Thursday, January 15, 2015

For Anna Lysakowska aka Anna Everywhere

Dear Anna, 

Most of my Filipino friends have probably encountered your post declaring Boracay as the worst island you have visited. That hurts! Like many of my fellowmen, it felt like another nationality oppressing and wounding our Filipino pride. I hope you understand why we will feel this way. We love our country despite its imperfections.

The first time I saw your controversial post repeatedly shared in my Facebook newsfeed, I found your words quite offending. I had a short yet pleasant experience during my short stay in Boracay. All of my friends shared positive experiences. My Boss and best friend are annually visiting the island. Hence, it was quite hard for me to accept your judgment. Although I must agree with the common sentiments of my friends, Boracay was way better years ago. Back when, airfares are very expensive, there were few choices for accommodation, limited electricity and lesser business establishments around. As most of my fellowmen would claim, when commercialism was not yet prevalent.

When I visited Boracay, it was already invaded by different business establishments and tourists. Despite of this, Boracay still gave me a great travel experience. I even visited during the peak season of April to May. Yes there is the crowd but I managed to find my own happiness in the island. I avoided the crowds, tried different restaurants and enjoyed walking on the white sand.  And speaking of peak seasons, did you visit Boracay during the month of December? Unfortunately, Christmas to New Year is another peak season for Boracay. I wish you have encountered another blogger or found someone who could have informed you about this. That way, you were prevented from the crowd that irritated you.

I decided to hear your side of the story. I checked your blog, which is not surprisingly most viewed by Filipino netizens. Oh Anna, you have to thank my fellow Filipinos for the hits and increasing your page ranking. Haha I guess, we deserve another visit from your travel list then.

I made this post not to initiate an intellectual debate or cyber quarrel. I am not meant for confrontations and arguments. I intend identify the possible loopholes that contributed to your unpleasant experience. As I was reading your story, I felt  that you were somehow misled with incorrect information and research. Allow me to enumerate some points that could have been considered prior to your trip.

1. Nightmare of getting to the island : You have another option through the Caticlan Airport. The disadvantage however, smaller turbo planes and airport. If your concern is to maximize your stay and reduce travel time, I hope someone gave you information about the Caticlan now Boracay Airport.

When I traveled to Boracay, I considered myself as another budget traveler. Hence, we decided to take the Kalibo flight. I didn't regret the longer travel hours because I enjoyed the scenic view. You mentioned taking the bus with the noisy and excited teenagers. The teenage kids were just probably excited. Consider it as part of their growing up years. :) We have been through that stage.  If you can't really bear their noise, you should have relayed your sentiments to at least one of them. Say your piece or forever rest in peace. Haha Complaining and voicing out your sentiments is not prohibited in the Philippines. :) The Filipino kids also know how to value elder and older people. They will surely respect your request.

As I read your post, I somehow felt that you tend to dislike interaction and disturbances. I don't know how and why you opted for the bus ride to Boracay Port. You actually have an alternative, the mini vans that can house lesser number of tourists and travelers. Lesser fellow passengers, possibly lesser stress for you. Although I think the buses are good because they provide better seating position. In my case, we opted for the mini vans and my comfort was not sacrificed. My exhaustion from the flight was relieved by the scenic views. I hope you noticed that too. I hope someone could have told you to ignore the noise and appreciate the scenery. 

2. Crowd of horrible backpackers - You cannot choose your company. People have different reasons for visiting Boracay. As long as you are not engaged in any illegal activity, everyone is welcomed to visit Boracay. How I wish someone told you that Boracay is for diversity and not the best place for exclusivity. Boracay is a melting pot of travelers of both locals and other nationalities. 

I feel that part of you longs for those quiet, secluded and serene beaches. You often emphasized the crowd, noise and all those disturbances. Should I know you and your preferences, I would have recommended the beaches in Palawan, Bohol or Caramoan. As I see it, your personality is more suited for the less occupied beaches. Although you mentioned in one of your comments that you went to Bohol and found it way better. I'm quite happy to hear that. I hope you can also blog about it. 

3. I hope someone told you to do island hopping - I assume that you only stayed in the White Beach or the main beach. Oh Anna, you missed a lot! There are adjacent beaches that are more secluded, quiet and less populated. I hope you found the booth that offers accredited island hopping packages. You could have tried reef walking, para-sailing, and island hopping. These activities should have kept you away from the crowds that annoyed you. 

4. Your choice of hostel - You never mentioned that name of your hostel. I also don't have information how did you end there. I will assume that you are on a budget travel. Hence, the decision to avail the cheaper alternative. You should have stayed in Casa Pilar. It maybe more expensive than your hostel but the cottages and room were built with enough privacy. But I tell you, Casa Pilar will not cost you an arm and a leg. 

5. The timing of your visit - I assume that you visited Boracay around November to December. If such is the case, I hope someone told you that those months also form the peak seasons. The Philippines has a lot of holidays. When the holiday falls on a Friday, most people head out to the beach on weekends. The Christmas season entails a long holiday break until New Year. If you want to avoid the crowd, these months are not really the best place to visit, including the summer months.

You have received a lot of harsh comments. You even mentioned in another blog that you decided not to publish all the comments because it would further give our country a bad image. No one would ever come to visit the Philippines again. Sigh. While I cannot blame my fellowmen, I feel bad that your perception has to end up that way. With the way things are going, the chance that you will visit the Philippines again is almost impossible. I hope and pray that in the course of your travel adventures, you will encounter a Filipino who can render a kind gesture you will really treasure. 

6. The dirty beach - Yes I agree that a section of the White Beach is filled with green algae. There are however several areas that are still clean. The secluded part of Boracay is contained in Station 1. Station 2 is where all the people stay. A segment of Station 3 is also nice. I wish you had the chance to see the shores of Station 1 towards Discovery Shores and Shangri-la Boracay. You will surely love it there! I know, it's expensive but a Day Tour will not be so bad. How I wish someone gave you a free stay in Shangri-La Boracay. 

Should fate bring you back to the Philippines again, I can welcome you to our home. We may not have the best place but my family and friends will surely welcome you here. :)

7 comments :

  1. Hi Diane, I got your email and look forward to hearing from you. I have not been to your country but I am sure I would like it, and also the island as you describe it, with your tips for finding peaceful areas. Perhaps the lady will use your tips and visit again with a happy experience.

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  2. Aba! Aba! Aba! Anong kaguluhan eto na si Diane eh nag-blog midweek?!

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    1. hahaha kilala mo na talaga ako mother :) nakinig ako sa advice mo... say what you feel ahahaha sa email na lang tayo mag-usap #passwordprotected

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  3. Haha... ang funny mo D. :P Di ko magets kung nagsusuggest ka ba talaga sa kanya o pinopoint out mo lang ang kamalian nya.. hahahahhaa.. hahaha.. nonetheless, I had fun reading this. And I agree a lot.
    Her preference may be different from the rest, hence she came up with that post. Intindihin na lang natin.. hahaha. :D

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    1. nabasa mo na ba blog post niya? pinilit ko siyang intindihin... eto nangyari.. ako na ngayon ang hindi mo maintindihan haha.. nahawa ako ahahaha

      PS Senyora, baka bet mo sha sponsor-an ng trip sa Boracay Shangri-La :p

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    2. Onga eh, naisip ko din yan. Kasi sa totoo lang if gusto mo ng matiwasay na beach experience eh dun ka sa pricey resort/hotel.. tama, lahat ng foreigner friends ko na nagstay sa Shangri-La sobrang nag-enjoy. So baka dun dapat sya nagpunta. :)

      PS: Isa syang lapastangan, kaya wala syang K sponsoran. Hahaha. Jowk. :p

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