In a week and a half, I fly to the Philippines for the first time, for my son’s wedding. I once edited a woman’s memoir on growing up in the Philippines and have wanted to see it, though I’ve also read a great deal about its troubled history of colonization.
I’ll fly into Manila and go straight to the island of Boracay, where I’ll stay in a rented villa, then resorts. If I were to design a trip to experience the place, I’d try to go to old sacred sites, with ancient statues and the like, but when I mention this, those native to the islands warn against it. Are there bandits? Rebels? Usually there’s a reason for that. Like corruption.
After my trip, I’ll hopefully have some culturally rich stories to tell.
I searched for histories of the island to share here and found a simple and consistent story. When the Spanish arrived in the Philippines in 1521, Boracay was inhabited by about 100 people of the Ati tribe who farmed rice, fished, and raised goats.. The place stayed relatively undiscovered by the world and tourism until some films in the 70s drew attention to the island’s beauty.
It’s a bit chilling, reading how development is explained on one site. “As arrivals increased steadily, it became necessary to control where people came and went through, as ferries dropping off guests just about anywhere was becoming an accident waiting to happen.” Accident waiting to happen? That’s … wow. Could you be more specific? “To remedy that, three boat stations were set up along the four-kilometer stretch of White Beach in 1988. They became the designated drop-off and pick-up points for guests coming and going.”
Apparently I’ll be brought from the airport by speedboat.
“Seeing things could get messy without a master plan, a US-based consultant was hired to put together a long-term plan for the island’s future,” Yikes! “In 1991, however, authority was handed over to the local government who seemingly misplaced the plan, or chose to ignore it, and an opportunistic free market took over.” This characterization of local control is typical, and belittling. Anyway, to wind this up, sewage became an issue with the influx of tourism. A new treatment system was put in – no doubt contracted through circling sharks. “Later in the 1990s, a number of international hotel chains came to the island, with Shangri-La resort & spa being the very first.” Guess where the wedding is!
To be continued … in June.