“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain
Powered by Burptech - FB Like Box widget

23 February 2013

The ugly truth about the Paradise Island of Boracay

Page was explored times

Ati Tribe of Boracay

To many, the island of Boracay is a paradise. Hailed as the one of the finest beaches and one of the most romantic island destinations in the world, it continues to lure both local and foreign tourists. With its powdery white sand beaches, the most hospitable people, and the hotel accommodations that cater to the A, B, C and D market segments, tourists continue to flock to the island for some grand vacation--a tick off on their bucket list.

Beyond the glitzy beachfront, especially at night, however, lurks an ugly truth about the island. It does not only show how cramped and overpopulated the island is since the time I stepped on its soil in the late '90s during the Boracay coliform scare that prompted then President Estrada to almost declare it as an ecological sanctuary. Nothing has come out of that failed effort. Lobbyists seem to have bigger fangs that the government and the latter seemed to have feared of losing taxes.

Back then, even when it was at the precipice of total environmental destruction, one can still see greens along the main road parallel to the beaches. One can still see a glimpse of the fine sand beaches while riding a tricycle on the road. The greens and trees are now replaced by concrete walls--obscuring the view of the beaches it is known for. Now, one has to pay a price to enjoy its fine sand beaches.

Ati Tribe of Boracay

Ati Tribe of Boracay

Not many know, too, that there are more burning issues aside from environmental destruction. Not many know that there are are Ati people--the original island inhabitants, but are now at the brink of losing their right to their ancestral domain.

Of the 1,032 hectare island resort, a measly 2.1 hectare in Brgy. Manoc-Manoc or just 0.2% of the total land area of the island has been awarded by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) as their ancestral domain on January 21, 2011. They could have rejoiced with the awarding of the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) if not for some hindrances to claim what is rightfully theirs.

According to them, a powerful and moneyed corporation and individual families are now claiming their property, and this includes the concern for the road right of way that traverses the middle of their ancestral land. Two years after the award, no resolution has been reached even if they have lobbied in the Congress and government agencies.

Ati Tribe of Boracay
Dexter Condez, 26 years old, Youth and Land Advocacy Coordinator of BATO. He was gunned down by unidentified men in Brgy. Manoc-Manoc, Boracay Island on February 22, 2013.

Ati Tribe of Boracay
Their Site Development Plan that cannot be executed due to hindrances and opposition to their land claim.

According to Dexter Condez when he was still alive, harassment and intimidation were not uncommon in fighting for their rights. The Ati people are peaceful and this issue keep them on the watch.  I have met Dexter only twice, but I have seen in him the passion and dedication to claim their land.

Today, we received the shocking  news that Dexter Condez, the Youth and Land Advocacy Coordinator and spokesperson of BATO (Boracay Ati Tribal Organization) was shot to death by unidentified gunmen. As of this writing, the authorities have yet to determine the motive of the killing.

Who would have the motive to kill a simple and poor man for nothing? At this point, we just have to deal with the fact that this young leader at his prime, has fought for their tribal rights and who had lived without seeing the dawn.

Many Boracay aficionados may simply shrug it off as just another crime. They can turn a blind eye from what has happened. They can continue to party till the wee hours in the morning while there is a tribe mourning for the loss of their leader. They can simply regard this as just any other police work.

But for those those who care for the environment and Ati tribe ancestral rights, like me, this would continue to be a haunting story.

Ati Tribe of Boracay

Boracay is not just a tick off from our travel bucket list. 
Boracay is not just about powdery white sand beaches.
Boracay is not just about endless parties.
Boracay is not just about it being one of the best tourist destinations.

Boracay is, foremost, a living ecosystem--and in it are people, culture and nature. 
Boracay is ALSO about the Ati tribe that have inhabited this island long before it has claimed its spot in the world map. 

To Dexter, may God grant you justice that you truly deserve. May the Eternal Light shine upon you. I pray that your tribe continue to thrive and wake up one day to see the dawn without the fear from harassment and intimidation.

UPDATE: 
The alleged killer has been arrested and charged with murder. Please click this link for more details.

If you share the advocacy of Dexter and the Ati tribe and their rightful claim to their ancestral land, you are welcome to share this article in your Facebook, G+, Twitter and other social networking sites.

Please also like the Boracay Ati Community Facebook Page.



Do you like this article?  Like us on Facebook, too!



Thank you for reading The Pinoy Explorer! You can also like The Pinoy Explorer on Facebook All contents of this blog, or otherwise stated, are copyrighted. For syndication, use of articles and photos, send me an e-mail.

-->

39 COMMENTED:

  1. This is sad. May the authorities keep the balance on this very unfair situation. Another one of the classic stories on the plight of our Indigenous Peoples!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is simply heartbreaking. Until Boracay is treated right, I don't think I'll revisit the island.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Roniel, I hope this would be resolved, too in the near future. They cannot be forever alienated from their ancestral land.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Gay, it is good to know there are travelers like you who show their support on this. True, I think Boracay has lost its charm, especially for travelers like us who THINK.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow! This article makes me not want to visit at all. So sad...

    ReplyDelete
  6. its good that you write about this sir ding!

    since last year, i promised myself not to visit boracay. its been a mess.

    i hope the murderers will be identified and the rights of the Ati be practiced.

    ReplyDelete
  7. @james, yes, I know your sentiment. It was the same place you have blogged about earlier. Salamat!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you for this sir Ding. Well-written.

    I personally heard the same lamentation from a local. She said, "Ang nakikinabang lang naman talaga dito sa boracay ay yung mga dayo. Samantalang kami mismong taga-dito ay naghihirap."

    ReplyDelete
  9. Izah, that is the sad part in an unsustainable development perspective. Salamat sa simpatiya.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Was supposed to visit Boracay this month, I rebooked it thinking I wont enjoy it, still I wanna see how it looks like. Now, I'm kinda wanting not to visit it, just to say an FU to the mis guided "development" (which in fact is really, "deconstructing" Boracay), happening in the island.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Marky, anyone can still visit Boracay. Why not? If only to see what it has to offer to both Filipino and foreign travelers alike. I suggest you go and "deconstruct" and "demystify" Boracay. I will wait for your Boracay review.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Tiny island... Huge greed...
    How sad. powerful write-up

    ReplyDelete
  13. You said it well, Edmar! Agyaman ak!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Boracay is the most polluted island in the whole of Philippines.

    ReplyDelete
  15. this is so heartbreaking. saw this on FB too. :(

    ReplyDelete
  16. This will give us second thought not to visit the island, even though we haven't step on it's soil yet.

    I think it's better to lost Boracay's fame rather than losing it's original inhabitants.

    We'll boycott Boracay not until the Ati's claim it.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Sad and ugly truth talaga Ding. :-). The people behind this killing is very GREEDY. ---CTB

    ReplyDelete
  18. @anonymous, henessy, and gaile, salamat!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Sky Summer, anyone is still free to visit Boracay, if only to see for themselves what is in store for them.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Too many powerful forces at work. Sadly, this is a battle that cannot be won. Concerned parties can continue to bang their heads against the wall but they'll only have bloodied foreheads as the sure outcome.

    ReplyDelete
  21. @anonymous, that is true. But let us hope for the better. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Ding, salamat sa powerful publicity about the Atis, the true owners of Boracay island. I'm part of an IP support group network and we met with Dexter and the other Atis in a Media Forum last November. He is truly a great loss to his tribe. But hopefully, more Ati youth and more of us will speak for them in Dexter's place. May I share this freely internationally? Maricel of ANGOC/CGIP

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thanks maricel for the comments. By all means, please share it. I agree with you, more young IPs should be involved.

    ReplyDelete
  24. This is heartbreaking and a powerful story at that. I have visited Boracay in the 90's and I truly agree with what you said that the then beautiful scenery that you can simply see during a bike ride are now obscured with walls of the many commercial infrastructure. It's so sad that people sometimes don't get the point of preserving something so beautiful as it is like the Boracay beach. Without the commercialized shores, it could have been More beautiful. I am one with your support for the Atis. Sana po ma spread pa itong news to others and may it not fall on deaf ears.

    ReplyDelete
  25. it's really sad that greed of other people blinds them. they should meet their maker soon, or the devil, whatever suits them best.

    ReplyDelete
  26. oh my... thank you for sharing this... I have been wanting to meet and help people like them...

    sad... this is the ugly truth

    ReplyDelete
  27. @Micole, let us hope that it will not fall of deaf ears. As of late, I read that it is gaining ground in media as well. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  28. @Lakbay Diva, Greed is evil--And what they did to Boracay and the Atis.

    ReplyDelete
  29. @Senyor Iskwater, go! They need all the help they could get.

    ReplyDelete
  30. thank you for sharing this one sir. very inspiring and an eye-opener at that. indeed, boracay is not only for parties and a tick for our bucket list. this is a call for responsible tourism.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thanks lakwetserong Tsinelas for dropping by. Yes, I think I owe my readers stories like this one.

    ReplyDelete
  32. this is so sad. i just effin hate it. gawd. im so pissed

    ReplyDelete
  33. Blissfulguro, thanks for the empathy. They need all the support they could get.

    ReplyDelete
  34. so sad..give justice to Dexter and his tribe..they are human beings...

    ReplyDelete
  35. A long time ago it was such a beautiful and magical place but the last time we visited the place with my Swedish husband, I was so sad and disappointed. I felt embarrassed coz everything I told my husband just became a "wild imagination". One can never really rest in Boracay now. It turned out to be a kiddie playground :(

    ReplyDelete
  36. So how are people who care going to stop it from happening on Malapascua? Already 12 resorts, not enough fresh water and heavily advertised as the next "Boracay"! If there is no Plan for the island today then we know what it will look like in 10 years :(

    ReplyDelete

The Pinoy Explorer is a Filipino Travel Blog focusing on travel and tourism in the Philippines that highlights Filipino people, some of the best places in the Philippines to visit, communities he has worked with, Philippine festivals and events, and Filipino culture and heritage.

If you have some comments, please use the comment box provided below. You may also comment using your Facebook account on the Facebook comment box below each article.

Maraming salamat!