I’ve never been to Boracay until last weekend and if my sassy gay friend didn’t badger me into going, I would’ve gone on with my whole uncool, totally lame existence without ever having been to the most famous beach in the country. I love beaches and yes, I’m one of those people with the cliché dream of living out the rest of my days by the sea. I generally hate crowds though; I get a headache from wading through a chaotic swarm of people. Boracay’s reputation as a prime tourist spot with enough people coming in to overthrow a government at any given time is what kept me away from it. But I figured I might as well give it a shot to see what all the buzz is about.
1. I have a strong suspicion that it’s illegal to have a vacant lot in Boracay or at least in White Beach. Every possible square inch of space from Stations 1 to 3 is crammed with hotels, bars, restaurants, dive shops, tattoo shops, massage stations, cornrow braiding stations, food stalls, beach apparel stores, and all forms of bric-a-brac shops in varying levels of kitsch. And construction is still ongoing; a big hotel currently has a fenced off area with a banner that says “we will soon have a new dining experience for you” or something to that effect. Right, because Boracay can never have too many venues for “a new dining experience.” Never mind that it’s already teeming with enough restaurants and buffets to feed the entire population of Panay Island. And really, unless people are going to be eating upside down in zero gravity with food served by Martians, I highly doubt that it’s that much of a new experience anyway.
2. Boracay seems to be perpetually preparing for a looming battle at sea waged by sailboats. There’s always an armada of motorized boats on the beach, much like when the Greek ships of Menelaus swarmed on the shores of Troy. Even Puka Beach on the northernmost end of Boracay has heavy boat traffic due to the continuous arrival and departure of island hopping tourists. I’ve read on travel blogs that Puka Beach is supposed to be the much quieter part of the island but with all the boats coming and going all the time, the atmosphere there was more of a busy jetty.
3. Silver Swan, Fudgee Bar, Hansel and Champion are some of the popular brands of soy sauce, snack food and detergent on the island as evidenced by the abundance of their empty sachets floating on the water and littering the beach. Swimming becomes much more fun and exciting when these pieces of plastic suddenly hit your face or get tangled in your arm. I also noticed what looked like the remains of a diaper being tossed by the waves but I didn’t fancy examining it to ascertain the brand.
4. It seems to be a crime to not have blaring music on the beach. In the afternoon, the playlist often includes Lady Gaga declaring she was born that way, Madonna singing flirtatiously that she feels just like a virgin, and Beyonce belting out her wishful thinking that girls run the world. (Sadly Beyonce, it’s the rich and powerful who actually run the world and in a lot of places, they still happen to be boys.) I even got lucky last Sunday and heard the acoustic version of Justin Bieber’s seminal masterpiece, Baby. By early evening, local singers start giving their soulful renditions of anything from the classic songbooks of Journey and The Beatles to the latest hits of Bruno Mars. Just when I thought the song Grenade couldn’t get any cheesier, it did.
5. The Pinoy guy from Black Eyed Peas was the DJ in a bar we went to and this supposedly explains why I had to pay quadruple the price of a bottle of Red Horse stallion. Which is why I only had one bottle of beer that night. There’s no way in hell I’m shelling out that much money for cheap beer just because some famous dude is yelling “Rock your body!” and “Hey sexy ladies!” on the DJ’s booth. The following night, I bought a bottle of San Mig in our hostel for P30 and drank it in our room while reading A Clash of Kings and I couldn’t be happier. I know, I know, it’s the ultimate loser thing to do in Boracay but a cold bottle of Pale Pilsen is just as awesome no matter where you drink it. But it’s even more awesome if it’s cheap.
All of this ranting sounds like I had a miserable time in Boracay and I have to admit, it is one place I won’t mind never going back to. But I actually spent a lot of time laughing my ass off, thanks to my sassy gay friend. I also managed to do a lot of swimming (pieces of plastic getting tangled in my arm notwithstanding), play in the sand, get a mean sunburn, befriend a couple of locals and stuff my face with food. It was not the best trip ever but I still had my kind of fun.