Boracay Island, 1994: Paradise Lost

May 1994, Boracay Island, Boracay Island was already known throughout the world for its world class powder white sand and clear blue waters. It was still “under-developed”, which allowed visitors to truly enjoy what nature had to offer. Most structures around were far from the beach, as there were only a handful of with cement foundations. There was no airport or any golf courses, and the definitely no large hotels.

Walking along the beach with my brother and nephew
Walking along the beach with my brother and nephew

My family and I arrived right after the 1994 Miss Universe Pageant, as we had noticed some contestants also arriving for a much needed break. This was when the event wasn’t yet controlled by Donald Trump and his hair. The evenings were quite enjoyable, and whatever music came from the nearby bars didn’t impede with the sounds of the night and the gentle crashing of the waves.

On a bamboo raft over the snorkeling area
On a bamboo raft over the snorkeling area

Boracay then was mainly a destination for diving, snorkeling and swimming at the beachside. The other offerings were a relaxing night life with great fresh seafood, and the Basura Bar (Trash Bar) was the only ‘disco’ in the area.

Climbing out of the underwater bar
Climbing out of the underwater bar

An interesting place was a bar built into an underwater cave, but the loud echoing sounds of the waves scared by nephew, so I had to take him up.

Pollution in Boracay now Photograph courtesy of Rappler
Pollution in Boracay now
Photograph courtesy of Rappler

Sad to say, the Boracay I knew is not there anymore. With concrete construction already climbing over the beach, and huge crowds (during peak season) cramming themselves into every nook and cranny. People now go there to party and not enjoy nature. How can you swim, when there is fear of the pollutants in the water? I remember, when you can just sit in the shallows and watch the fished swim around you.

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