A Sprouting Hope for Boracay

By ‘Shane’

The author, who is known to the editorial staff here in Bacolod City, prefers to use a pen-name.

Boracay Island, Philippines [Wikimedia]

Boracay is just a tourist destination for many. But for people like me, our world revolves around it. I came here in January 2007 at the encouragement of my uncle to find work here, to be independent and to try to see what I wanted for myself. With my cousin’s assurance of the possibility of a job, I left my small business in Negros and came here instead. I found it simple to live here. No need to wear something extravagant just to fit in. Rich or poor, you could enjoy yourself and be friends with visitors from around the globe.

Boracay was just an innocent island for me then. But I was to discover in time that some dark things were and are happening. Prostitution is rampant. Some are infected by AIDS. Other issues include corruption, crime and drugs. It is quite difficult to resolve these issues. It needs government intervention. The situation may seem hopeless but we don’t give up.

I wanted to do something so I was encouraged to stay. This also helps me grow in self-confidence and sustain my family financially. I am part of the organization that helps save Boracay. The Boracaynons are the ones fighting for their cause and we are here to support them. We cry, ‘Save Boracay!’, ‘Boracay not Bora!’

The organization is trying to reach out to higher officials and bring its concerns to the media. I focus on the cleanliness and sanitation of the island and through Facebook, I let people know that Boracay is a wonderful place; that it does not deserve to be abused and eventually destroyed. My efforts are small but still contribute to the greater cause. We need to help save Boracay for future generations. Everything matters. We just have to do something.

Rock Formation in Boracay [Wikipedia]

I’m a nature lover. I see God in everything I do and in everything I see. He keeps me strong and holding on. I wasn’t born into a normal family. I grew up with my Lola and uncle. Despite that reality, I stayed positive. I became independent at a young age. Most of the time I needed to struggle so I would have something to call my own. I remain grateful that Lola and Uncle were there for me and that I was able to graduate from college. The Carmelite Missionaries and the Columbans also helped me survive. They let me feel God's love despite what was happening to me. God really works!

When I arrived in Boracay, my cousin was laid off from work and we didn’t have a place to stay in. It was raining. And it was my first time to sleep on a wet papag (a bamboo bed). We stayed at the place of my cousin’s friend, which was quite far from the center. For two weeks we woke up early and hunted for a job under the scorching heat of the sun. Within a week I had become thin and dark-skinned. I wanted to give up and go back to Negros but I thought that since I was already here I needed to show that I could do it. Thank God, within the month I was able to find a good job and transferred to a house near our workplace.

Sunset in Boracay [Wikipedia]

In Boracay I experienced being alone. For the past year I was into depression. I felt that I was alone; that no one loved me or cared about me; that I was disgusting, useless, everything that I should not be supposed to feel and say to myself. I used to pretend that I was okay and happy but deep inside I wasn’t . . . until I discovered this organization on the internet, ‘To write love on her arms’ (TWLOHA). It helped me a lot to understand my struggle. It helped me to be true to myself and be who I really am. I would also share their inspiring messages on my Facebook.

Then I realized that even my companions had gone or were going through great difficulties. I remembered what my nun friend told me, ‘If you find your struggle is bad, even worse is being experienced by others’. And here in Boracay I learned that it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, popular or not, white or black, pretty or ugly, or whatever nationality you are, all of us experience the same struggles in life… and we can be friends.  I thank God for bringing me here, that I was able to make it here.

Since I was a child, I have always believed in God and He has always shown me the way. Whenever I’m having a hard time, I don’t lose hope. And I think that's my purpose here – to give hope to others and to share the light with those in the shadow of darkness.

The Darker Side of Boracay

In her article above ‘Shane’ writes: ‘But I was to discover in time that some dark things were and are happening.’ This Al-Jezeera report from April 2014 shows one example of that: the situation of the Ati tribal people, almost certainly descended from the original inhabitants of the island.

You can read about the killing of Dexter Condes, mentioned in the video above, on a website of the Vincentians in the Philippines: Young Vincentian murdered.