Inside Boracay: Week 11 & 12

Inside Boracay: Week 11 of Closure

A Double edition to cover Inside Boracay: Week 11 and 12.  Week 11 has been relatively quiet in terms of progress on the rehabilitation but there have been a number of meetings and announcements from the Senate Hearing and Island Taskforce.

  • Boracay no longer deserving of the tag “Cesspool”
  • DOLE to adjust the application requirements for financial aid programs
  • San Miguel offer to build Boracay a bridge
  • Update to Road Widening

Inside Boracay: Week 11

Inside Boracay: week 11 – July 9 Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu states that the tag “cesspool” is “no longer” applicable to Boracay.

During DENR’s 31st Anniversary Cimatu stated “I am very definite on that and the White Beach is already clean…..We have all the daily and weekly monitoring results (on the water). It is now lower (below) than the standard, compared (to) before when it was erratic. It is more steady now……We are on target and we will really go with the target (26th October for re-opening). We are only waiting for the finishing of the roads and implementing of all the decongestion in the area. We are almost there.”

President Duterte has further expanded on his plan to re-assess ownership of Boracay Land: “the problem is how to determine who owns what. That’s the problem now. So there has to be a committee to be fair to everybody. From the local government then from the origins of any title there.”

Inside Boracay: Week 11 – July 9 DOLE advise they will adjust the requirements for Financial Aid

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III advised today that the Department of Labour and Employment will shortly simplify the current requirements for applying for Financial Aid under the Boracay Emergency Employment Program’s (BEEP) Adjustment Measures Program (AMP).   One of the elements that will be adjusted is that of the need for recipients to have a Cash Card, through the Land Bank of the Philippines.  The nearest branch of this particular bank, is located in Kalibo; 2.5hrs journey from Boracay.  Of the 10,000 people who had applied for the financial assistance, only 2,500 have received their Cash Cards from the bank, with 4,000 people still waiting for their cards to be released.  Labor Secretary, Silvestre Bello III, has stated that he wishes for the aid to be available as cash payments as well. DOLE 6 Regional Director, Johnson Cañete has advised that the department will look to make the submissions process, for people to qualify to continue to receive monthly payments, simpler too.  Currently, workers are required to submit a beneficiary progress report, two lots of proof of their active search for employment or a job contract each month, and proof of attendance at any government conducted training course in the first and fourth months.

Inside Boracay: Week 11 – anger from Netizens on Social Media re: photos of European visitors swimming in Boracay

Various photos were shared across Facebook, by Netizen’s, angry that there appeared to be Western tourists visiting Boracay, during the closure on Wednesday 5th July.

Inside Boracay: Week 11 Photo Credit Energy Fm 107.7 Kalibo
Inside Boracay: Week 11 Photo Credit Energy Fm 107.7 Kalibo

The Philippine National Police (PNP), Regional Office 6, released a statement to confirm that the group was a contingency of 21 European delegates visiting the country for GenFest, an International youth conference. 

PSupt. Joem Malong, PR06 Spokesman, advised that the visit to Boracay was part of the GenFest delegates itinerary.  Adding all necessary Security Clearances were undertaken and the delegates were accompanied by Police representatives throughout their visit.   The delegates visited Boracay’s Ati Village, in order to learn about the tribes culture and history.  Afterwards they took a 30 minute dip, at the designated swimming zone Station 1, before returning to Kalibo and then Manila for the main element of GenFest.  

Spokesmen for ‘We Are Boracay’, ‘Friends of Boracay’ and ‘Rise Up Aklan’ have called “Double Standards”, after 29 of their volunteers were barred from entering Boracay last week, to deliver food parcels.   The food parcels were delivered but the 29 volunteers were barred entry due to security concerns and on advice that members were requiring residents to sign a petition, in exchange for the food parcels.

Inside Boracay: Week 11 – July 10 San Miguel Propose Building a connecting bridge to Boracay

The San Miguel Corporation repeated their offer to build a connecting bridge between Caticlan and Boracay, on July 10.  This is a proposal that they have put forward several times over the last 10 years.  It probably seems like the perfect time to float the idea again, with plans by DENR to house Boracay’s Hospitality Staff on the mainland and not on the island itself. San Miguel claim that they can have the bridge open and running within 2 years. San Miguel’s unit TransAire Development Holdings Corp are behind the expansion of Caticlan Airport, which will shortly become an International Airport.  Read more here

Inside Boracay: Week 11 – July 10 Boracay struggles with flooding

Some may argue that it was the photos of a flooded Boracay last November 2017, which first piqued the interested of the country’s President (ahead of the documentary covering Bulabog Beach) to what was happening (or not happening) on the island.

  • Inside Boracay: Week 11 D'Mall on July 11th. Photo Credit Mylene Poldo Pasia
  • Inside Boracay: Week 11 D'Mall on July 11th. Photo Credit Mylene Poldo Pasia
  • Inside Boracay: Week 11 D'Mall on July 11th. Photo Credit Mylene Poldo Pasia
  • Inside Boracay: Week 11 D'Mall on July 11th. Photo Credit Emily Soria
  • Inside Boracay: Week 11 D'Mall on July 11th. Photo Credit Emily Soria
  • Inside Boracay: Week 11 Rescue of a trike that dropped in to a hole in the road, during the floods of July 11th. Photo Credit Energy Fm 107.7 Kalibo

With a Monsoon hitting the island on the 10th July, the residents braced themselves for bad weather and flooding.   Many predicted that the islands situation would be worsened because of the re-construction on the roads and buildings.  Few were disappointed; if that is the correct word to use, as the rains came down.  One business owner complained, in response to a post on facebook My shop has constant flow of water coming in Cos they cut off the front of the building. No shelter.”  Another commented “All the debris from the demolitions, blocking the last working drains of the island“.

However, another resident statedWe had monsoon rains last night – no amount of drainage would have coped“.

Inside Boracay: Week 11 – July 11  Pinay Boracay receives further invitations from Department of Agriculture

Pinay Boracay has featured regularly in our weekly articles.  The group is a co-operative of local women working together to produce sustainable or ec0-friendly products.   Pinay Boracay received an invitation on July 11, to attend a Product Assessment and Enhancement seminar in Roxas, Capiz.

Pinay Boracay is one of the Enrolled Women Micro-Entrepreneurs, in a Department of Agriculture project; Great Women Project.   They have been invited to attend and bring with them the three latest products for assessment and suggested enhancement by product specialists. Pinay Boracay’s latest products include Sara Sara Coffee, Choco Pinais,and insect repellant ointment/lotion.  Desiree Segovia, one of the co-operatives key leaders stated: “Thank you Lord God for showering us with so much blessings during this closure time. We are humbled”.

On July 12 the group signed a Memorandum for 600,000PHP worth of equipment from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), under the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program Innovation System Support Fund (SETUP ISSF).  The machinery will assist with packaging for the Hibiscus ‘Gwapamela’ products: soap shampoo, tea and candies.

Inside Boracay: Week 11 – July 11 Main Road Widening and Rebuild

  • Inside Boracay: Week 11 Patio Pacific Station 1 Road Widening Program Photo Credit Bong Arban
  • Inside Boracay: Week 11 Station 1 Road Widening Program Photo Credit Bong Arban
  • Inside Boracay: Week 11 Station 1 Road Widening Program Photo Credit Bong Arban
  • Inside Boracay: Week 11 Station 1 Road Widening Program Photo Credit Bong Arban

Inside Boracay: Week 12

Inside Boracay: Week 12 of Closure

  • Senate Hearing
  • Carrying Capacity to be set, by DILG
  • Charges against Malay Aklan Officials over the Environmental Fee
  • Proposal by Councilor Maylynn ‘Nenette’ Aguire-Graf to increase the Environmental Fee to 500PHP pp.
  • ECC’s Revoked and Suspended.

Inside Boracay: Week 12, July 14  DILG announce their plan to limit the number of tourists visiting Boracay & a second wave of investigations in to Boracay Officials

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III announced that the carrying capacity of Boracay will be discussed, at the next Island Taskforce Meeting on the 25th July.

In the same press conference Densing announced that there would be a second wave of charges laid against Malay Aklan Officials.   In this instance the charges relate to discrepancies in the Environmental Fee collected and its expenditure.   For many years travellers, and residents, have complained about why Boracay’s streets and beach are dirty with trash, when they pay an environmental fee to enter Boracay.  The DILG is pressing charges after investigating this and noting discrepancies in arrival figures, against the money accounted for, as well as how it was spent.  As an example: two million tourists were recorded as entering Boracay in 2017.   The Environmental Fee is set at 75PHP per person.  Therefore two million people paying 75php should net P150 million in fees.  The local government declared just P92 million.   In addition, the DILG is concerned that a number of projects funded through the collected fees are not Environmental in nature, which could result in further charges of corruption.

Certainly, many Boracay residents are still asking where our 2nd Beach Cleaning Machine is!  For those who need context, a Board Member of Boracay Foundation Inc requested that Boracay’s share of the Environment Fee collection be released, so the island could initiate their own Environmental Projects, during a BFI meeting.  The meeting took place ahead of what was then a predicted closure of the island.  The Aklan Governor advised that there was no funding left for Boracay, because he had ordered the island TWO beach cleaning machines, which would be delivered to the island in April.   One machine arrived on 29th May but there has been no update about the second machine from Governor Florencio Miraflores.

Inside Boracay: Week 12 – July 14 Town councilor Maylynn Aguirre-Graf proposes Environmental Fee Hike

Town councilor Maylynn Aguirre-Graf, more widely known as Nenette Aguirre-Graf to islanders, put forward a proposal to increase the Environmental Fee from 75PHP to 500PHP.   Councilor Aguirre-Graf proposed, to Malay’s Sangguniang Bayan (SB), the increase be applied ahead of the Island’s re-opening, to ensure more realistic funding towards the preservation and rehabilitation of Boracay.   Sadly, there were a number of Councilors who raised objections to the increase, suggesting that it can not be justified when the island is not fully rehabilitated.   Councilor Aguirre-Graf had put forward this proposal after discussions with island stakeholders and island officials.  The proposal includes the issuance of canvas bags to tourists, which will include a list of ‘do’s and don’ts’ and act as a washable bag that can be used to transport purchases, or to collect trash in; ahead of the full implementation of the ban on plastic bags.

Inside Boracay: Week 12.  Is it fair to say that Pres Duterte’s Closure of Boracay has resulted in an escalation in environmental commitment and actions across the Philippines?

It is heartening to see so many provinces and areas in the Philippines, committing to a ban on Single Use Plastic.  In this week alone there have been numerous reports and media coverage of such bans across the Philippines.

YHH writer Rica Velasco celebrated Makati’s Executive Order No:007 s, prohibiting commercial establishments from distributing plastic spoons, forks knives and straw and the news that, on July 2, Jollibee stopped including plastic utensils in their takeout deliveries.

El Nido Boutique ArtCafe celebrated the return of their Nature Springs Bottled Water refrigerators to source.  The cafe will no longer be issuing bottled water but will instead offer to refill water bottles or provide purified service water.

Senator Risa Hontiveros posted on her facebook page: “My bill on banning single-use plastic straws and stirrers in food service establishments is a small yet meaningful step towards the right direction. We need to start somewhere in limiting our single-use plastic consumption to save our oceans, to save the environment, to save ourselves”.

Cebu City Mayor, Tomas Osmeña, signs a memorandum banning all single use plastics and Styrofoam from all Cebu City hall offices effective from August 1, 2018.  Employees are encouraged to bring their own plates, utensils, glasses, and reusable containers.  In addition, Food vendors are to be banned from using single use plastic food containers, or packaging material for any dine-in or take-out foods.  News update via Cebu City Public Information Office

Save Philippine Seas visited Boracay Island, July 11-12,  for ‘Earthducation’; a conservation education program for students and teachers run in conjunction with Globe.  As stated on their facebook page “At the end of our Earthducation Workshop, we asked the participants to write a letter to Boracay. Here are a few of them (You may or may not need tissue) Read what the locals have to say about the closure, and what their promises are for the paradise they call home” – see in our gallery above.

Campaign/Eco Pages you may wish to follow:

Inside Boracay: Week 12 July 16th Senate Meeting (video

DILG Secretary Densing III advised that there are now 228 Compliant establishments on the island; more than a 100% increase on previous figures given.

One islander and stakeholder, who watched the broadcast of the meeting, commented on her own Facebook “I was hoping that someone would bring up the issue of the discrepancy in the 25+5 Easement Measures, wherein some establishments were granted Building and Business Permits based on the LGU’s measurements (but) were marked as violators, based on the DENR’s measurements after the closure”. 

25+5 Discrepancies between Boracay LGU and DENR
Centralized Compliancy Guidelines

President of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, Jojo Clemente, highlighted the ongoing confusion about the term “compliant”.  He pointed out that hotels and resorts are being deemed “compliant” or “non-compliant” depending on the various government agencies’ conflicting requirements. He recommended issuing centralised Guidelines, as well as having an office or desk where stakeholders can check their status or clarify any concerns.

Sewage Treatment Plants for all White Beach establishments

Stakeholders also need to be advised if having the newly required STP’s (Sewage Treatment Plant) in place are part of Compliancy for opening, or if there will be an implementation period before it is.  Clemente, rightly, pointed out that the expense of installing such Plants after 6 months of no business, and in time for the Island’s re-opening was almost impossible.

What is perturbing is that it now appears that the requirement being suggested, is for establishments to literally have, and operate, their own complete Sewage and Water Treatment facility.  This is different to the usual expectation of private STP use; to treat ‘gray’ water in order to recycle water for watering the grounds, use in showers, flushing toilets thereby reducing the water supply demands on Boracay and the mainland.

If the expectation is that all these establishments are to have their own individual Sewage Treat Plant, to treat their actual sewage and not just recycle ‘grey’ water, where will they be discharging the waste water to?  Such water can’t be reused!

Won’t White Beach be full of the constant smell of sewage as countless hotels individually treat their guests sewage at immediate point of exit?

And it would beg the question ‘why do we need to be a customer of Boracay Island Water’ if establishments are to do it for themselves?

Who will monitor the efficiency of each and every hotel operated STP on the island, ensuring it is compliant?

And do they have the manpower to ensure that all hotel STP’s are checked within the first 60 days of the year, so that establishments can secure all the relevant certificates, Business and Mayor’s permits to be compliant to operate each year?

  • Inside Boracay: Week 12 ECC Supension & STP Updates
  • Inside Boracay: Week 12 ECC Supension & STP Updates
  • Inside Boracay: Week 12 ECC Supension & STP Updates
  • Inside Boracay: Week 12 ECC Supension & STP Updates
DOT Accreditation as part of being Compliant?

It may appear that there is an underlying push to make Department of Tourism (DOT) accreditation compulsory for Boracay establishments, instead of voluntarily, as an added stage in being judged compliant.   A DOT Representative at the Senate Hearing advised that if a property is DOT accredited they are already 100% compliant, as successful applications require all relevant permits from LGU, DENR and DILG to be in place.

ECC’s Suspended and Revoked ahead of reassessments!

There is anger among existing fully compliant stakeholders, and those just waiting on appointments to secure their ECC, Mayor and Business Permit having completed all other stages of the process, with the news that all current ECC’s have been revoked; even those that have already been checked and cleared.

Cimatu stated. We have to suspend all ECCs and there will be reissuance of ECC depende sa kanilang compliance, adding that before owners of establishments are allowed to operate, they will need to secure  a business permit from the local government unit and accreditation from the Department of Tourism (DOT) aside from a newly issued ECC (read more here:   Many are angry, especially those who have already completed the process, that they will be required to go through it all over again, and pay for it all  over again; when they are already holding all relevant certificates and permits.

Boracay’s Island Carrying Capacity

The Senate Hearing heard that  none of the previous figures provided can be considered accurate.  The Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau’s Bighani Manipula said that a study conducted earlier this year showed that Boracay’s average carrying capacity was 11,222. Whilst, Sec. Densing advised that an earlier study gave a carrying capacity of 35,000, with arrivals at 110,000 during Peak Season.

TIEZA, during the Senate Hearing, appeared to deny responsibility for the drainage pipe that was pumping raw sewage in to Bulabog Beach Waters, TV coverage of which caused President Duterte to declare the island a “Cesspool”: “We are not the reason for the closing or opening of Boracay…we have removed all illegal connections to the drainage”

Well just leave this image of a, 2016 letter referring to a 2013 study paid for by BFI (Boracay Foundation Inc) and the incomplete TIEZA project, here:-

Inside Boracay: Week 12 – Boracay Makes Travel & Leisure’s Top 10, despite closure

Despite a complete closure to tourists on 26th April 2018, Boracay still took home 8th place in Travel & Leisure magazine’s 2018 Top 10 Islands in Asia list.  Cebu took 6th place and Palawan dropped from 1st place (held for the last two years) to 5th place.   The results are based on a standardised award system, with points for amenities and facilities for travellers.   It may be unsurprising that Palawan also dropped in the ranks, as both El Nido and Coron are also undergoing resort demolitions due to encroaching on Forest Land or  the Beach Easement.

Inside Boracay: Week 12 – July 18 – Djila’s travels around the island

Inside Boracay: Week 12 A week in photos

  • Inside Boracay: Week 12 Photo Credit Lhen Brutton
  • Inside Boracay: Week 12 Stellar & Jeepney Hostel Bulabog, lost to the new road widening - Photo Credit Lhen Brutton
  • Inside Boracay: Week 12 Bulabog Beach - Photo Credit Lhen Brutton
  • Inside Boracay: Week 12 Bulabog Beach drainage outlet pipe - Photo Credit Lhen Brutton
  • Inside Boracay: Week 12 Bulabog Beach drainage outlet pipe - Photo Credit Lhen Brutton
  • Inside Boracay: Week 12 - White Beach Photo Credit Bong Arban
  • Inside Boracay: Week 12 - White Beach Photo Credit Bong Arban
  • Inside Boracay: Week 12 - Station 2 Main Road Photo Credit Bong Arban
  • Inside Boracay: Week 12 - Station 2 Main Road Photo Credit Bong Arban

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