Sunday, August 5, 2007

Boracay Memories (Part 1)

Hoo hummm! Why do you (family and friends – my avid readers) keep asking me about Boracay? As if any of you or your 1-year olds have not been there yet! Anyway, I feel I am subservient today, so I will oblige. Here goes my “Boracay Pages” as many of you want me to call it. Gosh!

I first sat foot on this now famous island in 1985. And yes of course, those days when Mom and Dad and “Grampa” would worry where I was, who I was with, and what were I/we doing at 6PM of any day cuz “abuela” won’t cease nagging them (even during angelus) as to where her grandest grandson was, who I was with, and what I was doing, and if I have already partaken of my supper, and if I have washed and changed into my pajamas, and if I already said my evening prayers. Ahh!

So, my dear cousin 3.5, are you happy am starting to reveal my life to the world? Am sure you are, hayup ka!

Come to think of it, I suddenly felt a bit nostalgically moved after saying that paragraph(above). What with all of them “my heroes” gone away from our recent chaotic world. I do miss mi abuela! Anyway, to keep me jolly and finish this (another) long article, I will have to insert this message (as if they have a way of reading this hehe)… “Mom, Dad, Grampa, Abuela… if San Pedro will allow you, do leave a comment by clicking the link below at the end of this article” hehehe! Waaaaaahhhh! I can just imagine the responses: “wen my darling, wuuun”, “of course my son… of course… yana largo?”, “hai hai, ee desu ne!” and “syempre mi solamente hijo… syempre… pronto”!

Here’s what I have to say about Boracay… (so help me god?)!

After having been there more than 40 times since 1985, I have less and less interest in being back there just to see the place and experience the pace. These days, my excitement in going there and being there, is always derived from who I am going there with. That means I will be happy if my companions were happy having gone there – and they usually are. Alas, every time I go, I always see something I don’t like. So that explains my indifference about Boracay. No, I cannot be talking and campaigning about how bad it is because “bad” is relative. Unless all of you people have been there in 1985 or earlier, right?!

My First visit
It was an adventure, really! This was 1985 where all flights were only to Kalibo on Philippine Airlines. There were no air-conditioned buses yet. The only transportation available was either you take the many Sarao Jeepneys or the (non-air-conditioned) bus to Caticlan from the Kalibo airport. Oh yes, back then, them buses and jeeps were allowed to pile up in front of the airport. On the jeeps, you sit side-by-side with fellow tourists and/or locals, but along the supposed aisles of the jeeps would either be sacks of rice, or cases of beer or even boat engines. On the bus, it was nothing far. The aisles would also have an assortment of cargoes like cases of softdrinks, sacks of rice or a poor little piglet whose feet were bound together (and it kept wailing) and some chickens with all their feet tied into a single bundle (but they were not noisy).

Bus or jeep, the more adventurous folks would usually clamber to the roof top of the vehicle and take their traveling positions there. Why? Because people, especially the men folk, considered it more spacious and breezy. Plus, you definitely won’t catch most of the dust up there, the way all passengers inside the bus would. Why the dust? Because the paved road ran for only a few kilometers off Kalibo. The rest was a bumpy dirt road run to Caticlan which took from 3 to 4 hours of travel with sporadic relief during passes on short paved roads when we would pass by town or barrio centers.

I remember this first Boracay trip was on a June 5, about a day or two from start of classes. So the children we saw walking by the roadsides were mostly in their crisp new school uniforms mostly with new school bags and shoes. Interesting!

On this first trip too, we chose the bus as we all believed we wouldn’t easily get dizzy on the road trip because we were all facing front with an easy catch of the outside wind – as compared to riding the jeeps. Oh my window seat was fine at about the middle section of the bus. But I was near the little pig that kept wailing! The passenger beside me was a travel companion whose feet were millimeters away from the little pig’s body laden on its side by the aisle. Oh, two of our companions were able to grab a seat nearer the front – and they were beside the poor little chickens that they said had this terrified and desperately begging look in their eyes as if saying “please free us”! Ah I can’t recall the bus fare but if it wasn’t P140, it must have been P40! I just remember the number 4.

Road-wise, even if it was generally bumpy or muddy or dusty, we thought the views were an exhilarating series of rural sceneries. And we most especially liked the few kilometers on approach to Caticlan where the hills were still being bulldozed to give way for a wider road, and the trees were felled so that they revealed a grand top view of the sea and the beaches just above Caticlan.

On arrival at Caticlan, it was a merry hop-and-skip walk amidst mud and puddles to the beach entrance where there was a very long bamboo pole as traffic bar or barrier and beside it was a little nipa hut of a guard house where everyone must write their names and addresses then pay one peso (yes, just ONE PESO) as some kind of a toll or whatever it is the government then would like to call it, then proceed to ride any of the waiting motorized bancas – usually commissioned by the resort that the guests were staying at.

There were 7 of us on our boat c/o the “Pearl Of The Pacific 1” – me and my 3 companions, a Japanese couple and a German dude who was alone. Take note of the number “1”. At this time, our resort was planning to build another resort also called “Pearl of the Pacific” but (considered at that time) far to the north if the island and that they wanted to call it “Pearl Of the Pacific 2”. All eyes were on us as we boarded the boat since Pearl Of The Pacific was one of the more (if not the most) affluent resorts then. And we arrived on the beach fronting Pearl of the Pacific 1. There was no Boat Station 3 nor Boat Station 2 nor 1. Everything was just a fine long stretch of soft white sand. Descent from our boat was via a plank that touches the sand but also splashed with sea water courtesy of the little waves. So, those who did not want to get their feet wet yet, could ride free-of-charge on the sturdy shoulders of our boatmen and some of the resort crews. Two of the girls from the resort were on hand to meet and greet us. Oh yes, even at those early times they already wore uniforms – the Hawaiian style clothing with floral prints.

Ahh we finally arrived! And it was such a splendid feeling after the seemingly arduous trip from Kalibo.

The resort had very minimal concrete in and around it. There was no grand fence with different colors of paint. It was just a plain and simple rural hideaway. The frontage had plants and flowers amidst coconut trees where two or three hammocks were dangling from. And it had a very lovely view of the shimmering blue waters and white sand. Pearl of the Pacific 1, was actually just a row of little huts made of bamboo and nipa or cogon leaves. Let’s describe what this place was in more detail.

There were about six or seven rooms in our row. Walls, floors and everything else about it was made of bamboo. Every room had its little verandah with benches and tables also all made of bamboo. The floor was elevated to about two or three feet from the ground so you could see chickens and dogs down at the underside of the house when they pass by or come playing! Drop a coin inside your cottage and it would have surely found its way to the ground where you’ll have to crawl on the sand to retrieve it. Get the picture? The outside walls were nipa leaves “pawid” with bamboo as the support structure while internal dividers (i.e., the comfort room door or the wall between the room and the porch) was made of woven bamboo. Big windows on both sides of the room and like the door, all were screened to keep insects and mosquitoes out. These were not wire screens but the fine green meshes that people probably use as fishnets – or something like that.

The beds were of course also made of bamboo topped with soft mattresses, crisp white linens, fluffy pillows and a floral-designed bed cover. Even during those times, they already knew how to do comfortable beds. Hovering on each bed was a mosquito net. Yes, mosquito nets were in full force here during those times!

Now, the only portion with concrete – you guessed it right – were the comfort rooms! Each room had its own shower and no one here dreamed to have hot or cold shower as there was none! Water from those showers was salty. Drinking water came in pitchers brought by the resort crews to your rooms regularly or when you asked for it. If you needed a cold quench, you had to ask for ice from the crews.

That’s it? No, not yet! Let’s talk about your electric shavers! They were useless! Why, the whole island did not have electricity then – and frankly, call it weird, this is one of my best experiences in Boracay that I long for! Illumination during the night was fantastic! The paths leading to the resort were lined with torches. Our cottages each had some kind of a kerosene lantern hung at the porch and at least two little lamps for the room and the comfort room. That’s it!

Let’s take a little breather here for you to muster what must have been the picture of that Boracay… close your eyes… think of how beautiful the rural island was… then you can go to part 2 hehe!

1 comment :

  1. which place did you stay at in bora?