The island paradise thrives again

In Caticlan Airport in the Municipality of Malay, travelers heading to Boracay are greeted by several waiting personnel, porters, and barkers, all set and ready to whisk off guests to the island paradise.

The islanders are very much organized and helpful at the welcome ports, amid the excitement and chaos brought by the influx of arriving passengers.

I consider this a sign that Boracay is thriving again amid the impact its people experienced, mostly because of the 2019 rehabilitation by the Department of Energy and Natural Resources (DENR) and the COVID-19 pandemic that practically wiped out all their business hopes in 2020.

It has been a good move by the government to regulate certain provisions of the National Building Code, namely, easement of vertical structures from the beaches and from the roads, sanitary and waste disposal systems, the energy and environmental concerns of the island, and even the beautification of public spaces and organizing the transport vehicles and road network.

There are still traces of the rehabilitation process from a few years back but the locals are slowly re-building their establishments while following regulations.

The northern part of the island, known as the island’s last frontier where well-known branded hospitality establishments are sprouting up, is now shaping up to be an upscale community similar to Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, Metro Manila.

With its rapid development of new luxury hotels, the rise of other tourist attractions, condos, island-only golf courses, the country’s famous beach spot is projected to reach its full potential in less than five years.

The resurrection of the island’s economy is indeed surprising: domestic travelers have invaded the island, and brought their fair share of business opportunities for the economy. The local government units have been upbeat in welcoming tourists at the same time, still cautious and meticulous in clearing safety protocols on tourists arriving in this island.

An average of 12 domestic flights a day from Manila carry an average of 180 passengers – that’s about 2,000 domestic Filipino tourists a day. And this is in spite of the pandemic.

Thanks to the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Tourism (DOT), the orderly and strict implementation of health protocols and tourism activities have made traveling to the island safe and fun.

Socio-civic groups and NGOs have banded together to promote the island, protecting its natural beauty and educating local tourists.

Even the local United Architects of the Philippines Aklan-Boracay chapter, headed by Architect Jennifer Abawag and advisers Architect Lara Salaver and Architect Jay Arguelles, have contributed to the local development of the island, including the proposed new marketplace in Caticlan.

Electronic tricycles ply the concrete roads with complete sidewalks, drainages, and street lights. Businesses have mushroomed everywhere. With local tourists alone, Boracay’s future is secured.

In the coming years, the island will surely continue attracting more people to experience the Boracay magic.

But one thing remains the same and will forever be the island’s main attraction: its powdery white sand beaches surrounding the peanut-shaped island that has written its own name in history with its enchanting beauty.

***

Arch. Benjamin K. Panganiban Jr. is a past national president of the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) and the first national president from Mindanao. He has been in private practice for more than 36 years and is a Fellow of the UAP. He is also the first ASEAN and APEC architect coming from Davao City. He is a graduate of BS Architecture from the University of Mindanao, a Doctor Fellow of the Royal Institute of Architects Singapore, and a recipient of the European Business Assembly.

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