Cover Photo: DOT Boracay Field Office
Inside Boracay: Week 25 It was to be expected that this ‘closure’ week, with the Opening Day of the Dry Run on the 15th October, was going to be an incredibly busy one.
Even so, it surpassed Inside Boracay’s expectations and even saw a kiteboarder from Boracay secure the Philippines first ever Olympic Silver Medal!
- 8 Boracay Landholdings signed over for land reform
- DOLE closes BEEP AMP
- New Boat Fees Announced
- DOT Sec Announces more hotels to be added to Opening List
- Dry Run Opening Day coincides with Aklan Day
- New Transport Options Arrive
- Boracay Kiteboarder gives the Philippines its first Olympic Silver in Sailing
Inside Boracay: Week 25 – 8 Boracay Landholdings have been signed over for Land Reform
Eight landholdings situated in Manoc Manoc, and with a total land area of 7.9640 hectares, have been ‘turned over’ by DENR to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
“With the technical documents turned over to us, we have now the jurisdiction to conduct survey, approval of the survey returns by the DENR as well and disposition of the lots covered by the eight lots therein,” DAR Assistant Regional Director for Operations Gideon Umadhay said.
The land is located in Barangay Manoc-Manoc and identified as Agricultural Land. The beneficiaries will be Ati Farmers who have registered interest in farming land turned over for Land Reform, under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.
The DAR will now conduct a perimeter and subdivision survey and then dispose of the Lots. Once the DAR secures a Collective Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA), they plan to issue a Land Title. They expect to do this within December 2018. The next stage, for those farmers who want individual parcels of land, will be to assist them to secure individual Land Titles. Under the land reform program, each beneficiary is entitled to not less than 1,000 square meters.
The landholdings were identified by DENR Western Visayas Regional Office, DAR and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) as suitable for agriculture and without commercial establishment claimants, as far as they’re aware. However, it is possible that there may be existing ‘owners’ of the land, which DAR will need to address [1.]
Currently, there appear to be no public plans or maps of the identified for potential existing owners to view. Neither if it is clear if there is a timeframe in which they have the right to mount a challenge. DAR’s Umadhay advised that there will be more areas announced, as Boracay is declared a “total area for land reform”.
“But definitely we must take into consideration that there are actual occupants and improvement made on the lot which will be subjected to the second phase,” he said [2.]
Inside Boracay: Week 25 – Update to DOLE’s BEEP Program
The Department of Labor and Employment announced that the Boracay Emergency Employment Program (BEEP – AMP: Adjustment Measures Program) will now cease to process applications for any new workers, whose names are not in the database of profiled, affected formal sector workers. The letter from DOLE advises that the fund was already oversubscribed, and only the profiled and verified workers in the Database will be prioritised.
Inside Boracay: Week 25 – 11th October 82 Hotels verified to open
The latest update from the Boracay Taskforce is that 82 hotels or resorts, with approximately 2,284 rooms have now been clearance to operate by DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources). In addition, 25 bars and restaurants, as well as 52 shops, spas and diving centers have also completed the verification process.
As yet there has been no official release from either DENR or DOT regarding the cleared hotels and travelers continue to seek guidance regarding their bookings.
Inside Boracay: Week 25 – October 12th Municipality of Malay revokes the Business Permit of Boracay Island Water Company
Islanders were shocked to see a copy of an Revocation Order of BIWC’s Mayor and Business Permit. Boracay Island Water Company are heavily involved in the rehabilitation process of the island, and are not set to complete their Sewage Pipe program until 2019.
Islanders express concern about what this will do to the rehabilitation timescale. Hotels, whether cleared for opening or awaiting verification of Compliance, and who hold contracts with BIWC are concerned about the impact that this will have on their ability or authority to open
The Permits have been revoked due to the failure of BIWC to secure an Environmental Sanitation Clearance
Inside Boracay: Week 25 – 12th October New Boat Fees Announced.
New rates for Boat Fees has been announced with affect from 12th October
Oyster Ferry will cost p40 for locals and P75 for Tourists. The Pumpboats will cost P25 to Cagban (Locals and Residents) and P50 for Stations 1, 2 and 3 (Tourists)
Environmental Fee will be P75, whilst Terminal Fee will cost P200 for a roundtrip
Inside Boracay: Week 25 – 12th October Dry Run of Beachfront ‘Stations’ as Entry and Exit Points
Operations saw people arriving on Boracay at a pontoon at Station 3. This was undertaken as a Dry Run, for the Soft Opening on the 15th.
Sadly, it resulted in traffic jams on the beach path, as trikes, bikes and vans waited to take those who arrived, on to their destination. We’re at a complete loss as to why, after 6 months of closure to clean up Boracay and its beaches, a decision has been made to overturn the Ordinance of no vehicles on the beach path.
Islanders, and visitors alike, are now subjected to traffic jams, fumes, oil leaks and who knows what substances and pollutants being tracked in to the sand by the tyres of these vehicles.
At a time when hundreds of islanders remain without income or work. This could be another route for temporary employment for people, who wish to act as Porters to help arriving guests, with their luggage, get to their hotel. Or to a point on a road where they can take a vehicle.
Inside Boracay: Week 25 – 13th October DOT warns non-compliant hotels off taking bookings
The Department of Tourism released a statement that any hotels, which are not yet compliant with the DILG and DENR, or are compliant with these departments but are not yet accredited by the DOT, should cease offering room bookings:-
“All Boracay Island accommodation establishments that are not compliant with DILG and DENR requirements and are not yet accredited with the Department of Tourism (DOT) are hereby strongly advised to cease and desist from making room bookings or sale for occupancy starting Oct. 26, 2018 onward until such time that all requirements for opening their establishments are in order and complete”.
Hotels were advised to put a hold on all their online promotions until they have been verified, to ensure tourists don’t arrive at Caticlan without a hotel room to stay in.
Some hotels have expressed frustration, stating that they have been cleared as compliant, and accredited by the DOT but have not appeared on the latest list. See below: DOT Sec Announces more hotels to be added to Opening List
Inside Boracay: Week 25 – October 13th Suspension of Watersports
DENR Secretary, Roy Cimatu advised that Water Sports activities will resume, in Boracay, by the first week of December. He added that non-motorized water sports such as kayak and paddle boarding will resume from the 26th October.
Prior to this all water activities, including diving and Paraws were suspended. Approved motorized watersports are set to be located a minimum of 400 meters from the shoreline.
The issue of Paraws remains. It is believed that a number of hotels have suggested to the Boracay Island Inter-Agency Taskforce that Paraws should be banned as tourists have allegedly complained that the boats block their view of the sunset. Paraws are non-motorized and are only found in the Visaya area of the Philippines. They sail on wind and, occasionally, paddle power. Indeed, images of Paraws have been used in marketing Boracay locally and by the Department of Tourism. Paraws are synonymous with Boracay.
MASBOI (Paraw Association) Chairman, Mike Sinel advised that they would be holding a meeting with the Boracay Interagency Taskforce and DENR to discuss the matter. There are 649 members of MASBOI and 160 Paraws. Sinel advised that they are ready to co-operate in discussing proposals that will allow Paraws back on Boracay’s waters. MASBOI will also write to the LGU
Whilst one argument put forward is that everyone on Boracay should adjust, including Paraw owners, and the island should not only think of business and making money. A counter argument may also be that Boracay should not always pander to tourists; White Beach is 3+km’s long and tourists can always walk and find a stretch of beach where Paraws aren’t waiting for customers, to view the sunset.
Inside Boracay: Week 25 – Oct 14th An Olympic Silver Medal for Boracay’s Christian Tio.
Philippines first ever Olympic Silver Medal for sailing was won by Christian Tio, from Boracay. Christian learned to Kitesurf on Bulabog Beach; the center of the ‘Cesspool’ comment. Christian began the final day of the Men’s Kiteboarding – IKA Twin Tip event in fourth place and finished in second place bagging the Philippines first Olympic Silver medal in Sailing.
Inside Boracay: Week 25 – 15th October Dry Run Opening Day
Environment Secretary, Roy Cimatu annouced, on the 12th October, that a small ceremony would be held on the first day of the ‘Dry Run’. Key Officials and the Mayor’s from each of Aklan’s towns had been invited to attend the opening.
Cimatu advised that up to 21 hotels will be operating during the Dry Run period, in order for the water and sewage treatment capabilities to be tested, ahead of the Phase 1 Opening on 26th October. Local tourists will only be allowed to enter the island, if they can evidence a confirmed booking with one of the 21 compliant hotels. The same will apply to all tourists entering after 26th October.
The Boracay Informer [3.] reports that the Boracay Island Interagency Task Force for Rehabilitation will be determining how many rooms and the maximum number of occupants, compliant hotels will be able to have staying from the 26th October. The report also stated that all compliant hotels will be required to report their daily capacity, for monitoring purposes.
Dry Run, Opening Ceremony and Aklan Day: A number of ceremonies were held throughout today to celebrate Aklan Day and the opening of Boracay to Aklanon visitors. The ceremonies included ribbon cutting and speeches. Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu described the island as “a sight to behold,” and added “We now declare that Boracay is no longer a cesspool [4.].”
Unfortunately, Opening Day was overshadowed by a viral facebook post about litter left on the beach after the Opening Speeches. The post originated in a Closed Forum on Facebook, from which a screenshot was taken and shared publicly by one or two members of the Forum who were also angered by the litter that had been dropped. The CNN Reporter, Cherie Mercado whilst posting on her own Facebook wall rather than an official CNN platform, did not bother to source the post, or contact the original owner before sharing it. The Post became viral, with varied responses and accusations from people across the Philippines.
The posts source told us “the post was shared in a closed online community group, in anger that such carelessness was shown on the first day of opening. After 6 months of closure, it’s heart-breaking to see such carelessness. It wasn’t a political post, the photos were not staged and they were individual items of trash. All of which I personally took off the beach and gave to staff at Bombom Bar and Red Coconut Beach Hotel. Who disposed of them properly.
Whilst I did not personally share the photos publicly, I can only apologise to my fellow islanders for being the root cause of the furor that followed. It was heartening to read that a spokesperson at DENR had acknowledged that there was litter on the day and that the Taskforce will be looking at how this can be addressed with on the spot fines and even the possibility of a Citizens Arrests”.
Cebu Pacific has donated sets of bins for Boracay, which will assist people to segregate their litter and dispose of it correctly.
Inside Boracay: Week 25 – 15th October New Transport Options Arrive
Despite previously reporting that Grab was being considered for upgraded transport options, it was still a surprise for Islanders when the 4 brand-new buses arrived.
The Grab buses will service the main roads of Boracay, with designated Drop-off and Pick-up zones. Or Bus Stops as the U.K. calls them. Grab will be offering an ‘Unli-Ride’ scheme; P300 per person, with unlimited rides good for three days. Children below the age of 12 years old, Senior Citizens and people with disabilities can travel for free.
The rides will be free from October 26 until the end of 2018, after which the pre-paid card or wristband will be introduced.
Whilst it is not clear if the Grab Buses are ‘green’ vehicles, Department of Transportation Secretary, Arthur Tugade, said they are compliant with the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program. They are equipped with Wi-Fi, GPS and CCTV.
Southwest Travel and Tours also launched their new fleet of solar-powered transport buses and E-jeeps ahead of the ‘Dry Run’. The buses and jeeps will be used to transport tourists who have booked and paid for port to hotel transfers. The vehicles are free from exhaust emissions, use solar renewable energy to recharge and are quieter too.
Inside Boracay: Week 25 – 16th October DOT Secretary Announces more hotels to be added to Opening List
Department of Tourism Secretary, Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, announced that more hotels would be added to the Official Opening List.
“We are hoping that by Friday (19th), we will be able to add more establishments because a lot of tourists already want to come to Boracay. I think we will be able to manage the bulk of tourists,” said Puyat [5.].
This is welcome news to many hotels who have received their Compliance Certificate from DENR, as well as their Accreditation Certificate from the DOT. Some had received these before the updated list of hotels, was released at the weekend, and were surprised to not be included. You can see the official list here, as well as those hotels currently waiting for their Compliance Certificates.
Three hotels which featured on the first DOT list of 25 verified hotels, do not currently feature on the latest list. An insider from one of those hotels advised that they are experiencing delays with the construction of their STP. They were one of the first to sign up to a contract, with one of the islands water companies, for an STP.
Inside Boracay: Week 25 – October 17th Boracay’s largest hotel chain accused of faking compliance clearance.
Over the last three weeks various spokespeople for DILG and DENR have alluded to a ‘Chain of Beachfront Hotels’ on Boracay. Stating that this local hotel chain had not yet submitted their papers for verification but were gearing up to open, the various spokespeople warned them to follow due process.
Rappler [6.] released an article naming this chain as the Henann Group of Resorts, and further adding that the Hotel Chain had been accused of faking an Environmental Compliance Certificate. The ECC is the last part of the verification process before a hotel can apply for DOT Accreditation, and then open.
Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, advised that the alleged fake ECC was dated as 8th October, and added that the chain would face appropriate charges, should the certificate and accompanying documents been identified as counterfeit.
Henann denied the allegation to the paper:
“We deny the accusations issued against us. Falsification of documents is an abominable crime that goes against everything that we believe in. Keen as we may be to clear our name, we refuse to feed the media spectacle created by people seeking to harm our brand.” Isabel Garcia-Lee, Henann assistant vice president for sales in Boracay.
Inside Boracay: Week 25 – October 17th Ati Urban Garden Development takes shape.
Anyone taking the ‘Back Road’ of Boracay, can’t fail to have seen a new development gathering pace. Not another Resort but an Urban Garden. Located opposite Galaxy Night Club and close to the Ati Village, this “Farmer Field School” is slowly taking shape.
The Department of Agriculture, Regional Field Office VI has provided grants and training for this project, which will be run by Boracay’s Ati Tribe. There are already a lot of beds and structures in place, along with many healthy plants being grown.
Inside Boracay: Week 25 – October 17th Cebu Pacific will resume their flights to Boracay
Cebu Pacific announce that they will start offering flights in to Caticlan from 26th October. However, they have confirmed that they will be offering fewer flights due to the strict Carry Capacity imposed on Boracay. Prior to the closure Cebu Pacific offered 8 flights a day in to Caticlan.
Cebu Pacific and PAL cut their flights entirely, shortly in to the Islands Closure Period, leaving only Air Asia to serve Islanders and Aklan residents. The skies have certainly been a lot quieter.
PAL will also reinstate their Manila to Caticlan, Cebu to Caticlan and Cebu to Kalibo routes.
Kalibo Airport sees the return of International Flights from October 26 too. Pan Pacific will resume 4 flights a day to/from Incheon in South Korea. There will also be one direct flight from Busan. Jin Air will also resume their Incheon-Kalibo flight. Juneyao Airlines will offer a flight direct from Shanghai Pudong, but only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Whilst its subsidiary flight company, The 9 Air will offer 3 flights a week from Chengdu, Shouguang and Canton.
Air Asia Zest will reinstate their Manila-Kalibo flights, five times a day. As well as its 3-daily flights from Incheon, a daily flight to Shanghai and its flights to Busan, on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sundays.
Cebu Pacific will resume their daily flights to Cebu, Manila, Taipei, Taiwan and Incheon. As well as its less frequent flights to Shanghai, Peking and Guangdong.
All Boracay bound guests must ensure they have with them a printed Hotel Voucher, confirming their booking at a DOT Accredited Hotel. Their Booking Voucher will be verified at either Caticlan or Kalibo Airport, depending on where they land, or at the Jetty Port if they arrive by RORO or land.
Hotel Welcome Lounges will not be operating for now. However, hotels which offer a Concierge Service are allowed to deploy staff to meet their guests at the Jetty Port, providing the staff have the relevant Special Permits from the Jetty Port Authority.
Inside Boracay: Week 25 – A Week in Photos
- Ati Farmers to Get Boracay Property – The Daily Tribune
- DENR turns over records of 8 Boracay landholdings for land reform – PTV News
- What to expect during first day of Boracay reopening dry run – Boracay Informer
- ‘Cesspool no more’: Boracay opening dry run starts – ABS-CBN News
- BORACAY REHAB | DOT chief tells tourists: ‘Kaka-dry run lang, nagtapon na kayo’ – News5
- DENR says Boracay Henann resorts ‘faked’ compliance certificates – Rappler