The Many Faces of Boracay, the Popular Haven for Tourists

Vol. VII, No. 34, September 30-October 6, 2007

1. At first sight, one would not believe this is part of the world-known island of Boracay, in the southern Philippine province of Aklan. Inside this island-resort are thriving communities whose people are largely dependent on tourism, fishing and in most parts, copra and agriculture. In 1995, the annual growth rate for the more than 9,000 inhabitants was set at 9 percent which translates to more than 800 people a year. The boom in tourism in the island had spelled a bang in population as well.

2. The shady coconut trees, the powdery-white sand and blue, crystal-clear waters of Boracay had lured tourists since the 1980’s when Boracay island only had over 5,000 people. It is said that European tourists developed the 7-kilometer island, together with a handful of Filipino businessmen, thus, the number of restaurants for French tourists, Germans and Greeks. It was only recently, when fellow Asians have noticed in the small island restaurants that cater to Japanese, Koreans and those from Taiwan were put up. Filipinos on the other hand, remain as humble servers.

3. Small boats such as this one, prove to be handy for locals. It is used for fishing, transporting goods, for boat-skiing and also, even for relaxation for ordinary folks.

4. For a hefty forty pesos a piece, one could beat the heat of the sun with these age-old refreshments, fresh coconut juice straight from the fruit. In order to sell, this man has to ride his small boat and go by every pump-boat that takes tourists around the island.

5. Aetas are common sight in Boracay. Over 180 Aetas live on a 1-hectare lot in the island, a piece being contested by a politician in Aklan. In 1996, the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples had ruled that the Aetas can stay and underlined that over 1,038 hectare-island was first inhabited by the Aetas. Development and tourism had evicted them and forced them to relocate in the interior of the island. It is said that Aetas have learned to cope by working for establishments in the island. Here, an Aeta family has turned to begging.

6. Muslims on the other hand, are good entrepreneurs.

7. A few popular way to end the day in the island is to go for a swim, play at the beach, or simply, stroll while the sun sets.

8. When night comes, beachfront hotels light up in grandeur like this one. But what’s behind the picture? In a 1998 study by EcoPlan International-Canada, “free market capitalism has not promoted equal distribution of benefits (in the island),” it noted. Big developers have found their way into the booming tourism industry in Boracay, which has resulted to the “increasing consolidation of key businesses and control of scarce resources for well-capitalized investors,” it said. It mentioned major developers like Ayala, Fil-Estate and Primetown have put locals at risk of losing their own lands.

9. Inside and out, development is underway with the construction of big establishments in the island.

10. Tattoo and hair braid are two favorite activities
for tourists, along with massage. (

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