I write to appeal to all to help save Boracay from further environmental degradation. Our family spent the long weekend in Boracay and it almost made me cry.  My wife and I first visited Boracay as part of our honeymoon in 1986.  It was paradise. The sand was so white it was blinding to the eyes, and so fine it was like talcum powder. The waters were crystal clear with nary a strand of algae.  The natives, too, were genuinely friendly and generous.  Today, you would not recognize it as the same island.  What went wrong? 


Once again, we (all of us) have succumbed to temptations of greed and avarice – the local leadership, the entrepreneurs, the workers, and yes even the tourists. The sand has turned into beige because all the cement and construction materials used in building beachfront establishments have mixed with the sand.  Locals lament it is even darker underneath.   

Algal bloom is uncontrollable, and along with algae came the spiny sea urchins that feed on them – one even gave my son and I a lasting and painful reminder of how nature is fighting back against untrammeled greed.  I shook my head in disbelief when some locals rationalized the presence of algae – that it was the secret behind the island’s white sands.  That’s not what I recall reading – that the white sands were formed over thousands of years from corals that were pounded by waves out at sea.  Alas, we have even resorted to deceiving ourselves only to justify the continued pace of “development”. 

This is not development.  This is destruction.  Development occurs when something of little or no value is enhanced and becomes more valuable.  Development is Camarines Sur, where the young and dynamic Hon. Governor LRay Villafuerte transformed a barren piece of land in a forsaken province into the country’s hottest tourism destination with the construction of the CWC and Lagos del Rey. Now CAMSUR rocks. I am certain and hopeful the visionary Governor has learned the painful lessons of Boracay and will seek to preserve the beauty of Caramoan.  Development is also the Manila Ocean Park, built on idle land behind the Quirino grandstand, which has been instrumental in increasing the influx of tourists – local and foreign – to Manila and its surrounding attractions.  Even more inspiring is that the water used in the aquarium tanks of Manila Ocean Park comes from 500,000 liters of filthy Manila Bay water that is filtered and recycled every day! 

Destruction is what has happened to Boracay, where a gift of beauty from nature – the very attraction that tourists would come to see – is spoiled and defiled out of greed. 

What could have been done to achieve a balance between preserving the environment and attracting tourists?  Perhaps we can borrow a leaf from the world-renowned Honorable Mayor Edward Hagedorn of Puerto Princesa in Palawan.  The beautiful islands in Honda Bay have been preserved because no permanent structures were allowed to be built.  Instead, they were all opened as daytime destinations in an island-hopping tour.  That should have been the strategy for Boracay, and all the hotels and establishments should have been built on Caticlan.  This would have saved Boracay from degradation while generating employment and livelihood opportunities on the mainland of Aklan province. 

Boracay’s beauty has become its undoing – like a fair maiden ravaged by lustful men. 


Willy Arcilla
Business Mentors, Inc.


Related BORACAY Blog Posts:


53 thoughts on “BORA-CRY

  1. This is sad indeed. I hope the new government does something about this. And also the townfolks, as well as visitors/tourists like us

  2. Hayyy… Nkaka-lungkot… Karamihan talaga sa mga magagandang lugar dito sa pinas eh inii-spoil lang ng mga developers imbis na ine-enhance.. isama mo pa yung mga naka-upo sa pwesto na ang nakikita lang eh yung magiging kita nila sa mga projects na tinatayo..

  3. and what do people from Boracay and Aklan do around the internet nowadays? Get mad at people for calling it Bora…. when there are a lot more important issues and advocacies and things to do.

  4. Hi Anton,
    When was this photo taken? This is really quite alarming considering
    the my entire family is going on a Boraca trip. Now we may just have
    to cancel reservations.

  5. I went to Caramoan last 2006. Wala pang development sa Gota beach. Well, okay ang beach , white sand nga pero I was not impressed with the corals . We hired a bankero to take us to Matukad or Lahus island . Our intention is to do some snorkelling. Pero wala naman kaming nakitang isda or coral. Everything is bleached already . According to the bankero , namatay na ang mga corals dahil sa cyanide fishing.

  6. crass commercialism! over 350 resorts, over 200 restaurants..can you just imagine the daily turnout of garbage/trash from all these establishments? sadly, they have turned
    boracay into one big, noisy, crowded, party place!!

  7. Maybe that’s why I did not enjoy Boracay that much last April. It was my first time to go to the island and from all the stories that i have heard i was really excited. halfway through the vacation I realized that it wasn’t up to par to all the stories that I have heard. I might have missed the Boracay that once was a place of perfection.

  8. Anton,
    I read somewhere that the reason from all the algae growth is the presence of E. coli in the water. There was an American that took samples of water in Boracay and the lab results showed high levels of E. Coli – high enough to make someone sick. If I find the report, I’ll forward it to you.
    The E. coli is present because some, if not many, hotels leak their sewage in the water as well – thesame water we swim at! If the overgrowth of algae is still there, then I guess that means that problem is still not being addressed.
    Sigh! I love Boracay too. My husband and his family fell in love with the place and want to come back as well.
    It really is paradise.. or should I say, was??

  9. It all boils down to greed!!!!!!!!!!!! Members of the Tirol family who owned most of the island have sold most of the properties for uncontrolled development. They either wasted best properties like the Pearl of the Pacific located in one of the best beaches in the island, is ill-maintained, has one of the worse food and service. What a waste. There are others like El Centro, also of a relative, that build sad looking structures. The place is over-run by unruly foreigners most especially “K’s” our fellow Asians. It has become so commercial with mostly over-priced prices for food. Puerto Gallera is another sad story.

  10. For years already, the allure of Boracay is not the beach anymore but the ‘party atmosphere’ at shore. If it’s the white sands you are after, you need to go elsewhere … like the Bantayan Island of Cebu

  11. i agree, ive been to boracay a few times and the very first time i went there i really thought i was stepping on powder and not sand, thats how beautiful it was then, really powdery sand and that was duRing the peak of summer. Last year I was at Boracay and it really changed a lot, wala na yung feeling that I am in an island, they even have Shakeys and starbucks now…its really sad and I agree that indeed Palawan is so unlike Boracay.

  12. I’m afraid it’s the reality. I did not really enjoyed my stay in Boracay in 2007. It’s discusting but the problem is many undeveloped beaches wanted to follow Boracay, sigh. okay na ko sa mga beaches na walang night life.

  13. If money is at stake people don’t care or bother to take a second look. From our beaches to the metropolis of Manila you will see it yourself. It’s look like a big bowl of garbage. We love the Philippines we need to preserved the beauty of it for our kids and to the next generation.

  14. I was fortunate enough to see boracay during the early 80’s. Yes Anton its really sad to see how overdevelopment ruined boracay. Its like evey year the situation there is becoming worst. Gone are the natives that would climb trees to get you a coconut. Its ireversable damage I tell you. Hopefully the local government would wake up and do something about it.

  15. Excerpts from the article “Boracay’s Road to Ruin”
    – Experts like Francis Gentoral, program manager of the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) in the Philippines, point to clear evidence of the island’s ruin: the algal bloom that now appears near the shore from December to May, the peak tourist season here, and the rising number of cases of water-borne diseases.
    – British marine scientist Pierre Pillout wrote a study about Boracay that showed a strong link between groundwater and coastal waters. Pillout found an abundance of ammonia, nitrate and phosphate in the coastal waters of the island, causing the algal bloom that comes this time of the year.
    – Since Boracay has no manufacturing industry or agriculture that could help explain the presence of ammonia, nitrate and phosphate in the coastal waters, Pillout said the algal bloom could be caused only by the flow of sewage from septic tanks and other on-site sanitation systems.
    For those who wish to read the full article:

  16. Dear Anton,
    Many thanks for posting this article on your blog. (Thank you too to all who posted comments). Given your popularity as a champion of Philippine tourism (and cuisine), perhaps someone could start a signature drive to put a moratorium on more developments on the beachfront of White Beach. It’s never too late to rehabilitate if we all do our share. Another great example is what the Ayala family of Davao did to the mountains that were once stripped bare from clear cutting for lumber. They replanted many hectares with thousands of pine trees, and it now looks like a forest park from the United States — it’s called EDEN, and if you haven’t been there, please go so that you can see it’s never too late to revitalize mother earth. God bless all of us. Willy A

  17. Hi Anton,
    This is off-topic, we saw an episode on Mel and Joey on traveling safe in the Philippines. This is in relation to the tragedy that happened to one of the families en route Puerto Galera. We really think your readers can benefit from this.
    This is the cause on Facebook.
    Happy Father’s Day!

  18. No need to cancel your trip. While it is true that greedy developers and local officials are sacrificing the island for their personal gain, it is still magical. I could show you pictures taken recently that show the island to still be very beautiful.
    The algal bloom is here from around February till May or June, so it is possible to avoid it the rest of the time. And you are right – algae does not make our white sand. It is made from broken down corals and shells.
    And please, respect the locals by not calling their place “Bora”. They don’t like it!

  19. This article overstates the case. Boracay was crap in the 1980s. I went there and did not have great time. There was no electricity, no decent hotels, no running water, travel took forever on unpaved roads, food was terrible. Yes, the beach was cleaner but what do you do all day? And worst of all, very few people made a decent living over there.
    I was just at Boracay just last month, the beach was white. Not sparkling clean but decent enough to have fish swimming around. Manila Water has recently taken over the sewage and water system and this should improve the water quality in a few years. Docks have been built on both the Caticlan and Boracay ends to prevent the need for motorized boats to dock along White Beach, as was the case a few years back.
    I agree that we should not destroy this natural wonder but we should neither exaggerate the extent of the problem. The government and private sector are taking steps to make this place better. Clearly they should all do more but this overly negative write up is not helping things either.

  20. Hi Anton,
    I have been following your blog for a long time and am a big fan. Thank you for posting the BORA-CRY article. Boracay has gone the way that Baguio has and it is truly sad. I doubt that anything can and will be done about it but I hope that it becomes a lesson for the next Boracay or Baguio.
    More power, Joey Carlotta

  21. Hi Anton,
    I think it should be addressed to the Filipino people in general, and specifically to the DOT, the LGUs and the establishments who have profited from (and at the expense of) Boracay. I hope they all realize that by spoiling Boracay for short-term gains, they also stand to lose the value of their investments as tourists dwindle due to dismay. Mabuhay!

  22. Dear Roger,
    Thank you for your comments. Clearly you have different tastes and preferences from the others. We respect that. But in the same manner, please respect the fact that Boracay rose to global prominence in the 80s not because of the lack of electricity or decent hotels, but rather because of the pristine conditions of the island. Please remember the white sand of Boracay (not beige like the rest of the country) is its USP or Unique Selling Proposition. That’s why it became among the world’s top beaches. It is not the running water or hotels (of which you have a lot better versions in other places of the world) and should never be replaced by becoming a party place.
    The point I’m making is you can hit 2 birds with 1 stone by developing Caticlan while preserving Boracay. If you haven’t been to Honda Bay or Puerto Princesa, please go and you will understand what we mean by sustainable development. Puerto Princesa is the cleanest city in the country where law and order prevails (0.3% crime rate) and tourism contributes 75% to the economy. Honda Bay is home to the most beautiful island I’ve ever seen — Snake Island — which has a long stretch of sand bar rising from the ocean depths — you can feed fish 3x the size of those in Boracay, walk on the beach and play with HORSESHOE CRABS — yes the same you see on Nat Geo, and watch exotic migratory birds in mangrove trees — but noone is allowed to stay overnight, and everyone lives on the mainland. Roger, Boracay was not intended by Mother Nature to sustain so many inhabitants.
    Ultimately however, it’s not you nor I whom we should just listen to, but to the real natives of Boracay. On your next trip, try to engage them in a DEEPER conversation, and you may detect the sadness in their eyes as they lament the unfolding decay of their only God-given treasure, because they know it will affect them more than us . . . as tourists like you and I return to our homes.
    And I agree with Kate and Alex we must do MORE to prevent the repeat of Puerto Galera or even Baguio City. Even Tagaytay is beginning to get overcrowded with heavy traffic. There needs to be a comprehensive and integrated solution from our national leadership all the way down to the LGUs, and ultimately ourselves.
    I therefore pray that with this article, we call attention to the plight of Boracay, and collectively work on RESTORING Boracay to its pristine conditions. To quote Pope Benedict XVI in a recent admonition for ethics, “Without a tendency toward common good — consumerism, waste, poverty and imbalance end up prevailing.” Friends, let us work for the COMMON GOOD, not COMMON GREED.
    Mabuhay po kayo and God bless us all.

  23. Hi Anton,
    Your post is so timely. My family and I were there just last weekend. The last time we visited the island was in 2006. A lot of things disappointed me. The once oh-so-clean-and-taken-cared-of beachfront was no more. We stayed at Astoria (Station 1) and everyday there were lots of cigarette butts and other trash incorporated in the sand. I wonder if they still clean it daily. Apart from the cigarette butts, I saw lots (and I mean lots) of broken glass on the beach. This made me so reluctant to let my toddler go barefoot while walking on the beach. The Puka Beach that I remember was so pristine and untouched. I was shocked to see that there were lots of liquor bottles and other trash lying on the ground when we went there. The saddest thing was when we went snorkeling. I was excited for my husband to see the schools of fish that made my first snorkeling experience on the island wonderful. When it was my turn, the quantity of marine life was probably down to 20% of what we saw in 2006!!!
    I love visiting the island too and I do hope that something can be done to save it.

  24. Yes. I think Davao and Puerto Princesa are examples that it DOESN’T have to be like this.
    I think proactive protection should also be advocated in other parts of the Philippines — Batanes, Camiguin, Bohol, Bantayan. The Philippines is an amazing country with so much natural beauty, we should be proud of that and protect it. Preventing overdevelopment and irresponsible tourism is easier than trying to cure its destructive effects afterwards.

  25. the saddest thing is that it is the Boracay local government’s greed – and i mean GREED, WANTON AVARICE – that has absolutely no understanding of the fragile island eco-system of Boracay and has allowed such monstrosities like the Regency and other high-impact resorts such as Discovery Shores, etc. to be built on this REALLY FRAGILE ABSOLUTELY DELICATE little island.. i was among those blest to have seen boracay in its blissful virginal innocence in the late 1970s, early 1980s.. knowing that, and looking at boracay now, with its soul squeezed out by commercial greed.. one can hardly say that boracay is akin to a virginal maiden GANG-RAPED again and again and again and again…and the raping continues even as i write this…

  26. teddy said in reply to aLbin…
    the saddest thing is that it is primarily Boracay local government’s greed – and i mean GREED, WANTON AVARICE – and its lack of understanding of Boracay’s fragile island eco-system – that has driven it to allow monstrosities like the Regency and other high-impact resorts such as Discovery Shores, etc. to be built on this REALLY FRAGILE ABSOLUTELY DELICATE little island.. i was among those blest to have seen boracay in its blissful virginal innocence in the late 1970s, early 1980s.. having seen Boracay during that time and looking at the island now, with its soul squeezed out by commercial greed.. I can hardly recognized the Boracay that I once knew over two decades ago. Boracay, today, is akin to a virginal maiden that has been GANG-RAPED again and again and again and again…and the raping continues even as i write this…

  27. ‘initially'{first minute this bora-cry article was posted}i did not want to comment about this article coz i was very upset i can only cry after many days the pictures in this article made me in a way wanna rebel & fly to boracay & just clean the whole place-island the beaches in particular just how we clean swimming pools or like catching butterflies but instead it is algae or seaweeds this time….but i had to calm down bcoz i know this was one of the results about to happened when philippines lady president gloria arroyo had not the chance to finish to complete to accomplished her pprograms i have seen these unfinished jobs of her i believed due to internet interferances{dayuhang magnanakaw ng ideas} of those who wants to sabotage her national pprograms thelady president pprograms is supposed to used carabao island as an extra guests-tourists hotels-housing areas and a gateway bridge to connect both islands but only in acertain time meaning both bridge front lines will automatically moved away a few meters during off hours….you cannot over developed caticlan port areas bcoz that will cause bottlenecks{ports airports buses cars jeepneys national meetings-centers all types of campings & parking nuisances} since it is the main entry of almost everything of anyone the main entries must be always clear & an open spaces as emergency guard{fall back options-places} as an extra spaces to move around freely to decongest possible excessive boracay overcrowding to provide extra emergency public spaces ALL TO PROTECT BORACAY from any enviromental damages-decays so carabao nearby island was best to developed by creating anothing main entry but with time limits….to all traffic problems like in tagaytay laguna quezon or alabang areas the pprograms of mrs. arroyo is supposed to build a taller 6 lanes highway straight connecting those places from bulacan passing straight caloocan-quezon city’s boundary also passing montalban tanay rizal also road not far from mall of asia alabang areas to connect straight to highways connecting batangas quezon laguna’s etc. that will supposed to ‘spare’ EDSA & METRO MANILA’s highways -road’s traffics & bottlenecks meaning philippines highways in her pprograms are designed to become ONE FULL CIRCLE OF INTERCONNECTING HIGHWAYS ROADS ETC. that way no traffics anywhere lol!….as to why i am ‘very’ upset & cried about boracay’s problems is bcoz we-my family are locals of the island my family live there we own house there the local trivbes-ita’s are our friends the lady president should complete her pprograms to avoid more local decays abused neglects & overcrowdings i hope it can be corrected sooner bcoz tis is also embarrassing showing the world the local pilipinos how INFERIOR they are in taking care of their own backyards lol

  28. boracay island of the philippines was once a DREAM healthy beautiful gorgeous miraculous breathtaking smokeless vehicle with only greens around a truly paradise island in the 70’s i remember our family house cook born locally from boracay island keep dreaming about the island being from white talcum powder white sand island turned into a smokey concrete jungle was not at all a dream now it seems it is the present ‘reality’ the main word for the politicians involved in boracay’s abused & neglect is PURELY SELFISHNESS they manage the island as if they are ‘gods’ that boracay comes only second to their own personnal needs & attention the rest of the our awesome planet vierwers comments-descriptions about the localpilipino politicians follows lol

  29. Dear All,
    God and His angels must be crying with all of us. But we can’t just do nothing. Anton’s OAP network is a strong platform to call national if not global attention to the plight of Boracay. Let’s reinforce it with prayers and supplications to our Heavenly Almighty Father. Then translate it into concrete action — write to the LGUs, Environmental Groups, NGOs etc. and demand reform — positive, progressive, all-inclusive, long-term and sustainable reform.
    May God give us the strength to fight and the courage to win in this struggle to save earth.
    Willy Arcilla

  30. Oh my! And in my 32 years I haven’t been to boracay yet. I hope that we can all pitch in to save this wonderful place. A paradise in the Philippines.


  32. to avoid more problems in the future it is best to share-show the local tribes-ita’s their own country’s{philippines}appreciation of their origins-existence in island boracay by having philippine government build them the most sophisticated-modern bahay kubo’s village
    to honor their almost extinct civilization in the island a gift of nature to them that way they have something to celebrate about BEING A FILIPINO too lol also it is best to have all local aborigins-tribes to stay seriously involved managing local plants-botanical nurseries that way they will feel even closer to nature plus closer to other types-kinds of local filipinos in the island theyr’e the nicest peoplein the island we love them too lol when i was heart broken i used to go stores places to places just to ‘ihinga’ ang aking mga hinagpis heartaches sa mga tribu ng ita which they all kept secrets lol

  33. Hi Marishika, this shot was definitely edited, the island was never had the seaweeds as thick as that… I live in Boracay, and yes it may not be as beautiful as before, but is still pretty and worth your trip, i wish to post some pictures to prove that Boracay Island is STILL BEAUTIFUL, we the residents will be doing something about it, so please should you want me to email you pictures ive taken or take a few more shots as per your query, (its my pleasure to appease you with the horror Anton may have misrepresented boracay for a sorry trip he had and misrepresentation of the island.. pls do not hesitate to sms me or call me +639071559331 and let me know your email address or you may view in my FB acct,rest assured, this issue will however be presented to the new Mayor..

  34. typo error: the island never had the seaweeds… (its my pleasure to appease you with the Horror misrepresented boracay for a sorry trip he had…) added: ITS JUST FAIR FOR ME TO SAY HE IS AN UNRELIABLE SOURCE AT THIS POINT!

  35. lol it is not so much about many modern concrete hotels houses businesses why the white talcum powder white sand of boracay are diminishing but it is bcoz of crude oils-gasoline they used in running in the island yung mga tambutso na hindi transparent ang usok meaning medyo maitim-madilim ang kulay ng hinga ng mga usok ng mga tricycles cars any vehicles so when it rains those dark particles mula sa mga tambutso will also come down along with the rains and they come down back to become part of the white sands or paints ng mga buildings o roads na nagiging black acidic rainwaters angpagbaksak at pag nahalo pa sa ibang particles kaya hindi na white talcum powder and dating kasi may maruming ‘unnatural’ particles na sya na kahalo so expect the worsts in the future if these problems we all mentioned here in this bora-cry article will not be solved fast o ‘corrected’ the island problems sooner the better.. on the pprograms of former president gm. arroyo the clean water systems & sewages treatments are part of the new community-business building codes{as whole community}to preserve developed communities nationwide sayang naman kung mawawala yung bilyun bilyung pesos na kinikita ng taga boracay kaya bago lumala ang problema dapat linisin kaagad ang aboung isla at take new pictures ng mga corners ng isla to show the world the filipinos that boracay is very clean & very healthy anywhere they will look at it not just the tourists areas but the whole island is truly spic & span 24hours 7 days a week in cleanliness including all street canals & empty spaces-lots so good luck to more billions of pesos incomes coming to this philippine island lol

  36. any commercializations is not bad ‘if’ you partnered them with the best right thorough proper ‘maintenances’ that works that keeps whatever negatives it may results so long you have that planned-proof proper right maintenances-partnerships to correct to balanced toprotect your enviroments to have those kind of worry free businesses kasi mahilig lang sa profits ang maraming filipino hindi nila ikinahihiya if theyre inferior in business ‘hygienes’ lalo na pagdating sa mga restrooms at mga property grounds nila sige lang ng sige sa profits puro neglect sa maintenances kaya maraming langaw sa areas unnless they are the first class na mga filipinos like the ayala’s etc. na seriously disinfect their businesses properties no wonder they advanced with dignity & honors meaning simple lang ang solutions but first class filipinos ‘implement’ them so they advanced freely at worry free in those cases in the past decades lol!

  37. hi! i was in Boracay two weeks ago, it was my first time pero medyo alam ko na ang aabutan ko…. i know Boracay is very commercialized and developed already but still i want to set foot on that very famous island and whitebeach. Para medyo ma-experience ko ang ‘original’ Boracay, we stayed in a place na wala ga-anong tao/tourists, malayo sa ingay, na-upo kami sa buhangin sa tabing dagat(instead of using plastic chairs/benches), na-upo rin kami sa ilalim ng puno ng niyog at inaliw lang namin ang sarili namin sa preskong hangin at alon ng dagat. We did our best not to add trash in Boracay. And literally trash is everywhere in Boracay. Sana everybody will do their share in preserving whatever is left of Boracay’s natural beauty, at syempre mas malaking share(responsibility)para sa may mga mas malaking pakinabang….mahiya naman kayo!

  38. This is truly an alarming issue to all of us. So the next step is to be the role model to all the visitors and all the tourist to minimize all our waste. The government should really be aware in all of these because this would be a great loss and would give a great impact not only to our country but to all of us.

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