Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Boracay, still
By Bong Lacson

May 18, 2017

NO WAY it’s Boracay.

Friends frantically called, instead of just texted, in utter disbelief at the photo – an expanse of pristine white beach lapped at by clear baby blue waters, verily all to myself – that I uploaded on FB.

Were I not there, neither would have I believed it’s Boracay.

Fixed as we have long been on the overcrowded beach at Stations 1, 2 and 3, the slime of green from algae maculating its whiteness, the monstrosity of topsy-turvy buildbuild- build-anywhere edifice complex totally obliterating the very core of what once was hailed, fittingly, as the world’s most beautiful beach.

And fixity is one tragedy of the tourist mindset. So, it has become unbelievable that old Boracay’s primeval grandeur and pristine glory still obtain in the island.

Yes, they do. As my photo showed. Newcoast at the northern side of the island makes one believe again.

With 4-star Savoy Hotel – the first of three – as current centerpiece, Newcoast is press released as “the first and only master-planned leisure-oriented community in Boracay.” The PR fleshed out in a two-day stay at the place that lived up to its blurb, “Color your experience.” (Find more in Ashley Manabat’s news story on Savoy Hotel in this issue).

Whatever that experience. But mainly transcendent, this one press junketeer found in the kilometer-long white beach at the foot of the estate. Recalling past state of mindfulness the island once begot, re-incanted now:

…The coconut palms sway, nay, sensuously sashay to the gentlest breeze. Soft, fine grains, a divinely white bed the sandy beach does make – refuge to the body battered by endless toil…

The waters, yes, the waters. I sit, squat in the waters. Neck deep, arms outstretched to the undulating waves. Ah, life is the sea.

In a trance now. A fish, small, pesky, cautiously now, curiously poking, probing my left hand, the fingers one by one. A second, bigger fish comes, going about like the first one. Then, a whole school of fish around both hands, arms, back, stomach, legs.

A twitch, so sudden. All the fish gone as sudden.

The waters, the waves, the sea. On me. All around me. In me. The sea becomes me. The oneness of being. Nirvana, here.

That quietude of om, its resultant spirituality dissipating not so gently, aye, in fact imploding in the sheer sensuality of the Boracay we all know – the endless spectacle of bodies of all shades, shapes and sizes in varied state of undress, the ear-splitting music blaring from those humongous loudspeakers right at the beach, the paraw sails now parading company logos, the banana boats and parasails, the hawkers of just about anything consumable or collectible.

The iconic rock – the coral formation that rose from the depths, dead from sun and wind, hardened to host new life in small trees and shrubs, de-natured and with a man-made grotto to the Virgin Catholicized – still top draw, not so much for pilgrims – is there any in Bora? – as for the obligatory we-wuz-there selfie or groupie shoot.

A hedonistic Eden this part of Boracay has remained, since its “discovery” by cashstrapped European backpackers in the early 1970s. I first set foot on the island in the mid- 1980s, when Pink Patio marked the edge of the “developed” area, when buildings did not rise beyond two floors and built of local materials, when one-piece swimsuits – only the bottom part – were the fashion du jour. So much – in infrastructure – has changed. So much – in crossenculturation – has stayed.

Of culture, say what one must, will or can. Say whatever. Still, the tourists flock here.

All the way, that’s Boracay for them. Not so much for the worse, as for the better. And for my discriminating friends, if only for a greater appreciation of Newcoast and the finer lifestyle of leisure it offers.

Yes, beyond the Divisoria-Greenhills- Makati of old that morphed to Stations 3, 2 and 1 segmented options for the tourist, Boracay now offers its choicest cut in the Newcoast Station.

And a bonus for us, both daughters and sons of beaches: Boracay is now but a short hour-and-20-minutes away from Clark, via Cebu Pacific. Daily. On time. Even ahead of time, on our return flight. Swell.

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