Inside Boracay: Week 3 & 4 After Closure
25 more weeks to go before re-opening and inland work is really progressing.
Journey’s along the main road, to buy groceries, or to support the businesses that are trying to stay open, are a mixed emotions affair. On the one hand it is sometimes difficult to navigate where exactly you are, because so much has been demolished. 234 Structures have so far been demolished or set-back. On the other hand, we are starting to see what Boracay could become once the set-back and road widening has completed.
Inside Boracay: Week 3 – May 11 Main Road Set-back
Local Residents Nica May & Bong Arbon captured the work going on at Station 3, on the main road, Cagban, D’Mall and Station 1. In Station 3, all of the shops have now set back, demolishing part of the frontage and in some cases losing half their retail space, to allow for the road widening.
Workmen are currently focusing on laying the new sewage pipes, with greater carrying capacity, in Station 3, which will eventually connect all the way along the main road, to service the island.
There is a LOT of dust!
Inside Boracay: Week 3 – May 11 Hold Mother’s Day Event for Boracay’s Ati mums
Inside Boracay: Week 3 May 11 – Movenpick, one of Boracay’s newest Resorts, organised a special day for the Ati Komunidad, ahead of Mother’s Day. The day at the resort and Punta Bunga Beach was to celebrate the kindness, inspiration and strength of Boracay mothers. The short video (below) of the day fully captures the joy and appreciation of the recipients
Inside Boracay: Week 3 – May 11 Creation of an Interagency TaskForce
Inside Boracay: Weeks 3 May 11 – today an Interagency TaskForce was created on the order of Philippine President, Rodrigo R. Duterte. The aim of the Taskforce is to review and consolidate existing Master Plans. The Taskforce will also formulate an Action Plan to reverse the degradation of the island.
DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu is to be the Chairman, with Secretaries from Interior and Tourism Departments serving as Vice Chairs. The Taskforce will oversee the implementation of the Plans and ensure that departments, and businesses, are following and working to existing policies and laws.
It was also announced on 11 May that Boracay is being considered as a Water Quality Management Area (WQMA), which will enable greater control and prevention of water pollution. This Inter-Agency body will be made up of representatives from the Government, Private Sector, and NGO’s (Non-Government Organizations) with the aim of further protecting the island’s water quality.
Inside Boracay: Week 3 – May 12 GPR used to identify illegal waste pipes on White Beach
The Mines and GeoScience’s Bureau have been using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) along White Beach beachpath, and on the beach itself to identify any water carrying pipes which may be present. Once this has been mapped they will then investigate any pipe findings. The equipment is highly sensitive and, as fascinating as it is to watch, the team and Police request that people don’t come too close for photo opportunities (See our Week 4 Report below, which will highlight the number of pipes already detected).
This video from Nestor Burgos Jnr, of the Philippine Daily Inquirer shows the team in action
Inside Boracay: Week 3 – 12-14 May Wetland 6 cleared of structures
Structures & homes were demolished in Wetland area 6, located in Manoc Manoc. The majority were Boarding Houses, made with light plywood and had already been vacated by boarders. News reports state that the previous boarders were island workers, who have since returned to their homes or provinces.
CENR (City Environment & Natural Resources Office) have been clear that only islanders will be relocated to a new, as yet, undetermined, location; ‘transient’ workers will need to find themselves somewhere else to live. ABS CBN News Link
For years the idea of staff being located on the mainland has been suggested, to free up space and remove poorly constructed Boarding Houses. Whilst, in terms of fire safety, this is a good idea, it will create the next problem to be solved; getting the staff on to the island without causing further congestion at Caticlan Jetty Port.
Inside Boracay: Week 3 – May 12 Boracay’s Saturday Community Market is resurrected
Nina Bustamante, and Dos Mestizos, resurrected last years, much loved, Saturday Community Market. The Saturday Community Market has served as a community meeting point offering a range of stalls selling baked goods, naturally made products and clothes.
This Market allows islanders to sell items and earn some income, whilst the island is closed. Local businesses have been able to sell off stock or make fresh items, reminding islanders that they’re still open. It also allows them to continue to employ their staff. The Saturday Community Market compliments the Dos Mestizos Food Market, which runs throughout the week, with low cost, tasty Filipino food and snacks.
Inside Boracay: Week 3 – May 14 LGU cuts funds to Boracay Fire & Ambulance Rescue
Today we learned that financial assistance from the LGU, towards the operations of the Boracay Fire Rescue and Ambulance Volunteers (BFRAV), would stop on 16 May 2018. Leaving just two days for the group to try to find alternative sources of funding.
At a time when the island is basically being deconstructed on a massive scale, with skilled work being undertaken by local residents and migrant construction workers, with electrical poles being moved for road widening etc it really is vital that this island has an effective group, working together to rescue and provide vital first response/aid at the scene, and transport on to fully equipped hospitals on the mainland.
Further information available via Philstar News
(May 23 – It is alleged that a patient accompanied by the BFRAV, experiencing seizures, was refused access to a Sea Ambulance at Cagban Port, to transport them across to the mainland. Valuable time was lost securing a banca to get the patient across the water to the mainland and specialist care).
If anyone is in a position to provide financial assistance please do message YHH and we will put you in touch with the relevant officers.
Inside Boracay: Week 3 – 15 May Election Day
Election Day passed without incident on Boracay. Voting numbers were down on previous years. This was put down to many locals living, and working, away from the island to secure an income to support their families during closure. Congratulations to those who were elected.
Inside Boracay: Week 3- May 15-16 Mushroom Production Course
The Department Of Science & Technology (DOST) Region 6, in conjunction with Philippine – Chamber of Commerce Boracay and Panay Boracay, ran a two day course about Mushroom Production, at Tindahan Boracay. Mushroom cultivation is a burgeoning commercial prospect in the Philippines, and more and more people are being taught how to grow mushrooms. Not only can mushrooms be sold at market for a good profit, but they are a good source of protein and a great addition to recipes.
Hmmm So this journal writer is struggling at the end of week 3 of closure.
My task is to write about all of the amazing work and progress that is going on with the rehabilitation, and within the Boracay Community. Partly to soften the negativity that World-wide travellers may now have about an island voted (several times) World Number 1 Island/Beach. With the hope that guests will return to the island immediately after re-opening. But it is hard to do this, in light of recent developments in Yapak; one of the remaining chunks of virgin forest land on the island.
This community has been labelled “Greedy Businessman” in some Mainstream Media publications, and sometimes solely blamed for the state of Boracay, leading to its Closure. Yet when this community tries to get attention on potential violations, we get shut down with comments about how we should “post responsibly” and not share “Fake News”.
The alert raised, regarding forest and mountain destruction, is not the first time Islanders have tried to protect Boracay’s environment. But it is a good example of how difficult the community finds it to have concerns dismissed, and destruction allowed to continue, or not caught until it is too late. The video WAS made on the 11th May 2018; it was not filmed in 2017, or months before the closure. In addition, other residents local to the area have gone on record, commenting on the level of work and machinery coming and going at the site, even since the Closure of the island.
It is this kind of development that has worried islanders for years. It appears that Permits are granted with little thought to the impact on the island, whether in terms of carrying capacity or environmentally, and it leaves me wondering if anything will change here. We can only hope that the issues of carrying capacity, and issuing Building Permits, will result in more rigorous plans now.
Inside Boracay: Week 4 & 24 Weeks to go!
So much is taking place that it’s been hard to release the articles within days of the end of the week. Information and photos are gathered, agreements sought for use of photos, and frankly there’s been quite a lot of May Birthday celebrants, focus groups, training sessions and general gatherings! With fewer shops open, residents and locals are getting creative with their gifts to friends, and an Island of Bakers and ‘crafties’ is being discovered.
That Boracay Community Spirit Raises it’s head again: Light-hearted comments aside about discovering the baking skills of friends. Groceries are becoming an issue … not so much Rice though; there always seems to be rice!
Some Businesses continue to get in fresh food items, such as fruit and vegetables, but it’s the emergence of help from “Mainlander’s”, who are contacting friends or relatives on Boracay with offers of eggs, fresh meat, salad etc. This information is shared among the islanders, who then make a group order and send one person to collect the order, either from Caticlan or Boracay Port.
The reality is that we have been spoilt for options on Boracay for more than 10 years, because of the main businesses to be found here. With most of these currently closed, supplies are drying up, or are just not coming on to the island. Add in the road widening and sewage pipe work going on, along the main road, and all the walking we’re having to do to get anywhere, we’re all going to be thinner, fitter versions of ourselves come re-opening.
Inside Boracay: Week 4 – May 17 DOST meets with Boracay Businesses
DOST Regional Director, Engr Rowen R Gelonga CESO III met with Boracay Businesses, at Real Coffee & Tea, to talk about the technical and consultancy services offered by the Department, as well as possible training partnerships available.
Inside Boracay: Week 4 – May 17 Civic Action Activity
Coastal Clean-up on Bulabog Beach took place, organised by The Metro Boracay Police Task Force (MBPTF). The Clean-up was led by PC SUPT Cezar Hawthorne R Binag, Regional Director; PSSUPT Jesus Cambay Jr and Deputy Regional Director for Operation/MBPTF STG Commander.
The Clean-up was joined by the PNP-Maritime Group, Philippine Coast Guard/Auxiliary (PCG), Philippine Army (PA), Philippine Marines/Navy/Reservist, Presidents of Brgy. Balabag, Kabalikat Civicom, Phil. Coast Guard/Auxiliary, Philippine Navy/Reservist and Volunteers/Force Multipliers- Malay Auxiliary Police (MAP), Kabalikat-Civicom, Kabayan Action Group, PARDSS Foundation International Inc.-Public Assistance for Rescue, Disaster and Support Services, Boracay Community under the Cash for Work Program of DOLE (Bolabog and Lugutan Area) and PCTV-Boracay.
Inside Boracay: Week 4 – May 17 DOLE Release information on BEEP AMP program
17th May – The Department Of Labor and Employment (DOLE) released information about the Boracay Emergency Employment Program (BEEP), a safety net program to provide assistance and intervention to affected Boracay workers. This program will offer:-
- Financial Assistance
- Employment Facilitation, and
Eligible applicants are:-
- Workers employed in Boracay, and Malay Aklan, by an employer
- Workers whose employment has been interrupted, or who do not receive a regular wage due to temporary suspension, or permanent cessation, of operations due to employers business closure
- Workers whose employment is interrupted during the period of closure
DOLE continues to employ displaced workers as beach cleaners, and in the Work for Fund program, which is a monthly rolling program. Although residents are only allowed to work for one month each time, so others also have the chance to earn a replacement wage for one month. The Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) has provided transportation assistance to displaced workers returning home to their provinces
Inside Boracay: Week 4 – May 17 LTO Cracks down
The Land Transportation Office (LTO) were out in full force, checking registration documents, appropriate Head and Foot wear of everyone in charge of a motorcycle or tricycle. Stiff Penalties were issued to people breaching the rules laid down. Posters had been circulated in Week 3, via Social Media, listing the requirements and penalties which would be applied.
How is the island faring 10 Weeks on from Weeks 3 & 4 : Check out our Inside Boracay Week 13 & 14
Inside Boracay: Week 4 – May 18 Boracay InterAgency Taskforce claims only 25 resorts are fully compliant
It is announced in MSM (MainStream Media) that the Inter-Agency Taskforce has stated that, out of 1,080 Boracay Establishments only 25 are fully compliant. 427 establishments were operating with no Business Permits, 207 do not have their Environmental Compliance Certificate, 427 do not have a fire safety certificates and 112 had no Sewerage Treatment Plants. However, talking to some of the Business Owners about this, they drew our attention to the following:-
- 427 establishments were operating with no Business Permits
- 427 do not have a Fire Safety Certificate
“One, Business Permit Issuance have been ‘on-hold’ since prior to the Closure and Two; you can’t get a Business Permit without your Fire Safety Certificate. We’ve been chasing them for an appointment for 4 months now. Our Papers for our Business Permit are ready, except for the Fire Safety Certificate, and have been since December 2017” One Business Owner commented
Another Business Owner stated:
“I really don’t know why they just don’t stagger the whole administrative process over the year; it make sense. Process papers, and release permits to businesses, beginning with A and B in January, C and D in February, etc? Throw in the staff Health Card, which must also be processed at the start of the year, it’s no wonder there is a backlog, resulting in Businesses Operating without all the papers in place for several months. What do we do? Close our hotel and refund guests because they’re behind with the paperwork!”.
Of the list of non-compliance, however, people’s biggest concern and anger is for those Businesses with:-
- no building permits (199), or
- who failed to comply with PagIBIG, Social Security System and PhilHealth requirements (412)
Inside Boracay: Week 4 – May 19 Underwater Clean-up
Boracay Business Administration of Scuba Shops (BBASS) and Boracay Foundation Incorporated (BFI) conducted an Underwater Clean-up, and also checked on the progress of the Artificial Reef Domes. The Artificial Reef Domes is a project of the BFI, under its Boracay Beach Management Program/Coastal Resource Management.
The Island Divers were led by BBASS President “Mike Diver”. Personnel from Aklan’s 1st Provincial Mobile Force were led by SP04 Venjie Repedro, and members of Boracay Foundation Incorporated, included Pia Miraflores, BFI Executive Director; Adel Lumagod, Marine Biologist from Boracay Island Water Company and Haron Deo, Marine Biologist from LGU-Malay. Personnel from the Philippine Coast Guard-Caticlan also took part.
A good number of sacks of solid waste materials/debris were collected but it remains incredibly disappointing, to Islanders, that the largest hauls of trash can be found around the mooring posts. There needs to be an education or awareness program undertaken with Boat Owners and their crew about bringing their beer bottles, paint and oil cans, and used brushes to the shore to dispose of them correctly.
Inside Boracay: Week 4 – May 19 – White Beach Drainage Pipe to be replaced
After his visit on 18th May, Secretary Cimatu announced that the Government Drainage Pipe that runs under White Beach, needs to be replaced. This was unexpected and will add to the work that needs to be done, to rehabilitate the island, before re-opening.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau used its Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), in Week 3, to locate 33 pipelines tapping in to the Drainage Pipe. 3 of which have already been dug up and have tested positive for Waste Water discharge. The offending pipes will be tracked back to source and the illegal tappers fined and dealt with.
Plans are to now put the drainage pipe 50+ meters back from the tide level. It is very sad as it will now mean significant upheaval to our beautiful White Beach. But ultimately it is a decision that will protect White Beach. A decision we doubt that the Secretary has taken lightly, and one that will ensure that White Beach is preserved for generations to come.
Inside Boracay: Week 4 – May 19 Work on Road 1a Bulabog
Half the new road leading to Bulabog and Mt Luho has been laid in the last few days. Further demolishing has been done on properties to widen what was a single lane road before the closure. Work is progressing on the new Bulabog Drainage Pipe and it looks like they will start to lay the pipe, out to sea, within the week.
Inside Boracay: Week 4 – May 21-23 Islanders horrified at Palms being cut down by DWPH
Islanders were distraught at the ongoing cutting down of mature Coconut Palms along Bulabog Beach, which is being prepped for a new road, under DENR.
With proper planning in place, equipment could have been brought in to remove these Palms, by their roots, so they could have been replanted along White Beach. It could even have been undertaken manually, with so many locals willing to work for cash or rice. The Palms are vital to our coastlines, forming a natural prevention against sand erosion. There are numerous vidoes on Social Media showing these Palms being cut down and destroyed over the last few days. This is unbelievably disappointing and heartbreaking!
To cheer myself up………
Inside Boracay: Finishing off Week 4 with More of that Community Spirit
Bulabog residents have joined the Street Market trend with 4 days of Sesame Street. An open event allowing locals and residences to sell clothing, books, kitchen equipment and delicious home cooked dishes, such as Pebbles highly sought after Key Lime Pie (which I only managed to scavenge a fork-full of, from the person who claimed the last slice).