Apr 22, 2018

BORACAY, PHX


I didn't expect to still be a little jet lag. It was a long week back, my life is always me running from one moment to the next. With that being said, with my trip... After landing in Manila, I took off on a small plane to Boracay!
I had the right to do one touristy thing, and Boracay is that. Outside of the locals further into the island, the beach front was full of foreigners. Prices were higher (but still reasonable), and the beaches were really pretty. Sunsets were even prettier. We snorkeled, hiked, swam, and ate well. When the beach opens back up, visit Hoy Panga! They not only have really good food, but also smoothies and smoothie bowls. They were really sweet and had really good service. 


If you watch the news, or walked the beach when I did, there is a lot of press right now surrounding this island. On April 26 it will be closed for 6 months to help preserve it. Because of constant tourism and what the president says is water pollution, it needs to close. The beach is very popular because it is a white sand beach. There are a few others in other island of the Philippines, but this one is the most developed for tourism. I learned this following fact AFTER snorkeling and swallowed a tube full of water, but apparently some of the hotels have water pipes that drain directly into the ocean. I understand needing to clean the island and fix those issues, but closing it completely for 6 months is really extreme. Almost 20K people will be effected by this closure. The loss of tourism is the loss of income for most of the people on this island. I hope the closure doesn't really last that long, but I also hope they are able to clean the island the way it needs to be. Almost 2 million people visited the beach last year alone, and in reading accounts of natives of the island of Boracay the island really is being ruined by tourism. It's a sad, complicated situation on all sides. 
Some natives (Ati indigenous) don't even walk the beach, and can't even remember the last time the went swimming. They account a time when they would walk on the beach and not see anyone else. The accounted times on very tall coconut trees, not there are still some, but not as many tall ones like before. It has already been mandated that no structure can be taller than the coconut trees, but that was after the cut down the tallest ones. 
Do you know what else is interesting? In the Philippines colorism exists pretty heavy. It exists in America, but we are getting much better at representation and diversity in media. When I tell some people (mostly white, lets be real) that I am from the Philippines or Filipino they always say "Oh I wouldn't have guessed that." or "You don't look Filipino." I guess to white people, or people that haven't been exposed to other cultures, from media output by the Philippines, I probably don't look Filipino. Most people on their TV or ads are light in complexion. Just like if you watched American TV in 2008, you would probably think America was just full of rich, white teenagers. 
Whitening products in the Philippines are almost a 1 billion peso business. There are aisles of whitening products in most stores and it is kind of hard to find products that don't say brightening. 
The impact of colorism stems from the Spanish colonialism that occurred in the Philippines.  What is strange is most people are brown in complexion. In Filipino media a lot of the spokespeople promoting whitening products are mixed. I mention this here because it relates to the native Ati people from the island of Boracay. They were easily pushed on this island because Ati natives are darker in complexion and are treated very poorly. Most of them beg on this island or take minimum wage jobs when they can. This closure especially will effect them. 
It is a common theme for me on this trip to realize the duality of most of my situations. I got very tan on my trip. In America and a lot of European countries it is desirable to have tan skin. Historically, it meant you were wealthy enough to vacation somewhere warm and get sun. In Filipino culture, being tan draws insults of being a maid or farmer. It historically means you can not afford the luxury of being indoors. Aren't both reasons stupid? Colorism is so unnecessary but sadly exists. 
What a weird rant when talking about a beautiful island like Boracay, but the closure of it really spurred a lot of research and I wanted to share something you might not know about PHX. 
LOVE, MARA
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