I grew up in Boracay Island and lived there for 12 years. It was not until I moved to Manila that I discovered how growing up on a tiny provincial island has impacted on my life.
My daily routine as a child in Boracay was going to school in the mornings and spending afternoons on the beach, drinking fresh mango shakes, running around the shore with the other children and watching the sunset.
I always knew that my upbringing was different from that of the other kids, but I never felt like I was missing out on some things. In fact, living on a provincial island has taught me values that would guide me, especially in the face of obstacles that may come my way as I grow older.
I remember improvising and making do with the little that I had. There were no toy stores in Boracay, so my friends and I would sometimes play games by making balls and tiny windmills out of coconut leaves.
Boracay is a melting pot that draws all kinds of people from different nationalities, cultures and religions. I made lasting friendships with many of them while we enjoyed ourselves in rock climbing, cliff jumping and night swimming. These were thrills I would probably never experience anywhere else. It was a childhood I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
Boracay has changed a lot. When my dad first arrived on the island over 30 years ago, there was no electricity. Although its charm and beauty remain in my heart, Boracay today is hardly the paradise where I took my first steps on its white, powdery sand, or watched the sunset.
Today, millions of tourists from around the world visit Boracay.
But now, I have also come to appreciate the same sun, the same sand and same sea more than I did before. It seemed that I had been taking for granted the calm ocean view, crisp air and glorious rays of the sun.
I wanted to experience more than what the four-kilometer-long White Beach and its environs offered. I was familiar with the surroundings, but although I couldn’t imagine a life outside Boracay, I wanted to see what else was beyond the country’s top tourist destination.
When my family moved to Manila, I seemed like a fish out of water. In the city, people walked faster, traffic moved slower, the streets were louder and the malls were fuller.
It shocked me for a while, but everything I had learned as a kid in Boracay prepared me to adapt to any situation.
I would always be grateful for the experience and memories that living in Boracay had given me. And every time I walk on the beach, drink a mango shake, build toys out of coconut leaves, and watch the sun set on the horizon, I am reminded of the fun and excitement of my childhood. —CONTRIBUTED