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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Boracay...A Vanishing Beauty?

In 1990, Boracay was voted by the BMW Tropical Beach Handbook as one of the best beaches in the world and again in 1996 by British publication TV Quick as the world's number one tropical beach. Today, Boracay is still one of the top destinations among Filipinos and foreigners as well.
In 2007, my wife and I, together with some friends went here see the beauty of Boracay and experience it at its best. We stayed in a hotel located in Station 2 were most of the tourist stayed. The fine sand of the beach is awesome, the water is so clear and yet why I didn't soak myself into the water. Nightlife?, that's another story, I just slept all night, I just let my wife and friends enjoy the night. There were giant sand castles then and for a few pesos you could posed for a few photos.  Honestly, I did not enjoy much of my stay there, so I regret it now.

After 4 years, we went back in Boracay for another vacation, this time we stayed in a hotel located in Station 1, were most of celebrities and foreigners stayed. Actually, hotel accommodations at Station 1 is more affordable than before.

But I noticed that there is something wrong that is happening in the beach, a very noticeable changes. The sand is eroding and sewage pipes are now exposed. In fact woods are placed around some manholes to hide it from tourists, but the truth is, it will not hide nor solve the real problem of the island. For the past years the white sand of Boracay was eaten by the sea. Is it because of climate change or the over-development of the island?. I guess both.

United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in its climate change publications, said that for every centimeter rise in sea level results in a one-meter beach erosion. From climate change alone, a portion of Boracay's white beach vanished, wiped out by the sea. Resorts whose seawalls built too close to the shore also contribute to sand erosion.

Over-development adds to the pressing problems faced by the island. There are massive violations of building guidelines along the beach.  Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) was unveiled in 2008 that would help regulate the development of the island and save it from further deterioration. Is it being implemented?, I am not sure. In our country, most of the laws, guidelines and ordinances were not implemented properly, it just remain written on a piece of paper.

Boats destroy corrals, sand miners may be still  in the land, tourists disregard concerns on our environment and corruption in our government contribute to the present and alarming problem(s) of Boracay. For sure, more tourists will come and go in Boracay and perhaps many of them will not notice the (bad) changes that is happening in Boracay or maybe they don't just care. I envy my friend who saw the virgin island of Boracay in 1987. He said that the white sand of the island was wider compare to its present state, maybe more than half of it were gone. I wish I could travel back in time.

I always love to go to an unexplored, untouched island. A pristine island is so rare to find, when found it is being shared to others. But sharing it may contribute in degrading and destroying an island, because it  became popular, it became the center of development and attraction and soon we will look again for another place to destroy.  It is always our responsibility to protect our environment so that the next generation will enjoy it too.

The white beach of Boracay is the reason why people go here, not the extravagant nightlife, not the water sports nor the henna tattoo which incidentally caused me an allergy. There are programs being done to mitigate the problems of Boracay, I hope it is not too late. Giant sand castles are long gone but I hope Boracay wont be another casualty of our carelessness and of this so called development.

© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use, edit, copy, reproduction, publication, duplication, download and distribution of any image may result in severe legal and criminal penalties under the law. The above photos were taken by Ricky Pascual and remain the properties of the photographer. Please do not use elsewhere without the owner’s permission.


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