Everything I’d been reading about Boracay was shiny resorts (and gorgeous beaches). Until I came upon Camiña Balay Nga Bato (Stone House), built in 1865, which holds a heritage museum and cafe. The structure is patterned after the bahay kubo, “cube house.” It’s made of strong, natural materials—the roof of bamboo and nipa, the floors of narra and ivory. The foundation is supported by 24 tree trunks.
What’s nipa, you may ask. I did: nipa is a palm tree with creeping roots, characteristic of mangrove swamps in India and the Pacific islands. Narra is a tree of the pea family. But did the ivory come from elephant trunks? Looks like it did. “Ivory has been an important part of the culture and fabric of Filipino society for centuries and continues to be significant today. Ivory carvers still make ecclesiastical (religious) statues (santos). Tusks continue to be smuggled into the country from Africa; dealers and craftsmen in Manila purchase them for USD 446 a kg for an average-sized tusk. … The number of ivory items seen in the retail outlets does not accurately indicate the true size of the ivory industry … Law enforcement of the ivory trade in the Philippines is generally poor. From 2005 to 2009, large consignments of tusks were sent to the Philippines in transit to other countries in Asia.”
There’s a southern countryside area called Ilo Ilo with the more historical buildings of the island.
Iloilo is a province located in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. (Western Visayas is where our Airbnb will be for the first few days! I hope we’ll venture to some of these sites.) This region “occupies a major southeast portion of the Visayan island of Panay.” This is all part of Boracay. I’m not sure how. If Boracay is many islands. I can’t tell from maps.
Iloilo is renowned for its rich history and culture, including numerous well preserved Spanish-era buildings.
Ancient Indonesians, Malaysians, Vietnamese, Indian, Arab, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese merchants were already trading with the Ilonggos before the arrival of the Mexicans, Spaniards and other Europeans. I don’t know if any of their heritage shows in the architecture remaining.
There are also mountains in this province! Mount Baloy is the highest, with an elevation of 6,424 feet above sea level! And there are extensive mangrove wetlands along the coasts and rivers.
How about that! We’ll soon find out what I’ll get to see.