My (forced) Boracay summer of 2013


PEARL of the Pacific beachfront

My first trip to Boracay was exactly 30 years ago. I stayed at the Pearl of the Pacific, Station 1. There was no electricity, no cold water even. But somehow you forgot all that as you viewed the beautiful, powder-fine white sand beach that seemed to stretch endlessly before you.

THE PEACE in Station 1

There were hardly any people then, so you could frolic around to your heart’s content, wear whatever you fancied, and strike a pose!

Five years ago, I went back and stayed in Station 2. It was a complete disaster! Food outlets—representing every cuisine in the world—now crowded the beachfront two layers deep. If you were lucky enough to get a spot to sunbathe in, your “moment” would have instantly vanished as a parade of vendors selling pearls, hats and sunglasses cast a constant shadow over your little piece of sun-splashed heaven, destroying your juju.


So, Boracay not only lost its charm for me, it disappeared from my list of destinations to visit or revisit.


Inevitable trip

But, then, my 17-year-old daughter Nicole has just graduated from high school and, as soon as the girls were officially congratulated, the entire auditorium began chanting “Bora… Bora…”

PRAWN Thermidor

Their minds were set; plans had been made months in advance. The Boracay trip had become tradition and they all eagerly looked forward to it. (Attention, parents: Stand down!)

Resigned to the fact that the Boracay trip was inevitable, I planned to follow on the second half of the trip—a form of penance for me!

I was booked at the Pearl and, when I arrived, my first thought was, long time, no see. That I had a beachfront, a 130-sq. m. suite with a balcony and living room, helped remove the edge. The Pearl, owned  by the Tirol-Sanson family and one of the first hotels built on Boracay, has the advantage of space and size that most of the other, newer hotels don’t have.

And I had also forgotten the wide beachfront it hugs, compared to that of the relatively new hotels. Somehow the unobstructed view beckons one to take a dip.

Tomato Buffalo Mozzarella Salad

My eight-year-old Madison (who takes to water like a fish) dragged me to the beach for what she called mother-daughter bonding. It’s the only beach I know where you seem to walk forever on dazzling white, cool sand, and it takes a good 50 yards before you reach neck-deep water. The energy was good and you feel like doing a strut.

Endless partying

I ran into everyone else before I finally saw Nicole. Yes, I did worry about the (in)famous 15 shots and the endless partying. But somehow the comfort and renewed feeling of enjoying Boracay for myself gave me a feeling of gladness that I had braved the trip.

CONVERGING AT PEARL Javi Guzman, Bianca Casals, Joaquin Atayde, Teo Cu-unjieng, Carmi Sto. Domingo, Nicole Thorp, Trish Menchaca

I was lucky to meet the owners of Pearl of the Pacific, Greg and Marilou, who talked about Boracay as their first playground when they were kids. They are in no rush to modernize the place to keep its charm.

Their menu clearly sticks to the bountiful seafood they feel is not only healthy but always fresh. I was lucky to sample their upcoming dishes, whipped up by a new chef.

I viewed Boracay with new eyes. It is still beautiful. But no matter how beautiful a place is, I feel that one’s accommodations and their location are key. That is what makes the juju. With my experience at the Pearl, my trauma is gone; the magic is back.

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  • mr dt


  • coty

    yeah Boracay the famous white beach island that started it all not by compulsion but by the sheer beauty of the island! as they say you build it and they will come! well not in Boracay’s case they came and so they build it! the white beach is still white, resorts of practically to every ones fancy abound and mushroomed all over. they are even putting up a subdivision! and yes it’s the in as “in” place to party all night! and yet there are still places so remotely known yet so accessible to keep away from the madding crowd! and please it will always be Boracay and never will it be bora! thanks much!

    • amapangarap

      finally! hahaha! Bora is soooooooo different from boracay.

  • Kronos2

    When I went first to Boracay in 2000, I was awed by its beauty and vowed to return, went back in 2003 and noticed that more resorts were constructed. I brought my partner with me in 2009 I swore it totally lost the beauty it once had. Too many resorts of any kind were constructed the simple Boracay I knew changed so much that will be my last time.

  • 1voxPopuli

    i first set foot on Bora in 1987, and boy it was surreal. endless white sands and yes by yourself. we would usually just stay day during the day – picnic style. my lola is from Makato a town from mainland Aklan and the travel to Bora then was unforgiving, nonetheless worth it when you get there.

    • AkeanonGid!

      B O R A C A Y NOT Bora!

  • Garry Garcia

    sorry Boracay has lost its magic and wont comeback due to commercialism

  • Tausog51

    Go to Boracay now otherwise you will be late as it is doomed for destruction in a matter of ten to fifteen years from now. The shoreline in station 2 and 3 are fast being eaten by water for various causes. Garbage in Boracay has never been addressed comprehensively and decisively. Used engine oil coming from transport vehicles, motorcycles and other forms of engine are just being thrown anywhere without a slight regard that used engine oil are pollutants. . Every now and then there is an outburst of violence as the police are undermanned, and despite the billions of pesos generated in the Philippine Economy ,y becasue of Boracay, yet the streets are not provided with CCTV cameras. There are no,pedestrain lanes and there is no discipline at all. To me Boracay is like Rome in the last days of the Roman Empire where people became hedonists extracting every pleasure and excitement of whatever kind because it will soon die.

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