Saving Boracay Island

By: Elle Quevedo

Today is the last day of closure. The anticipation is felt around the island. I visited a few establishments and walked the famous D’Mall where a mixture of stores, little shops, salons, pharmacies and restaurants are neatly packed together in one cozy location for the convenience of the tourists. The soft opening started on October 15, 2018. A few tourists and Aklanon locals were able to experience the still quite empty island whilst construction projects were apparent along the main road.

The closures of South East Asian islands are not uncommon. Some of Thailand’s famous islands were also closed by their government due to over tourism [see links at the end of this article for the news source]. Someone quoted that change is inevitable; progress is optional. This is quite true for what happened to Boracay Island early March this year. If you imagine a patient with a weakening pulse, that was what most locals felt after hearing the news of an impending closure with only less than a month to prepare for what to come next. Everybody was fully aware that change was about to happen. These days it is up to us, the patient in this medical scenario to either move forward with progress or be emotionally suspended in the lack of it.

Here in Paradise English, we kept our momentum to the best of our abilities. We took care of our own, followed the rules at hand and made sure our last remaining students were not affected by all the panic that surrounded the closure. We temporarily set up in Puerto Galera the month after. We served our students the same quality of teaching and experience as what it was back on the island. The different experience was definitely amazing. It had helped us to momentarily and literally take us away from worries of the unknown future at the time.

It’s pleasing to see a lot of common locals coming back from the hibernation of the closure. Businesses are now starting to open, rebuilding and renovating; to say metaphorically they’re strengthening the pulse of their companies back on track. Surely, there were losses and heartaches that we could not discredit, but now I think it is also time to focus our gear to the healing of our dear Boracay and wish for everybody to cope better. We flow forth with progress and accept the change. How does one go about moving forward? We follow rules, we do our best to be better custodians of our environment and help each other now more than ever. We need to rebuild our community.

I urge you, dear tourists and especially our dear students to help us put the heartbeat back to our community. It is time to come back to us. Come back home to Boracay and experience the change with us!

Picture credit: Jack Jarilla

News sources:

Thailand is closing 3 more pristine islands due to ‘excessive tourism’