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Ladies and gents our story begins with our author who one day packed up his bags to spend the next 5 years of his life on some tropical island far far away. This land is not like any place he has ever been to before. There is no telling of what he may encounter during his stay there but one thing is sure he is going to be in for one crazy adventure. And this is where you get to read about it.

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The stories told here maybe appear larger than in real life and at times may even appear outlandish. However, all actual events are in fact real (well, most of them). What may appear as a distortion of reality to some may only be due to the author's perspective of the actual events. Some say he is just not right in the head.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Summer Break Flashback Part 4a: Boracay

Waiting for the buffet to get started I found my self sitting on one of the hottest bikini clad beaches in the Philippines... with my parents. Well, at least I didn’t have to pay for anything during my stay in Boracay.



When you ask people which is the best beach in the Philippines there are two destinations that usually come up, Palawan and Boracay. In Borocay however, you don’t have to worry about contracting malaria as much as you would in Palawaan. And now after having been to Boracay summer I would also have to agree with what most of those people have to say. The beach sand is white (at least whiter than the black sand in Batangas) and the water is clear with minimum algae (unlike in Pagudgod). Also there is hardly any trash anywhere (unlike most of the Philippines). There are actually people on the beach with rakes combing thru the sand to keep it debris free as possible.

For all that Boracay is however it is not your idea of a “secluded” tropical paradise. This place was definitely designed for tourist and the party crowd. All along the beach strip there are bars, restaurants, tattoo parlors, souvenir shops, etc., and even a mall. What I found surprising was the number of shops with signs written all in Korean. It seems that the Korean crowd is a big market in Boracay. There are also a lot of other things to do if you are more of the adventurous type such as parasailing, island hoping, scuba diving, etc. I didn’t get to do too much of that but I did go snorkeling for a bit and I’ll have to tell you more of that in the next post.

Now rather than just lying on the beach and being contempt with taking in the sun, if you know me at all there were just a couple things I had to find and complain about. Despite being one of the major tourist attractions in the Philippines and hallo-hallo being one of the more famous Filipino deserts my parents and I were hard press to find any place that actually sold hallo-hallo during our stay. We went to three restaurants, one right after the other, and though they all had hallo-hallo on their menus for whatever reason they couldn’t make us one. One place had no ice, the other said they had no ice cream, and the other place had nothing at all. Eventually, we just gave up our search and settled for an American style shake at this little establishment owned by a Caucasian woman from the Bay Area. In reality however, not having what’s on the menu in the Philippines is quite a common thing. I’ll give them one thing though, they did have the only Ice Monster I’ve ever seen in the Philippines that actually had strawberries in stock.

The other thing I found a little odd was the lack of authentic Filipino souvenirs. Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of shops that sell souvenirs made by Filipinos but what one of my dad’s friends was trying to find was something with meaning. Something that represents the essence of the people, their struggles, their joys, their sorrows… The heart and pride of the Filipino people! OK, maybe not that deep but maybe something with a bit of cultural significance or at least with some authenticity. We didn’t really have much luck finding it though…

It appeared that what most of the shops where passing off as Filipino were really products of another culture. At one souvenir shop that also did alabata tattoos, we told the lady what were looking for and pointed us to some of the pendants she had. We were told that one pendant which was clearly a musical cleft was the symbol for one who loves music. Though maybe what she said held a little bit of truth it wasn’t exactly that part of the Filipino culture we were looking for.

These masks seem to be Polynesian.



The shop owner told us that Aetas in the mountains used these mask to scare away evil spirits in order to bring good luck to their business. Hmm, personally I couldn’t see why a bunch of hunters and gathers would be in such a need of a thing for their “businesses”.

This is maybe African in origin?



The mask of tragedy and comedy with a bit of a Filipino twist?



These are clearly resemble American Indian dream catchers however I was told they are also part of Filipino culture.



All in all I would have to say that Boracay is a nice place to go. I would not recommend against anyone going there. However, if you are looking for a bit of Filipino culture to take home as a souvenir you better just bring a camera.

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