Archive for Boracay Island

Five signs of a healthy beach

Posted in Boracay, Clean Blue Asia, Coron, Good Governance, Green Hotels, Responsible Travel, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Tourism, Zero Carbon Resorts with tags , , , , on September 16, 2011 by Sustainability Guru

Boracay Island before and lately, the over-crowded White Beach

There is enough on earth for everybody’s need, but not for everybody’s greed ~ Mahatma Gandhi

With the recent ruckus about a mega development  in Boracay Island, Philippines side by side its latest accolades, voted as 2012 World’s Best Islands by Travel+Leisure and Best Beach in the World, Number 1 in Asia by TripAdvisor, all the more this island’s authorities and stakeholders should protect and conserve it for future generations. IF they wish to see it thriving  in the next 30 years yet.

The Boracay Initiative Presentation at the First Environmental Forum

In our efforts to organize The Boracay Initiative, where we have sought the institutional support from international organizations in marine and coastal ecological systems conservation, we learned these five signs of a healthy beach from Nature Conservancy. Likewise, the Philippines’ concerned agencies as well as citizens in general should take action to protect their 7,107 islands!

Lack of development is just one sign of a HEALTHY beach. I’ll take an undeveloped beach anytime than one that is teeming with people (and consequently  trash and heavy footprints) without regard for ecological balance, so, if you care enough about your favorite beach, make sure it has these top five signs in keeping it healthy and ensure its sustainability!

Postcard photo by Rene Thalman of Boracay White Beach circa late 80s

1) Shells and Wildlife

In the late 80s, in my first time to Boracay, a stroll along White Beach as well as uninhabited Puka Beach will reveal a sparkling assortment of seashells and abundance of green moss or algae that turn ultimately turns into white dust when dried,washed up by the gentle waves and also after the monsoon season. From surf clams to ghost crabs, the treasures that  surface after this season reveal the diversity of life hidden in the water.

The line of marine debris (NOT trash) left over after high tide is a source of food and an important breeding ground for fish and other aqua species.


2) Natural Sand banks

Sand banks are a coastal community’s lifeguards. These sandy mounds — and their  low-growing plants (not to be confused with weeds!) — protect the beaches in  front of them and the land behind them. Running parallel to the shoreline, gentle sloping sand dunes provide a buffer for our roads and protect infrastructure from floods. They also provide nesting habitat and a sand reserve, which comes in andy after sand shifts as a result of a storm or moonsoon rains.

How could Boracay stakeholders let this happen to the "World's Best Island"?

Zoning and carrying capacity limits should be observed in order to maintain natural natural cycles in marine-coastal eco systems and their influence in global warming and climate change.

There must be enough room behind the beach for the dunes to move landward  in the face of storms and sea-level rise”.  Zoning and carrying capacity limits should be observed in order to maintain natural natural cycles in marine-coastal eco systems and their influence in global warming and climate change.

3) Good Water Quality

After a heavy rainfall, storm water can overwhelm sewage systems. That yucky runoff also picks up fertilizer and trash as it flows into the streams and rivers that ultimately spill into our oceans. Needless to say, whatever limited water source is available needs to be conserved and maintained.

Diminising and deteriorating Boracay White Beach

4) No Garbage

It is disappointing to see a beautiful beach littered with plastic bags, soda cans and cigarette butts, but that’s the reality of many recreational beaches. Not only is trash an eyesore, but it also kills marine animals when they ingest it or become entangled.

Littering on the beach is just one part of the problem; people are also dumping trash directly into our waters. In many cases, ships are still illegally dumping into our oceans. “People throw trash overboard on ships and guess what? A lot of it washes up on the beach.”

Littering on the beach is just one part of the problem; people are also dumping trash directly into our waters.

What goes round, comes round. The garbage you throw, goes back to you.  Use less. Act more.

5) Beachscapes, marshlands and swamps

Tidal mudflats, marshlands, ponds, lagoons, swamps and upland forests all help guard our beaches in the face of severe storms. Thus, mangroves are being reforested in Coron, Palawan. They run parallel to the coast and provide a first line of defense for beaches when a storm hits. In addition to shielding the coast, many beach landscapes shelter a variety of fauna as well as flora that protects the beaches.

Our greatest concern for our beaches must go beyond the beyond beaches and must encompass, more holistically, the entire beachscapes, marshes, swamps and wetlands complex. They are all linked, and necessarily in the so called “balance of nature”.

Everything is connected, and it’s important to remember to protect the entire dynamic ecosystem to maintain hope and health along our beaches and coasts. Environmental awareness AND education is critical for all to find ways to go forward with development, while ensuring that the planet’s life support systems are protected, preserved, and conserved. This is the idea behind the concept of sustainable development especially in Philippine TOURISM where livelihoods and attractions are mainly based on the NATURAL RESOURCES and the ENVIRONMENT. It seems odd that people have to be taught how to correctly develop, but there are reasons to believe many people still do not understand the impact that human actions have had and continue to have on the environment and our one and only planet!

Good environmentalism
is good economics ~ B. Conable

According to Ocean Conservancy,  cleanups alone can’t solve the marine debris problem; we need to stop it at the source. “Armed with knowledge about the most prevalent components of marine debris, elected officials can make informed policy decisions, and community leaders can more effectively tailor and expand recycling and other waste reduction programs. Corporations can see the need for improved technology and reduced packaging, and individuals are inspired to properly dispose of trash to keep it out of the ocean.”

We know the problems...and we know the solution. Sustainable development. The issue is the political will ~ Tony Blair

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, it’s not going to get better. It’s not. ~Dr. Seuss

The Coron Initiative , The Boracay Initiative & The Negros Occidental Initiative  are Sustainable Tourism, Conservation and Social Responsibility frameworks being implemented in Coron,Calamianes and West Visayas with institutional partners Zero Carbon Resorts, Green Hotels & The Clean Blue.

THE CLEAN BLUE ASIA is the new bespoke beach standards to help provide sustainable future to the industry – the public and private beach operators – to effectively manage the beaches of Asia – Pacific. Sustainability Capacity Building programs for destinations and communities and include Good Governance in the implementation of UNEP’s Manila Declaration,  DENR-EMB’s Integrated Coastal Management and the Coral Triangle Initiative to promote sustainable development and ensure the long term productivity of coastal resources while providing social services, increasing resilience and lessening poverty in coastal communities.

Education & training  can be customized for public and private stakeholders, local government units, private businesses and the local community in general.

For more information visit: or contact SSTDI.


The Boracay Initiative Beckons-a serious call for conservation

Posted in Boracay, Clean Blue Asia, Good Governance, Green Hotels, Responsible Travel, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Events, Sustainable Tourism with tags , , , , , , , on July 23, 2010 by Sustainability Guru


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.