The Boracay Initiative Beckons-a serious call for conservation

 

My first Boracay trip, circa 1989. This area is now Discovery Shores Hotel

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT.  I first went to Boracay Island, Philippines (voted as one of the best beaches in the world) in the late 80’s and we had a most fantastic experience in paradise. We travelled in the typhoon season; the trip was from Kalibo on a Fokker 50 aircraft, a one-hour flight from Manila and another 70 kilometer road trip from Kalibo to Caticlan, jump off point to Boracay. There were no air-conditioned buses for the long, dusty and grueling overland ride with the locals and chickens alike; no jetty port – we had to wade in shallow waters to board a motorized small banca, across the strait in rough waters. Boracay was not affected by typhoons then, however during this period they have what they call the “habagat”, southwest monsoon winds. Due to monsoon season we had to land on the other side of the island (Bulabog) and hike all the way to our resort located on White Beach, our luggage, transported by a water buffalo-pulled cart.  There was no electricity, no air-conditioning and no hot water showers in those days, but the whole stay was pure and simple pleasure. We had the time of our life!

1991 – Boracay Beach Club Hotel, one of White Beach’s “premier” resorts

WORK AT WHITE BEACH. Little did I imagine that just after two years, I would return to the island and work for one of the pioneer resorts, and stayed further on for 10 years to manage two small properties, tour operations and transport company.  Within this period, I also handled three small airline companies that serviced Caticlan, two were defunct and the ultimate one was Seair, which I had to persuade convincingly to fly there. The rest is history.

From rustic BBCH to glass and concrete Astoria Boracay now

PARADISE LOST- WELL, ALMOST. When I left in 2001 after 10 years of working for Boracay, I felt that it was excessively crowded, over-developed in a destructive sense and regrettably deteriorating due to lack of eco balance. I ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Now, returning exactly 21 years since I first came, with over 500 hundred resorts of all shapes, sizes and prices, there is hardly a trace of the pristine, peaceful and perfect paradise that I first saw. It is just chaotic congestion of lodgings, restaurants, bars, stores crowding with vans and tricycles, with no regard for proper zoning, maximum carrying capacity, value for natural environment, nor conservation and ecological protection not to mention the global climate change risks, most especially on White Beach’s spectacular shoreline.

Stakeholders must be aware of their responsibility to the environment and community to protect and conserve

FULL CIRCLE. It is perhaps the hands of fate that made me return to Boracay last April as a Guest Speaker at Events Asia 2010 and as luck would have it, talk about Sustainable Events ManagementWith my experience at Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco pioneer and Conservation leader, I shared my knowledge and experience in Sustainable Tourism and Environmental Protection. In 1975, Inkaterra opened a lodge for scientists to study Peru’s rainforest long before eco tourism was trendy. With 33 years of experience in sustainable tourism initiatives, it is the first to be carbon neutral in the country, doing reforestation projects in a total of 17,000 hectares in the Amazon.

PLEDGE. At a Social Media workshop at Events Asia, I met Roselle Tenefrancia, Environmental lawyer, activist, travel writer and consultant of Boracay Sun, the island’s monthly paper and Maria Tajanlangit, Editor in Chief of 7107 Islands Magazine, whose family were pioneers in Boracay. After the event, I thought of a  framework for a new Boracay Conservation, Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development, ready for stakeholders to embrace and implement.

Conservation Mission: rescue, restore and recover Boracay Island

 THE BORACAY INITIATIVE®.   International environmental design activist PJ Aranador  with his flagship green lifestyle boutique on the island, Nautilus and  Ms. Jane Chua, founder of www.gogreenphilippines and “A Piece of Green” Boracay boutique owner pledged their support to the Initiative. I also met with Boracay Young Professionals whose advocacy is about preserving the island.

A CALL FOR UNITY AND SUPPORT.  A challenging task of organizing, implementing and monitoring of the The Boracay Initiative© is being worked on, with hopefully, voluntary efforts from the private stakeholders  and support of the new local government officials.

LESS CONVERSATION, IT’S TIME FOR ACTION. Indeed, fate brought me back to the island, which we had come to love and cherish, but it is high time for us, to take action, less conversation! We must put all our efforts and resources to restore, conserve and protect Boracay Island, its beauty and natural resources for the future generations to come.

The Boracay Initiative is designed to work with both private and public sector of Boracay Island: the  Sustainable Tourism, Conservation and Social Responsibility frameworks  Boracay Island with institutional partners Zero Carbon Resorts, Green Hotels & Clean Blue.

Sustainability Capacity Building and Training programs for communities and destinations  include Good Governance, Rio 21 Agenda, Waste Management/3Rs/MRF, Resilience, Disaster Prevention and Management. Educational programs will be customized for public and private stakeholders, local government units, private businesses and the local community in general.

Zero Carbon Resorts helping SMEs in the tourism industry reduce carbon footprints

Zero Carbon Resorts helping SMEs in the tourism industry reduce carbon footprints

ZERO CARBON RESORTS  is our joint project with GrAt for the SMEs in the Tourism Industry to reduce carbon footprint by switching from use of fossil fuel to renewable energy sources especially solar energy and green technologies.

 

Green Hotels Asia Pacific our network of reliable eco-responsible hotels

Green Hotels Asia Pacific our network of reliable eco-responsible hotels

GREEN HOTELS ASIA PACIFIC is our network of the most reliable eco responsible hotels around the world. It works to help the hotel industry embrace sustainability by integrating innovation and added value with environmental actions in a vibrant global exchange of green hoteliers, operators and responsible clients.

Clean Blue Asia-Sustainable Beach management for public & private beach operators

Clean Blue Asia-Sustainable Beach management for public & private beach operators

 

CLEAN BLUE ASIA is thenew industry standard for beach management and safety – ISO 13009

 – the “Clean Blue Industry Standard” CBIS – to help provide beach operators with the information and guidance to effectively manage the beaches of Asia – Pacific.

 For more information visit: visit our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. website or contact SSTDI on how we can help.

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11 Responses to “The Boracay Initiative Beckons-a serious call for conservation”

  1. (A repost of the edited/corrected version of reply after that of the author)

    There are more than meet the eye, Ma’m Susan.

    We submit The ULTIMATE solution to the current problem of tourism sector in Boracay Island total is DECONGESTION.

    With and by the fullest enforcement of the applicable provisions of Republic Act 9593 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, this can easily be achieved, by the creation of a TEZ-Tourism Enterprise Zone in part or the whole of Boracay Island.

    Both the National Government Agency (NGA) which in this case is the TEIZA-Tourism Enterprise and Infrastructure Zone Authority, or any of the Local Government Units (Province of Aklan or Municipality of Malay) that has jurisdiction over the island, may declare the whole or the sizeable portion of area into a TEZ-Tourism Enterprise Zone. The Board and Administrator of TEZ so created has the absolute autonomous power and authority mandated by the RA 9593 to enforce its own rules and regulations in the area. This is impregnably reinforced by the decision of Supreme Court with FINALITY on the Land Titling Case of the land in Boracay Island, where the highest tribunal categorically declared that “except for the portions covered by the Commonwealth Title issued in the name of the late Ceriaco Tirol sometime in 1933, the rest of the land in Boracay is public land, therefore, owned by the Government of the Philippines.”

    These (2) well-entrenched legal basis once enforced without fear or favor, can absolutely correct all the wrongs that investors and owners of tourism facilities, i.e., hotels, resorts, etc., blatantly committed in total disregard and defiance of the applicable laws, local statutes and ordinances.

    In the exercise of its autonomous powers and auithortiy, therefore, in no uncertain terms TEZ Authorities can easily retrieve and return the island’s natural topographic contours to their original forms, in the likes of creeks, water ways and lagoons, public easements, road right of ways, and deforested areas reforested, etc., where most of the Illegally constructed edifices dominantly stand. On the process all of these edifices shall be dismantled to give way for the implementation of the refined and updated 1991 Boracay Master Development Master Plan even the part.

    Community Relations, Social Preparation and Capability Building are the key factors in order to achieve this end. Re-education of the old natives may augment effectively this activities. Regrettablhy, these indispensable and basic components in the process of planning and development, was relatively overlooked by the planners of Boracay Tourism Master Development Plan, and thus, not effectively conducted.

    It should be noted, that, in the creation of TEZ areas, Court Orders to Restraint its creation are not applicable. This is the berst provision that RA 9593 provides. Even the Comprehensive Agrararian Law could not be applied in the declared area.

    In the FB Wall of ATI-Aklan Tourism Innovators posted documents containing the SC Decision and the IRR of RA 9593 are posted for immediate reference.

  2. In addition to our comment we are reposting hereunder the document containing the speech lecture on Boracay Plan revisited:

    The Boracay Experience .

    By Maximino P. Zurbito, Jr.,
    As posted by Aklan Tourism Innovators in the Group Page of Advocates For Tourism Innovations.

    Let me start my piece with the definition of TOURISM. Webster defined TOURISM, as the “mass a movement of people”. He did not elaborate more on to where this movement of people is destined, and what they will do. Webster forgot to review Biblical History, where the first travelers or tourists recorded as the Jewish people of Israel, including Joseph and Mary who spent Christmas in Bethlehem. Webster even failed to consider the adventures of the Romans who basically overwhelmed the landscape of Europe to expand the realm of the Roman Empire; the Off-the-beaten-tract travels of Ferdinand Magellan in search for the spices and on the process discovering the islands of Homonhon, Limasawa, and Mactan; Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, who established the Spanish Rule in Manila; Christopher Colombus knowing of America; the Dutch navigators who anchored somewhere in Indonesia; and others similarly situated who did the same in the early and mid-periods of the 18th century: the Americans who conquered the Spanish Armada in historic Manila Bay, and on the process fortified that brave little island of Corrigidor; and, the Japanese air sightseeing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. All of these my friends are mass movements of people, yet today we can never call them TOURISM. However, let’s forgive Webster as he failed to give justice in giving an appropriate definition to the word TOURISM that still could be valid during this age of IT Technology.

    To give you the more appropriate, justified and clear meaning of the word, this representation defines TOURISM as:

    T – Totality of Services being seek by the Travelers or Tourists, with

    O – Objectives to EXPERIENCE and ENJOY, the

    U – Uniqueness of an UNDISTURBED ENVIRONMENT, in a

    R – Resting place complemented with activities, where

    I – Income & socio-economic needs are generated from infrastructure, and,

    S – Services rendered by persons

    M –Motivated to preserve the natural resources in order to pamper people.

    Modesty aside, by twist of fate, this meaning of TOURISM concocted by this representation and quoted in the requisite essay entitled “MASS TOURISM – SATURATION OF SITES MUSEUMS and HISTORICAL MONUMENTS” sometime in the summer of 1980 or exactly 28 years ago, inspired the World Association of Travel Agencies (WATA)-Danilel V. Dedina Scholarship Foundation, Committee on Scholarship in Geneva, Switzerland to confer the International Tourism Scholarship Award to the person standing and speaking before you today. It is a traveling scholarship that brought this representation to 32 cities of 24 countries in two continents of Asia and Europe, in the same year it was awarded. His principal task was to do the research on international tourism development while on travel. By coincidence or accident, the same meaning finds its right place in the VISION Statement adopted by the planners in formulating the Boracay Island Master Development Plan that we will visit later.

    Therefore, TOURISM is not only a mere mass movement, but the “Totality of the needs people that journey either alone or in a group of thousand to a certain destination, with the innate desire for an ultimate purpose-that is to experience and savor what the destination and its people can offer and the tourist would avail.

    Today, while other places of the world that ushered and now the hosts as they continuously enjoy the benefits of the positive impacts, and, others have suffered and still sulking in agony of the negative effects as a result of tourism development, let us in this forum discuss how the mechanics in tourism development start to work. Firstly, when we think or entertain the notion of tourism development, we have to consider what EFFECTS are there certain to achieve. EFFECTS are results with considerable longer period or those that become permanent, when the majority who understand and mindfully accept, continuously preserve, nurture and protect the advantages while totally discarding the disadvantages in tourism development; and, secondly, we must know what are the IMPACTS expected to be suffered. IMPACT, is the sudden or immediate result with a shorter period of effect and may not become permanent should negative tames the positive; it can easily be cured and neutralized by the promulgation of the corresponding laws, rules and regulations strictly implemented without fear or favor. It is something like the sowing of seeds in the field, where we must foresee how these seeds grow, and as they do, how will their growth affect the landscape and the environment, as it might be infested by the pests; and, as they maybe infested, what pesticides we will use to protect and insulate the growth from imminent infestation, while counting how much produce we expect to reap or harvest in return of what is sown. Now the EFFECTS of TOURISM DEVELOPMENT are classified into: ADVANTAGES and DISADVANTAGES.

    The advantage in Tourism Development is that, it is a BOON for socio-economic development and preservation of ecologically balance environment.

    A. ADVANTAGES of TOURISM DEVELOPMENT
    ■Economic Benefits:

    -Increased Incomes and Gross National Products;

    -Development of Infrastructure and Services;

    -Creation of skilled job opportunities for the labor sector;
    ■Diversification of Economy ;
    ■Reshaping of socio-economic activities from traditional monotonic to diverse multi-sectoral entrepreneurial perspectives;
    ■Justification for environmental protection and improvement;
    ■Education of Youth and Society; and,
    ■Creation of favorable image of the locality and the country;

    The Disadvantage in Tourism Development is that, it is a BANE that fuels and aggravates social-political decadence, cultural degeneration and environmental degradation

    B. DISADVANTAGES of TOURISM DEVELOPMENT:
    ■Excessive development in demand leakages;
    ■Expensive investments which impose a financial commitment and may require the diversion of funds for more useful sectors;
    ■Proliferation of social menace (gambling, illegal drugs, prostitution, etc.);
    ■Deficiencies in Local Governance and Social/Legal controversies from revelation of income;
    ■Erosion, degradation and other destruction of physical and cultural environment;
    ■Development of a sector vulnerable to many external conditions;
    ■Inflationary effects on land values, uncontrollable pricing; and,
    ■Potential source of complaints and criticisms if the image is not matched by experience.

    However, unlike the sowing of seeds, tourism development has the impacts, that are not foreseen or expected from just simply sowing the seeds. These impacts are the positive and negative, concerning basically the environment. They are equal and proportionate, so that if one in the negative is not neutralized by the positive the development of tourism could certainly be affected and its progress hindered. Should the positive overshadows the negative, naturally and for sure, tourism will thrive and there to grow. Now, let us discuss these impacts.

    TOURISM DEVELOPMENT RELATED ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS

    The Positive Impacts are certain in a well planned and carefully crafted tourism, these are:

    1. Positive Impacts
    ■Conservation of important natural resources;
    ■Preservation of Archeological and Historic sites and Architectural centers;
    ■Improvement of environmental quality;
    ■Development of Infrastructure and public utilities; and,
    ■Increase environmental awareness;

    The Negative Impacts are anticipated as they normally happen in an unplanned and deregulated Tourism Development, these are

    2. Negative Impacts
    ■Water, Air Noise and Visual pollution;
    ■Waste Disposal Problems;
    ■Increase environmental and ecological imbalance;
    ■Land use problems; and,
    ■Damage to archeological and historic sites.

    The NEED of PLANNING TOURISM DEVELOPMENT

    In consideration of all the immediately discussed meaning, effects and impacts of TOURISM DEVELOPMENT, conclusively, therefore, PLANNING is indeed INDESPENSABLE in order to have an in-depth analysis of the local conditions; to make the community fully aware of the advantages and disadvantages; formulate measures to neutralize if not totally eradicate the NEGATIVE EFFECTS and IMPACTS; and ultimately institutionalized the plan to avoid if not lessen opposition, should there be any from sectors that maybe affected, and the process of implementation is effected in a timely fashion. This is so, because:
    ■Modern Tourism is still relatively new type of activity in many areas (including this part of the country- Northern Iloilo) and some government and the private sectors have little or no experience on how to properly develop it;
    ■Tourism is complicated, multi-sectoral and fragmented activity involving other sectors such that planning and project development coordination are necessary to ensure that all elements are developed in an integrated manner;
    ■There is a must to carefully match the tourist markets and products through the planning process, but without compromising environmental and socio-cultural objective in meeting market demands;
    ■Tourism brings various direct and indirect economic benefits that can be best optimized through careful and integrated planning.
    ■Tourism can generate various socio-cultural benefits and problems;
    ■The development of tourist attractions, facilities and infrastructures vis-à-vis tourist movements generally have positive and negative impacts on the physical environment, so that careful planning is required to determine the optimum level of tourism that will not result in environmental degradation but in the achievement of environmental conservation with objectives to:
    1.1. Ensure that he natural and cultural resources for tourism are indefinitely maintained and not destroyed or degraded in the process of development;
    2.2. Upgrade and revitalize existing outmoded or badly developed tourism areas and planning for new tourism areas in the future; and,
    3.3. Satisfy the manpower skills and capability requirements of tourism development through careful planning and programming of the appropriate education and training needs.
    ■Planning provides rational basis for development staging and project programming.

    Considering all of the discussed factors, therefore, planning tourism development is not just like, as it is more than the drafting of a drawing plan for an ordinary habitable house, where every space, nooks and corners though skillfully measured it is only up to the exclusive desire of the owner. Tourism planning has its own peculiarities and more requirements than planning of the a house. It has the attributes more than that of even the construction of enormous castles and palaces of the Royalties in England and other parts of Europe, the Pagodas of China and the Basilica of Rome. This is so because more than the physical design, floor and structural lay-outs to a building, there are other factors that must be considered in Tourism Planning, these are: 1) AIMS and PURPOSE; and, 2) POLICIES on ENVIRONMENT, SOCIAL as well as POLITICAL ISSUES and CONCERNS. Let us now discuss them.

    AIMS of PLANNING – The Purpose
    ■To define short, medium and long term objectives, policies and implementation procedures for developing tourism;
    ■To coordinate and control spontaneous development;
    ■To afford/grant incentives to private enterprises that provide tourism facilities;
    ■To guarantee that the sites necessary for tourism development are not occupied for other economic activities;
    ■To avoid costly deficiencies or bottlenecks through carefully phased development;
    ■To minimize erosion of the very resource on which tourism is founded and to protect those which are unique, with potentials for future use;
    ■To provide basis for political authority responsive for policy decisions with an appreciation of the planning implications;
    ■To enable the various public services to be organized and made available as they are required;
    ■To ensure that as far as practicable, the image presented by the destinations is matched by the extent of environmental protection and facilities provided;
    ■To attract international finance and technical assistance toward tourism development and environmental preservation; and,
    ■To coordinate tourism with other economic activities integrating tourism development in the over-all economic and physical development plans of the locality and the country.

    TOURISM RELATED ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES
    ■Development of tourism must be in a carefully planned and controlled manner, not exceeding capacity;
    ■Development of integrated resorts in order to allow for the efficient provision of infrastructure, provide the opportunity for integrated land use planning and application of development controls to contain any negative environmental as well as socio-cultural impacts that might arise;
    ■Concept of modeling (building replicas for visitors to appreciate and preserving the original feature for scientific use only); and,
    ■Other forms of tourism development should be considered such as “QUALITY”, “SPECIAL INTEREST”, “ADVENTURE”, “ECO-TOURISM”, “WELLNESS TOURISM” or “ALTERNATIVE TOURISM”.

    Having considered the AIMS, PURPOSES and POLICIES, only then that TOURISM DEVELOPMENT PLANNING can be started, employing or using the hereunder approaches or methods as the tool.

    PLANNING APPROACHES-METHODOLOGY
    ■Continuous, Incremental and Flexible Approach – Planning process is continuous with adjustments as needed based on monitored feedback, but within the framework of basic objectives and policies of tourism development;
    ■Systems Approach – Tourism is viewed as interrelated with other sectoral system and systems analysis is used;
    ■Comprehensive Approach – is related to systems approach on a logistical manner that includes all institutional elements, environmental and socio-economic implications analysis;
    ■Integrated Approach – is the integration of the systems and comprehensive approaches with the over-all plan and total development patterns;
    ■Environmental & Sustainable Development Approach – Tourism is planned, developed and managed in such a manner so that the natural and cultural resources are not depleted or degraded, but maintained as viable resources on a permanent basis for continuous future use. Carrying Capacity Analysis is indispensable technique used. (This approach or method is the most ideal in the Philippine archipelagic tourism setting, applied in the formulation of the Tourism Development Master Plan of Boracay Island, Aklan; and Panglao Island in Bohol.)

    All of the foregoing discussed planning frameworks and parameters, my friends and allies, I may say, are the reasons why, as early as the mid- 70’s up to the late 90’s, the National Government through the Department of Tourism in no uncertain terms had unconditionally spent millions of the country’s most precious wealth in the formulation of the TOURISM DEVELOPMENT PLANS for the regional, provincial, municipal or even in island levels. These are in areas conceived being the most potently viable and strategic destinations, that may attract investors to pour in the needed foreign capital investments if only to systematically develop tourism in these areas, and, ultimately entice preferably tourists international markets to come and spend money. These are the likes of Ilocos Norte and Sur, Baguio, Banawe, Pagsanjan, Puerto Galera the Bicol Region and Bohol.

    Unluckily or otherwise, for our very own Region VI or Western Visayas, ONLY the little known in the 70’s Island of Boracay, Province of Aklan and the Island Province of Guimaras had their individual Tourism Development Master Plan formulated. Today, however, let us limit our discussions on the Boracay Tourism Development which meteoric rise to popularity Is indeed a phenomenon in the world’s tourist markets despite of the fact that its only natural tourism assets are the sand, sea and the sun.

    The BORACAY EXPERIENCE

    Let me now, present to you the Boracay Island Experience as we REVISIT the BORACAY MASTER DEVELOPMENT PLAN, formulated by the PROS-Boracay Island Inter-Agency Development Project Team (BDIT) under the supervision and control of the Department of Tourism (DOT), circa 1990. To be discussed are the basic and most important features of the plan culled personally from the FINAL REPORT submitted by the planners sometime on the early of 1991, thus, the figures and phrases are faithful the reproduction of the original.

    Now the PLAN:

    An OVERVIEW:

    “BORACAY, they call it PARADISE. This is the appellation attached to this beautiful island. Emblazoned on T-Shirts and mentioned in countless articles written about the place. Concurred with by early visitors and propagated through the word of mouth, enticing more visitors. Lately, exposure to the state has startling revelations that invoke misgivings about the appropriateness of the title. Misconcern with the island’s qualities that had inspired the adoption of the appellation had started taking its toll.

    The examples of Puerto Galera and Pagsanjan which projected similar images in the past and which have generated into their present state should provoke serious precautionary concern.”

    The CONCERNS
    ■Debasement of the environment, lack of concern to users for the natural properties;
    ■Patchy, ad hoc and UNCOORDINATED development – no development framework and absence of development phasing;
    ■Lack of organized information system and coordination of local transport service providers;
    ■Uncontrolled inflow of migrants without preconceived notion for any means of livelihood milling for sudden opportunity to cash-in the bounties of the tourist industry;
    ■Garish signs and variegated dimensions and styles of advertising for places to stay and dine;
    ■Unregulated uncoordinated construction of buildings;
    ■Lack of common standards and coordination in solid waste and garbage disposal.

    The LEGAL BASIS
    ■Presidential Order No. 2, The Charter of the Department of Tourism;
    ■Executive Order No. 120, Reorganizing the Department of Tourism Defining its Powers and Functions; and,
    ■Presidential Proclamation No. 1801, Establishing Tourist Zones and Marine Reserves among the Islands, Cove and Peninsulas of the Philippines.

    The VISION

    “PARADISE – RECAPTURED, for PEOPLE from all parts of the world to experience, OFFERED by PEOPLE in this part of the world.”

    The DEVELOPMENT CONCEPTS

    BORACAY is the HAVEN for relaxation. A RETREAT to reduce the TEMPO of living from the TENSIVE to the RESTFUL. Pursuant to this basic MISSION, the CONCENTRATION of the PLANNING PROCESS for DEVELOPMENT of Boracay should be towards its EFFICACY in SATISFYING this MOTIVATION among the VISITING TRANSIENTS in the island. For this purpose, the CONCEPT must CONFORM to the following:
    ■Development must be correlated with inter-spatial distribution for places intended for leisure like Boracay;
    ■It must be exposed to varying points of interests suppresses urgency and contributes to the intensification of experiences, the primary motive in the search for new leisure places in difference to habitats for daily living;
    ■Judicious dispersal of tourist/vacationists facilities and must be confined only to identified build able areas free of natural features that must be preserved;
    ■Maintain the carrying capacity of the island, with an alternative area of development;
    ■Boracay to maintain its provocative idyllic character, greenery must dominate the visual impact it presents;
    ■To propagate this for posterity, a level of sparsity of buildings must be imposed, controlled in bulks and heights;
    ■Uses that will tend to denude land areas must be discouraged unless intended for sports and other recreation activities with limited areal requirements;
    ■If Boracay is conceived as the cynosure, the coastline in the mainland fronting, adjacent and most accessible to it can be the locker areas.

    The PLAN

    The PLANNING APPROACH lay emphasis on the importance of the conservation of the environment and the protection and enhancement of the Island’s Eco-System, while optimizing the potentials of its various features to provide diverse settings for tourism related activities.

    Boracay Island TOTAL LAND AREA : 1,038 Hectares

    The RECOMMENDED STRATEGY on LAND USE in HECTARES

    1. Areas for Natural Features and Sports:
    ■Forest Reserve : 388.19 ??
    ■Orchards : 158.06 ???
    ■Nature Preserve : 16.24 ???
    ■Marshlands, Fresh Water Lagoons

    with Essential Easement : 71.05 ???
    ■Golf Course : 117.47
    ■Waterways : 29.30 ???
    ■Windbreak Area at 25.0 m. for the

    3.68 kms. Long Beach : 92.0 ??

    2. Buildable Areas for LODGING and Infrastructure
    ■Bgy. Yapak : 50.73
    ■Bgy. Manoc-manoc : 14.71
    ■Bgy. Balabag : 17.62
    ■Roads, Walkways, Pedestrian &

    Cycle Paths : 82.63 ???

    TOTAL : 1,036 Hectares

    ? – WHERE are THESE AREAS NOW?

    Currently, in its very limited area, Boracay is the host to: more than a thousand establishments with resorts, hotels, lodging houses, restaurants and souvenir shops service oriented businesses dominating the number; more or less 2,000 motor-vehicles plying its narrow road network with a total distance measuring less than 13 Kms.; Almost a thousand motorized bancas crowding the sea-lane; visitors or transient population lately recorded to be in the vicinity of half a million; and, residents totaling to almost 30,000 of varied national and regional origins and religious beliefs,

    Please take note, that the formulation or planning process of the Master Development Plan for Boracay Island was conducted in 1990, submitted and approved for implementation in the early of 1991, while Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE, took effect in 1992.

    Republic Act 7160,

    The LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES

    1992, is the year when the Boracay Master Development Master Plan was already submitted for implementation. This is the year when the Local Government Code that provides for the devolution of some powers of the National Government Agencies to the Local Government units. The devolved powers are provided under Section 17.(a) that reads, and let me quote:

    “Section 17.(a) Local Government Units shall endeavor to be self-reliant and shall continue exercising the powers and discharging the duties and functions currently vested upon them. They shall also discharge the functions and responsibilities of the national agencies and offices devolved to them pursuant to this Code. Local government Units shall likewise exercise such other powers and discharge such other functions and responsibilities as are necessary, appropriate, or incidental to the efficient and effective provision of the basic services and facilities enumerated herein.

    (b) Such basic services and facilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

    (2) Municipalities

    (x) Tourism facilities and other tourist attractions, including the acquisition of equipment, regulation and supervision of business concessions, and security service for such facilities;

    (3) Province

    (xii) Tourism development and promotion programs. End of quote.

    What is a LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNIT?

    LOCAL GOVERNMENT, an AGENCY of the STATE

    A municipal corporation, (Local Government) in Coyle vs. Gray, 30 Atlantic 72, is defined as “an agency instituted by the state for the purpose of carrying out in detail the objects of government. It is essentially revocable agency. It has no vested powers or franchises. It is subject to the control of the legislative. This meaning was clearly made as the basis in the crafting by our Legislators of the 1991 Local Government Code, as it had been cited in the long line of cases decided by the Supreme Court.

    In our country, particularly in Boracay Island, Province of Aklan, Republic of the Philippines, we are the living witnesses how the leaders in a LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNIT, frontally defy this meaning; and, MISCONSTRUED as they REFUSE to UNDERSTAND the spirit of the cited provisions on the scope and limitations of the devolved powers in so far as tourism is concerned. This REPRESENTATION only WISH is for the same situation NOT to ever HAPPEN in this part of Panay Island, Northern Iloilo and where we are today, when the time comes.

    EFFECTS of DEVOLUTION of POWERS to the LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS (LGUs), BORACAY ISLAND TOURISM (1992-2006)
    ■DOT and PTA unable to implement the BORACAY ISLAND MASTER DEVELOPMENT PLAN, as per timetable/timeframe clearly provided in the FINAL REPORT;
    ■Municipal Government of Malay took over the control of development of structures for resorts, hotels, restaurants and the conduct of tourism related services;
    ■DOT was constricted only to ACCREDITATION of tourism service oriented establishments, which was left at the option of the owners/operators;
    ■The Master Development Plan was sidelined and never implemented except for the provision on TEMPORARY BOAT STATIONS;
    ■Province limited its acts in the construction of the Jetty Ports in Caticlan and Cagban as permanent entry and exit points;
    ■Municipal Government passed Ordinances which language and provisions are ambiguous as they are inconsistent, full of constitutional infirmities and which validity is highly questionable;
    ■PTA established the sewerage system and a private company installed and operated the water system supply to the island;
    ■Caticlan Airport was improved;
    ■National Government installed the electric power supply system;
    ■The Provincial Government of Aklan formulated the AKLAN PROVINCIAL and the UPDATING on the process the BORACAY ISLAND MASTER DEVELOPMENT PLAN, containing among others the what the formulators claim refinements of the 1990 BIDT-DOT Boracay Island Master Development Plan, spending on the process a staggering amount of TEN MILLION PESOS, granted by the then President ERAP;
    ■Murder of foreign investors with considerable investment in the island occurred;
    ■Fire downed hundreds of establishments in the crowded Talipapa;
    ■Renovation of old resort buildings from indigenous materials to a more permanent structures and construction of high rise resort/hotel buildings continued even in areas identified as non-buildable as they are reserved for natural water ways, easements, lagoons, etc;
    ■The President created the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) to oversee the development of the island in coordination with the Provincial Government of Aklan, but never became functional;
    ■Provincial Government asserting its mandated superior powers adopted the Provincial Ordinance to secure and preserve what is left in the island;
    ■Migrants to the island without legitimate business or work continuously increased;
    ■Consideration of new and improved transport under the UNIFIED MASS TRANSPORT SYSTEM given top priority by the Provincial Government to be operational;
    ■Cases of murders, drug abuse, child molestation, land disputes rapidly increased to unimaginable proportion;
    ■Municipality of Malay questioned the constitutionality of the Provincial Ordinance and the local transport cooperative campaigned against the concept of the Unified Mass Transport System;
    ■PGMA issued Proclamation 1604 declaring all lands in Boracay Island Alienable and Disposable, thereby defining the manner on the issuance of Title to claimants and possessors;
    ■Municipality of Malay adopted a Municipal Ordinance charging Environmental & Admission Fee to Non-Aklanon visitors coming to Boracay Island, and a case against its constitutionality was filed and now pending before the Kalibo Regional Trial Court (Incidentally this representation was the complaining party in the case;
    ■Three (3) devastating super typhoons hit the island with impunity, and flooding in the central parts of the island continuously occurred;
    ■Province increased the Terminal Fees;
    ■Domestic flights in Caticlan Airport increased from 35 to 56;
    ■Direct flights from Korea to Kalibo Airport now operate with 6 flights a week;
    ■A giant hotel chain is now in the process of construction of a multi-structure resort in the vast tract of Boracay upland, thereby defacing the natural contours and downing the vegetations of the mountain declared by the DENR as forest reserved, thereby destroying the natural habitats, with the justification that the area is declared Tourism Development Zone.

    An in-depth analysis on the conditions of tourism in Boracay Island today, can easily deduce a conclusion that the DISADVANTAGES and NEGATIVE IMPACTS and EFFECTS indeed are practically lording over the ADVANTAGES as well as the POSITIVE IMPACTS and EFFECTS. Despite of the uncomfortable and regrettable situation, however, visitors and tourist arrivals maintained its remarkable increase year after year, that as of May this year, Boracay is the host to the more or less 475,000 visitors with the domestic travelers dominating the numbers with more than 70% of the total. Indeed, BIG in volume LOW in INCOME. The result, not a single place in the adjacent mainland coastal plains and shorelines shared the bounties of the Boracay Island Tourism industry. All of them are left with only the smog or smoke of the passing air-conditioned buses, and the deafening roars of air planes crisscrossing over the air lanes practically 10 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    • Thank you very much for your comprehensive reply Atty. Max. This deserves another blog post for the enlightenment of our blog followers! Kudos to you and your work. Looking forward to working with you in our future endeavors. Mabuhay and more power!

      • There are more than meet the eye, Ma’m Susan. The ULTIMATE solution to the current problem of tourism sector in Boracay Island decongestion. By the fullest enforcement of the applicable provisions of Republi Act 9593 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations this can easily be achieved. Both the National Government Agency (NGA) which in this case is the TEIZA-Tourism Enterprise and Infrastructure Zone Authority, or any of the Local Government Units that has jurisdiction over the island, may declare the whole the sizeable portion of area into a TEZ-Tourism Enterprise Zone. By this process, the TEZ has the absolute power and authority mandated by the RA 9593 to administer and enforce its own rules and regulations in the area.

        In the decision of Supreme Court with FINALITY, on the Land Titling Case of the land in Boracay Island, the highest tribunal categorically declared that “except for the portions covered by the Commonwealth Title issued in the name of the late Ceriaco Tirol sometime in 1933, the rest of the land is a public land, therefore, owned by the Government of the Philippines.”

        Both RA 9593 and SC Decision are the ultimate weapons for the easy and smooth sailing in the creation in a portion of, or entirely transforming the island into a TEZ area. The same Law and Decision of the highest court are the ultimate and most potent tool that can easily be used in the exercise of the powers and authority vested to the TEZ authority, once this is accordingly established.

        These (2) well-entrenched legal basis once enforced without fear or favor, can absolutely correct all the wrongs that investors and owners of tourism facilities, i.e., hotels, resorts, etc., blatantly committed in total disregard and defiance of the applicable laws, local statutes and ordinances.

        It can easily be concluded, therefore, that In so far as Boracay Island is concerned, RA 9593 being impregnably reinforced by the Supreme Court Decision on the Land Titling Case of Boracay, in no uncertain terms the island’s natural topographic contours can retreived, in the likes of creeks, water ways and lagoons. Illegally constructed edifices shall be dismantled to give way for implementation of the 1991 Boracay Master Development Master Plan even the part.

  3. We are very happy to note this blog and the various replies and/or comments. We are posting ours hereunder as we were requested by its author, thus:

    We at BARRIA-Boracay Association of Resorts, Restaurants and Independent Allies, a Non-Government Organization accredited by the Provincial Government of Aklan, had somehow contributed in our own little way to start up changes in the tourism landscape of the Island. We assisted and in fact were the ones who drafted the Provincial Ordinance on Single Entry/Exit, purposely to cleanse the famous Boracay Long Beach with any kind of motorized banca that used to cover the only precious tourism attraction of the Island. The same proposed ordinance was passed and now implemented but without having hurdled a court case filed by the Municipal Government of Malay during the last term of office by then Municipal Mayor Cawaling, who questioned the ordinance’s constitutionality. Luckily, the court outrightly dismissed the case it having no basis in fact and in law. And, thus, its full implementation. Since then, those who were in the frontline against the ordinance are the once reaping the benefits, i.e., beach front resorts/hotels with their guest happy that there are no hazards while swimming; pumpboats which operating expenses were lessened to the minimum; land transport operators, specifically the BLMPTC that increased the number of its units to more than three-folds, tricycle operators for the increase in income, etc..

    We submitted the concept on the Unified Mass Transport System (UMTS), that the Provincial Government of Aklan adopted, thereby, invited two sea transport operators with their fully airconditioned fast ferry, to serve the visitors holding the All-in-One Service Vouchers, with which included are the services from arrival to departure without paying each of the service provider. However, this was strongly opposed by the local boat cooperative, thus, one of the operators just pulled out its unit, while the other had his own sold out as a scrap.

    On the solid waste disposal, we submitted with the Municipal Government of Malay sometime in 2006, the “Solid Waste Management Concept”, that was based on RA 2005. The same concept we know was left gathering cobwebs in its closet, and only sometime on the part of the year 2009, Malay LGU adopted the concept, using the private contractor to the works.

    Sometime in the year 2008, the Province of Aklan requested us to prepare the draft of the Provincial Tourism Ordinance, consolidating all other ordinances related to tourism and environment. We have the final draft submitted, only to be discarded by the Provincial Board under the incumbent Vice Governor, who insisted that her own version shall be adopted. Incidentally the same same version is more of a Code of Ethical Standards, that under the principle of statutory construction does not comply with the requirement of an ordinance or statutes, as to its form and substance. This proposed Provincial Tourism Ordinance was drafted prior to the effectivity of RA 9593 the National Tourism Policy Act and its IRR. Reviewing the applicable provisions of RA 9593, we are very grateful to note that the proposed Provincial Tourism Ordinance have in precise manner totally conformed and in harmony with the former, so that, even with the approval and implementation of the latter, there could have been no conflict. The original copy of this proposed Provincial Tourism Ordinance is preserved in our files.

    For more information, we request you visit the facebook page of BARRIA, under this Maximino P. Zurbito, Jr., and philvisa inc., or ATI-Aklan Tourism Innovators.

  4. janet Uy Chua Says:

    I agree. Would like to help in any way I can. Opening a storein D’Mall soon,”A Piece of Green”, selling accesories and souvenirs specially made from recycled pieces frm nature or industrial waste. Developing Boracay souvenirs from crushed glass bottles and ground plastic from th Boracay Material Recovery Facility. Will be NIce too. Part of our advocacy is to give back to the communities or causes that support environmental conservation. Keep me posted. See you in Boracay.

    • Thank you so much Janet! Sustainable tourism and development, does not only mean protection and conservation of the eco systems, but also helping and sustaining the communities that gain livelihood around them. Recyling and reusing waste materials is a great way to do this! Congratulations on your endeavors and count me in as one of your supporters; I am willing and able to assist you in any way I can! Cheers and let’s go green Philippines!

  5. Thanks a lot PJ for your comprehensive commentary. Now I am not so alone in this crusade! And thank God that I have a co-advocate who will spread the word for me and seek support for this comprehensive CONSERVATION CAUSE.

    Indeed, it is a mammoth task, but a very doable and realistic one! To put it simply, it is creating a whole new aspect for Philippines in general, Boracay Island in particular and for all our citizens to change the mindset and behaviors to incorporate authenticity, sustainability and environmental practices.

    When I left Boracay in 2001, I didn’t know what to do then, where to start and how to advocate eco practices. It was fate that led me to work with Inkaterra in Peru, where the company ethos is preserving nature and culture while sharing it with the rest of the world. I learned, imbibed and promoted their philosophy of Conservation, Social Responsibility & Conservation, as well as all the guests and visitors who experience it firsthand. Inkaterra believes their eco values and practices are replicable models, thus it has earned world wide support and recognition.

    It is high for the Philippines and Filipinos alike to re-focus our tourism and travel mindset to
    SUSTAINABLE TOURISM: satisfying current tourist and host community needs, while protecting and improving future opportunities. It is managing our rich natural resources, in such a way
    that economic, social, and aesthetic needs may be met, while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity, and eco systems of our beach destinations and cultural heritage sights!

    The message is RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL: let us RESTORE, CONSERVE, and PROTECT our rich natural resources! Say NO to massive tourism and destruction, where careless and negligent travelers leave their trash, plastics and heavy impact to the fragile eco systems and crumbling cultural sites.

    GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE is doing its toll on the planet, wrecking havoc and destruction to our natural environment, rural communities and even big cities! We have to do our part in leaving less impact to the environment. Think Sustainable: Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Report!

    It is high time for our authorities, the Departments of ENVIRONMENT & NATURAL RESOURCES, TOURISM, EDUCATION, TRANSPORTATION & COMMUNICATION, and all local government units down the line to pool and share our resources, knowledge and training to implement SUSTAINABILITY DEVELOPMENT & GREEN BEST PRACTICES. Otherwise, the stakeholders and local communities are left to do their part in SELF-REGULATION.

    Let us not only enjoy the beautiful beaches and cultural attractions – but also, we have the responsibility to preserve them for the future generations to come!

  6. PJ Aranador Says:

    Yes, Susan, beautiful article and cause.

    I support you and the rest of those who will join us. Ec0-destruction is still reversible in Boracay now…that is when many will act together. ” One is too small a number to achieve greatness!” so to say. And if you are alone in this cause, you are in a lonely planet. And at this time I know you are in this stage. Ahhh, who will listen? Any hearts? So count me in. I will campaign for you too.

    The task is huge! Nobody can do it alone and we all co-exists in doing so, the public included. We can start with simple basic ECO-SOLUTIONS. Cleaning up. I still see horrenduous plastic cups and ice-candy bags, cigarette butts, empty beer bottles at the beach. Score the beach every morning after the big night parties…or just one of those regular lazy days. The scenario is harsh. Many tourists and local vendors’ attitude is unforgiving : ” We can throw anything anywhere and everywhere in Boracay becuase we pay expensive environmental fees and all these taxes and whatever!” So why, bother when there are six to ten teams of four people every morning cleaning up the entire long stretch of the beach?

    The arithmethic is not that simple for so little number of people to clean up other’s people thrash. For over 30,000 tourists coming to Boracay each month, the cleaners are out-numbered! Count the locals in and the businesses’ staff members in and it swells to thousands more. And we are only talking about trash. We can draw up an environmental
    ” Shit list”. How about poor environmental sanitation? Inland water swamps which were trapped due to landfilled for tall buildings to rise? Break water structures that destroy the shoreline ecological balance ( which washes away the white Boracay sand and replace them with rough rocks seen in one of your pictures)?

    And this is not even money issue from environmental fees and taxes, etc. Its responsibility. Its simple nature housekeeping. Each becomes a nature police. Each is an eco-friendly disciple— a follower, a mentor, a teacher, a crusader. Each reminding one another of our abuses to nature. Apparently, it is a process. And as the ECO-EVERYTHING CAMPAIGN outlines, its starts from AWARENESS, IMPLEMENTATION and finally CERTIFICATION. In the near future, one will be certified as a CARBON NEUTRAL CITIZEN OF THE WORLD. If you are not, shame on you!

    I once talked with old folks in Boracay and they say that Boracay is a mushroom shaped island, meaning the base underwater is smaller than the landmass on top of water. So old folks say that over-construction may not be good for the island. It is like an overweight body with weak legs. Top heavy. We can compare it to our knees which have ligaments that act like scaffoldings. When the weight is too heavy, the scaffolding collapse. I am not a marine biologist or ecologist by profession, but I reckon, some wise old folks may know better by intuition.

    Sustainability is a renewable leadership amongst each one of us. If we are not all careful, I would say 25 years from now, or even less, Boracay environmental abuse may be irreversible. And it would be a grim reality. A torquise paradise turned into a muddy nightmare.

    Each living creature who can talk and think on the soil of Boracay should understand and protect each and living creature who can not talk but are capable of thinking while within the waters and vegetations of the island. We do not take away their natural rights to live as creatures on earth. We do not take away their habitation. Theirs is more delicate than ours. Theirs is more sensitive than ours. Theirs is a support system that makes ours inter-dependently sustainable. The law of natural significance is that we co-habitate in symbiotic relationship with our natural environments. It is absolute. No nature and there is no life for all of us. Without our our eco-system, we will all perish.

    Many years in the past, we fear that planetary collision, meteors hitting the earth or similar extra-terrrestrial forces will endanger our planet. Today, it turns out, we are all killing ourselves with our carelessness and greediness. Inside all of us, we know that we are ALL GUILTY in our lives that we have cut a helpless tree, throw a plastic in the sea which are mistaken by fishes as food and they die, abuse the use of too much eletricity and we do not care if oil spills on the ocean floor. And we build where we are not suppose to build driving away the littlest creature that lives there to be replaced by a concrete jungle than preserve a life that gives forth support to other lives to co-exist in harmony.

    Indeed, we are destroying our only habitation faster than we think.

  7. Nice shot, i love your photos, and i really like it. Boracay is paradise and crystal. i loved it.

    I hope i can go there someday…

    Thanks for sharing

    Tanya Gemarin

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