Article by Justin Shin
President Duterte’s mandate to a six-month closure of Boracay, a tourist hotspot that attracts over 2 million visitors a year and brings in 56 billion pesos in revenue, from tourist activities came into force just Thursday last week. Citing the fact that the island has been plagued by numerous environmental issues, including but not limited to improper sewage management and crowded beachside settlements, he has called the situation on the island a looming environmental “disaster” and “tragedy.” Duterte expects an interagency governmental task force to use the six months wisely and “clean the goddamn thing.”
An obvious implication of this ban to the ISM community, much to the dismay of the class of 2018, was the cancellation of the annual batch trip to Boracay. Many seniors’ hopes and expectations that were reserved in eager anticipation of a nice, restful stay on the island paradise– overlooking powdery white sands and crystal clear beach waters– were discourteously pushed out of the realm of possibility. Despite being disheartened, the upperclassmen demonstrated admirable rationalism by quickly swallowing their disappointments and reaffirming the importance of environmental protection– even should it come at the expense of one’s personal experiences. Such pragmatism was reflected in Senior Bethan H.’s thoughtful response to the ban. She stated, “I think it’s a necessary thing. If closing Bora means it’ll help speed up the management of the pollution there then I’m all for it. Though it’ll be a little sad not having the entire batch in one place, we’re all still planning on trips with our friends.” On a bright note, Bethan added, “I’m actually more excited to go to Bali than Bora as it’s somewhere I’ve never been to before.”
The ban is perceived with general disappointment, but it is gladdening to see that many Seniors are already brewing up alternate adventures that should more than compensate for the loss.
Notwithstanding the benevolent intents proposed by the six-month ban, the many residents of Boracay– especially the multitude of hotel and restaurant owners whose very livelihoods depend on the flourishing tourism sector– were left to ponder their situation helplessly whilst implementation of the ban continued to garner unstoppable momentum and support. The dilemma that presented itself to these small businesses was that of survival. Filled with uncertainty, the employees of these small beach-front businesses hosted farewell parties on Wednesday night, just hours before the island shut down for half of the year.
Despite the promises of long-run economic benefits by the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) and governmental reassurances of 2.5 billion pesos in financial aid, the countless soon-to-be displaced workers, indulged in the final vestiges of their famed party culture as the night faded to a speculative morning.