This is perhaps the reason #LaBoracay has kept happening—on Labor Day, thousands from the young Filipino workforce converged on Boracay Island to blow their money for a weekend of nothing but fun.
People think it unwise and extravagant, but millennials are looking for moments, no matter the cost. This generation is willing to leapfrog from basic necessities to fulfillment (so poetic that we’re so depressed).
But if you think it’s all carefree fun, it’s actually not. As we say goodbye to 2016’s summer, we bring memories of #LaBoracay, and how it’s becoming more and more relevant.
The generation that gave birth to the phenomenon is one that’s aware, with a pulse on social issues. While it may have begun as a wild, wild weekend, laying waste to the best beach on the planet, it’s now maturing.
#LaBoracay has become more eco-friendly, as the local government required all the brands hosting events at the beachfront to commit to a coastal cleanup every morning, supplementing the work of locals who troop to the sands before the break of dawn to pick up trash.
For Nestea, one of the brands that have dominated Boracay this time of year for 19 years now, the hashtag #NesteaBeach became #NesteaLoveTheBeach, heralding a more environmental commitment—having as much or more fun with less waste.
Nestea gathered volunteers in the mornings of April 29-May 1 for an early morning cleanup, intensifying its practice of tidying up the beach one early morning. To make it more engaging, they made teams for the volunteers, and whichever picked up the most trash was given prizes. Athletes and celebrity endorsers like Jessy Mendiola gamely joined.
A team of divers also did underwater cleanup.
The brand partnered with Boracay Foundation Inc. in conducting a “refurbishment”—where volunteers planted corals on “tiles,” for breeding in coral nurseries. Over the years, BFI helped revive coral reefs in Boracay from 15 percent in 2009 to 33 percent in 2014.
Sam YG, one of the brand ambassadors, said: “What we are enjoying now is something that is given to us, so if we want the future generations to enjoy the sea, the beach, whatever place, it is our responsibility to take care of that.”
Nestea committed proceeds from its events to the purchase of a beach cleanup machine.
Sex ed on the beach
On April 30, nonprofit organization Red Whistle led 700-plus volunteers in a march on the Boracay shore, wearing red shirts with the words #SaveSexy, an HIV/AIDS awareness movement.
“It’s very hard to reach out to the young these days, to talk about sex, sexual health, more so HIV, so we had to devise a campaign that’s fun, cool, sexy,” said photographer Niccolo Cosme, among the leaders of the group.
“We’ve seen how much youth come here and party, and celebrate, and have fun, and make friends. We think that it’s a missed opportunity for such a timely and relevant cause [if we did not do this].”
#SaveSexy stokes curiosity yet is not threatening, explained Cosme. “It’s saving the concept of sexy—that sexy is confident, that sexy is conscious about their decision, sexy is knowing your status.”
The drive began three years ago as a guerrilla-type movement, crashing parties and giving away condoms. It added the march only last year.
This year, they had 30 core volunteers educating tourists about the facts of the disease in a competition designed like a race. People were given kits with information on HIV, condoms and a survey by Y-PEER that would measure their priorities on issues about sex. Those who answered the surveys were given the #SaveSexy shirts.
The march gathered both Pinoys and foreigners, the “straight” and the LGBT.
The prevalence of HIV in the country is still low—lower than 0.1 percent of the population—but the rise is exponential, said Dr. Kate Leyritana. “There is one new case every 55 minutes as per February, greater than 31,000 since we started monitoring in 1984. It’s not good.”
“The sad thing about it is we have the capacity to stop it, because this thing has been felt by many countries in the 1980s … and we have a clue as to what we can do.”
While it took on serious problems, of course, #LaBoracay still did not forget to give the millennials the time of their lives.
This year, Nestea once again held the beach volleyball tournament for universities from the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) schools to as far as Mindanao State University Tawi-Tawi.
Aside from that intercollegiate gathering, they’ve treated fans of this volleyball-loving nation to a “fantasy match” featuring household names in the sport. Three-time Nestea Beach Volleyball winner Jovelyn Gonzaga teamed up with Abi Marano, Rachelle Daquis and Mellisa Gohing (Team Plunge) to beat Team Chillax of Michele Gumabao, Bang Pineda, Cha Cruz and Ella de Jesus.
The brand also held a volleyball clinic.
Open all day long for those who just wanted to relax was the Nestea Chillax Lounge, treating the #LaBoracay crowd to the paraw sailing, free massage and coupons for three months’ worth of access to iflix. To avail of these, one had only to buy the hip Nestea pitchers—one of them said “Sana e-mail ka na lang para may attachment.”
It is a known fact that free stuff make an experience even more memorable, so freebie stations dotted Boracay. There were free sunscreens, food and drinks, even sandals and disposable towels. Brands cooked-up social media-based promos, too.
Inquirer joined an exclusive dinner on April 29 at Shangri-La Boracay introducing to the Philippines Moet & Chandon Ice Imperial, champagne that can be had on the rocks, targeting millennials. According to Olga Azarcon of Moet Hennessy Philippines, aspirational brands like Moet & Chandon are beginning to accommodate the sensibilities of the young professionals nowadays, because they are less afraid of the expensive.
Back at the Boracay shoreline, Hennessy was among those that threw major gatherings. So many were these parties that some of them were only meters from each other. We also got in the Jungle Circuit Party, where Jose Cuervo put a blockbuster shower for partygoers who wanted to cool off.
A much-awaited party at #LaBoracay was the Zoukout. It is Singapore’s “definitive dance fest,” which for the first time held an overseas edition on April 30 and May 1. It was a must-go “for all nations,” as it markets itself.
Very much like #LaBoracay—a giant weekend party for all people who want to have responsible fun. RC