Inside Boracay: Week 20 – 50 Days Until Re-opening

Boracay Sunsets during closure 2018

Inside Boracay: Week 20

Week 20 of closure and just 50 days until the re-opening of the island on 26th October.  Whilst the island is now on the ‘right side’ of the half-way point many residents are concerned about the progress of work, and whether the island can be opened in any meaningful way

  • Islanders Stunned to discover a SWAT Team is readying for Boracay deployment ahead of re-opening
  • Technical Personnel arrive to assist Akelco with rehabilitation
  • 50 E-Trikes are delivered to Boracay from DOE
  • DOT Declares no Diving when Boracay opens?
  • Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) wrongly quoted by Media, as saying no hotels yet have taken bookings for the re-opening
  • DENR announces Resident Numbers to be reduced on Boracay to allow for more tourists

Inside Boracay: Week 20 – 6th September Islanders Stunned at SWAT Team arrival

Islanders were left stunned, after an article by the Boracay Informer was posted on 6th September.  In it, with accompanying video footage (see below, Further Reading 1), was the news that the 2nd Aklan Provincial Mobile Force was readying a SWAT team to be deployed on Boracay for the Opening. According to Commander P/Supt Ryan Manongdo, the SWAT Team are “Capable in responding in High Risk situations”.

SWAT Team on Boracay Inside Boracay: Week 20
SWAT Team to be deployed ahead of Re-opening: Photo Boracay Informer

Islanders remain unclear what possible High Risk Situations there could be, with many having lived or worked here for decades without such an incident.

One netizen responded “Are they trying to keep the tourists out????

“Is this their way to open Boracay on Oct .. The sewerage, the main road, limiting tourist foreign or local, and now this !!! ..  Eh di … Wow !!”

Inside Boracay: Week 20 – 6th September Electrical Technicians arrive to help

Fifty-Five (55) Technical Personnel, from ten (10) different Electric Companies and Co-operatives, arrived on Boracay on 5th September to begin work on the 6th September.  Six Utility Vehicles and four heavy line trucks were also transported to the island.   Nicknamed Task Force Kapatid, all personnel will assist Akelco, Boracay’s Electric Co-operative, to begin to re-wire the new poles, which were set back from their old positions on the roads.

10 Electric Companies help rehabilitate Boracay
Task Force Kapatid arrive on Boracay – Photo Credit Aklan Electric Co-operative Inc

Islanders have been warned to expect both Scheduled and Unscheduled black-outs from this point forward.

Inside Boracay: Week 20 – 6th September Department of Energy to deliver 50 E-Trikes

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced that up to 1,000 E-Trikes will be provided to Boracay.  50 of these were expected to be delivered in Week 20 (Further Reading 2).

An Executive Order, No. 007-2018 had previously been issued by Malay Aklan Mayor Ciceron Cawaling empowering Malay Transportation Office to enforce a gradual phase out of gasoline-fueled tricycles on the island.  The phase out date was set as January 31st 2018 and then postponed to  the 31st August 2018.  The phase out date has been extended again to just prior to the re-opening of the island.  Certainly the roads are currently not suitable for E-Trikes.

However, Boracay Residents are already aware that E-Trikes can’t always cope with Boracay’s hills. And whilst the DOE E-trikes can accommodate up to eight people, there is no guarantee that this will be adequate for some of Boracay’s locations.  Richard Osmeña, Director of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Region 6, has said that a ‘dry-run’ will take place prior to the opening.  Osmeña added that there is also the plan for E-Jeepneys on the island, which will ply the main road.  More information can be found in our Week 18 Article

Inside Boracay: Week 20 – 7th September Boracay Foundation Inc. Official Statement.

OFFICIAL STATEMENT: On the Ongoing Closure of Boracay from Boracay Foundation Inc:

Inside Boracay: Week 20 – 8th September truck with DSWD Food Packs overturns on unmade road

The unmade, demolished roads, are a daily hazard for the residents of Boracay.   One truck, transporting boxes of DSWD Food Packs for residents of the island, overturned.   The truck was transporting the boxes between Cagban and Manoc Manoc.

DSWD Food Packs Truck heading to Boracay
DSWD Van overturns spilling food packs everywhere. Photo: Christian Vargas

Inside Boracay: Week 20 – 9th September will DOT allow Diving to resume on Boracay?

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, has reportedly stated that Diving would not be permitted off Boracay when the island reopens in October.  This according to ABS CBN news (Further Reading 3) who writes that Puyat reportedly made the comment during the Diving Resort Travel Show, SM Megamall Manila, at the weekend.  ABS CBN advised that Puyat said that further studies would be needed to ‘green light’ any diving activities on Boracay.

However, the Business Mirror did not report this in their article about the Travel Show (Further Reading 4).   The Business Mirror instead reports Puyat as extolling the virtues of Diving in the Philippines:

Our biodiverse waters mean that there is a site for all types of dives, and all types of marine life or species to see and check off your bucket list. We have it all—from the rarest and smallest critters to the largest pelagic fish, colorful reefs and many others. So whether you’re looking for a relaxing fun dive, honing your photography skills, doing technical or cave dives, or training to free dive, we invite you to take on our dives sites to get the best of both, rather, all worlds.

She added that the DOT will “formulate policies to make sure all dive destinations are protected. Our overarching theme is sustainable tourism. And, of course, that goes with all marine resources.

Diving is a key component in the DOT’s National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) for 2016-2022. Last year alone saw half a Billion Pesos in Tourism Receipts earned through diving.   The Philippines is one of the best places to dive in the World, in terms of bio-diversity.

Islanders can only hope that, if ABS-CBN’s claim is true, the DOT Secretary takes the time to meet with members of The Boracay Business Administration of Scuba Shops (BBASS).  This is probably the oldest Dive Association in the Philippines.  And it is full of experienced, skilled and knowledgeable divers, whose priority remains preserving Boracay’s Dive Sites.  You will remember from our Week 2 and Weeks 3 & 4 Articles that the members of the Association continued to volunteer their time for Ocean-bed clean ups and clearing the devastating Crown of Thorns infestation, even after closure.

What we do know is this continued practice of announcing and making statements to the media, before talking to the Stakeholders, who may actually be able to help them understand Boracay, her travellers, travel trends etc.  just continues to further undermine traveller confidence in the island.  Which will make it that much harder for the island to attract the tourists back.

Inside Boracay: Week 20 – 10th September Farewell to Spaghetti Wires?

Whilst it’s simply not feasible to bury the Electricity Cables underground, the Telco’s are taking advantage of the torn up roads to tidy up their wiring and cables.   Working together the Telco’s have been colour coding their cables and laying them ready to be secured underground and out of sight.   See our Gallery below and check out Station 3 with it’s new road mapping, and cleared cabling.

  • Telco’s bury cables out of sight – Photo by Paradise Cable Television Network (PCTV)
  • Telco’s bury cables out of sight – Photo by Paradise Cable Television Network (PCTV)
  • Telco’s bury cables out of sight – Photo by Paradise Cable Television Network (PCTV)

Inside Boracay: Week 20 Boracay Task Force Meeting Release Proposals for Boracay

The Boracay Task Force met at Casa Pilar Beach Resort, to put forward the proposals for the re-opening of Boracay.  Anyone with any concerns or comments about the below proposals should attend Casa Pilar.  Realistically, very little is new and most have always existed but have just not been enforced.

Inside Boracay: Week 20 – 12th September UPDATED: Apology to Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) President

Your Hospitality Hub wishes to apologise to Jose Clemente, TCP President, for repeating incomplete quotes, which had been published by PHILSTAR (Further Reading 5) in an article on 13th September.

Jose Clemente was wrongly quoted by PHILSTAR, and we then repeated those misquotes.   We would like to thank Jose Clemente for contacting us, with such grace and forgiveness, to draw our attention to the matter.  Jose was clear that his comments were in relation to his own Travel Agency, which has taken the decision not to offer Boracay bookings for the time being.  Jose has been, and remains, one of Boracay’s staunchest defenders.

Inside Boracay: Week 20 – 12th September DENR claim that only 180 establishments have been cleared to re-open

Jonas Leones, DENR Under Secretary told the media that only 180, out of a possible 2,300 establishments have met environmental standards.  He was quick to add that these 180 establishments only complied on land and environment requirements and still need to be cleared by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Tourism (DOT).

Senator Villar pointed out that 180 establishments equates to 7.8%, and not the 30% that DENR predicted at the last TaskForce Hearing.  Leones was quick to clarify that DENR is currently validating submissions from 2000 other establishments, and hopes this will be completed in time for the Soft Opening of 15th October (Further Reading No. 6.)

Business owners, however, continue to be frustrated by the Requirements Process and changes:-

Inside Boracay: Week 20 – 12th September Resident Numbers to be reduced on Boracay, to allow for more tourists.

Last week we reported that the carry capacity for the island had been assessed as just under 55,000 people. 19,000 of which can be tourists.

Boracay Carry Capacity – DENR
Boracay Carry Capacity – DENR

Rappler (Further Reading 7.) reported Cimatu as saying there is a need to reduce the numbers of stay-in workers on the island.  “We will slowly find a way to look for a solution to bring them (workers) outside of Boracay to the mainland,” Cimatu said.

Many Islanders are already fully aware that at least one Business has continuously offered to build staff housing on the mainland, close to the airport. The same business has offered to build a bridge as well, to deal with the daily commute issues that this move would bring up.

Cimatu advised that there will be two Piers at Caticlan Port. One will be specifically used by workers and residents.

Inside Boracay: Week 20 A Week in Photos

  • Station 2 Photo by Kelly Pierce
  • D’Mall 12th September; road going down
  • D’Mall
  • D’Mall
  • D’Mall
  • D’Mall
  • Lake Town/D’Mall
  • Lake Town/D’Mall
  • Patio Pacific Photo by Energy FM 107.7 Kalibo
  • Charlie’s Steakhouse – Photo by Energy FM 107.7 Kalibo
  • Lake Town/D’Mall
  • Station 2 Photo by Energy FM 107.7 Kalibo
  • Bulabog Beach by Kelly Pierce
  • White Beach Sunset – Photo Credit Trudy Allen
  • White Beach Sunset – Photo Credit Trudy Allen

Further Reading/Article Sources

  1. SWAT Team Preparing for Boracay re-opening – Boracay Informer
  2. Free e-trikes for Boracay’s displaced tricycle drivers – Panay News
  3. Diving won’t be permitted yet at Boracay, says tourism chief – ABS CBN News
  4. DOT takes steps to boost PHL profile as diving destination – Business Mirror
  5. Tourism Congress of the Philippines: ‘Boracay not yet ready for tourists – PHILSTAR
  6. Only 180 of 2,200 Boracay businesses given green light for reopening – Philippines Lifestyle News
  7. They outnumber tourists! Over 15,000 workers to be booted out of Boracay – Rappler
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