “Sustainable tourism”.14
12Sustainable transportation, or sustainable mobility, refers to transportation that is sustainable in terms of social, environmental and climate impacts, and the ability to, in the global scope, supply the source energy indefinitely, according to the Wikipedia page “Sustainable transport”.15
13The impact on the environment, or environmental issues, refers to the harmful effects of human activity on the biophysical environment16, according to the Wikipedia page “Environmental issue.”17
14“Sustainable tourism,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_tourism.
15“Sustainable transport,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_transport.
16The human impact on the environment includes the changes to biophysical environments18 and ecosystems19, biodiversity20, and natural resources, caused directly or indirectly by humans, including global warming21, environmental degradation22, mass extinction and biodiversity loss, ecological crises, and ecological collapse, according to the Wikipedia page “Human impact on the environment”.23
17“Environmental issue,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_issue.
18A biophysical environment of a population refers to the (living and non-living) surroundings of a population, and consequently includes the factors that have an influence in its survival, development and evolution, according to the Wikipedia page “Biophysical environment”.24
19An ecosystem is a community made up of living organisms and non-living components (air, mineral soil and water), according to the Wikipedia page “Ecosystem”.25
20Biodiversity refers to the variety and variability of life on Earth, according to the Wikipedia page “Biodiversity”.26
21Global warming, or climate change, is the observed century-scale rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system and its related effects, according to the Wikipedia page “Global warming”.27
22Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through the depletion of resources such as air, soil and water; the destruction of ecosystems20; habitat destruction; the extinction of wildlife; and pollution, according to the Wikipedia page “Environmental degradation”.28
23“Human impact on the environment,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_impact_on_the_environment.
24“Biophysical environment,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biophysical_environment.
25“Ecosystem,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecosystem.
26“Biodiversity,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiversity.
27“Global warming,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming.
28“Environmental degradation,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_degradation.