Whether you’re a Filipino or a foreigner, I highly encourage you to visit and enjoy one of nature’s greatest spots – Boracay, Philippines. Many have been said and written about this picturesque island; lately a number of negative/discouraging posts and comments had been made because of “the island being too congested and commercialized.” But I, for one, beg to differ.
Boracay has always been a source of pride for Filipinos. The island is surrounded by stunning white sand beaches, making it a top-competition of the best beaches of the world. In fact, it’s not unheard of that a number of foreign and local celebrities and personalities frequently spend their vacation in the island.
In the past couple of years, I’ve been blessed to have the time and resources to enjoy Boracay twice (2008 and 2010). Crossing fingers, I’m Bora-bound again before the year ends. Here are some basic, quick tips that I’d like to share to fully maximize and make your island experience one for the books!
1. Going to Boracay is merely an hour’s flight away from Manila (or Cebu). If you’re thinking of an alternate mode of transportation, you may also consider traveling via road and ferry. I personally suggest to just travel by plane as it saves more time and energy. Also if you can, try to book a flight to Caticlan airport rather than Kalibo. The former is just five to ten minutes ride away from the boat port; while the latter will take more or less two hours of additional land travel.
After the plane ride, you’d be traveling by boat (for a good 10-15 minutes) to reach the island. From there, you can ride a van (if you’ve booked a hotel with pick-up/transfer freebies) or motorized tricycles which are the “taxis/cabs” of the island.
Now, although this is a short-flight, it’s always a must that you bring a bottle of water and some crackers with you. Travel delays may happen so it’s better if you have something to snack on while waiting.
2. Get around. Hop from one station to another, from one island to the next. Sure, lounging is fine, sunbathing is good, people-watching is interesting, but you’re in an island, so go, enjoy the sun and sand. Instead of riding a tricycle, just try walking around. If you’re with your loved ones and having fun, you won’t even notice how far you’ve reached.
3. Explore and do as much activity as you can. Swim, scuba dive, cliff dive, kite-board, parasail, motorbike, and skim-board. Try something new that the island offers. And don’t forget to get a massage! I don’t know what it is, but Boracay’s massage is pure heaven!
4. Enjoy the “happy hour.” But the thing is, in the island, any hour is practically a happy one. So, just make the most out of it. Nightlife in Bora is particularly interesting, especially during peak season. So, while you drink and dance your heart out, just make certain you secure your valuables, too. You wouldn’t want your Boracay experience to just be about your stolen camera or phone, right?
5. Lastly, (as if I haven’t stressed this enough) ENJOY! Savor nature’s beauty, breathe in the stunning sunshine, let the dawn give you peace and quiet. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been in Boracay or if it’s going to be your first time. It even doesn’t matter if you’re traveling alone or with your loved ones. In the island, nature is your friend and your playground.
Bonus tip: Don’t leave Boracay without trying Jonah’s Fruit Shake!
A year ago, during this time, Phantom of the Opera (World Tour) was playing eight times a week at Cultural Center of the Philippines. It was truly an exciting time, especially for Filipino “Phans” who’ve yet to watch the musical live.
As a massive musical junkie, this was a very BIG deal for me. And just like the stars reminisce their time in Manila,
here’s my recount of my 2012 Phantom experience!
No Words, Just Feelings: The Phantom Experience
(originally written and blogged: Oct. 5, 2012)
‘Know that overwhelming feeling you get when you want to express something but your thoughts are just so incoherent that there’s no other option but to feel? Well, that’s where I am now. I have no words, which is a bit scary since I write for a living. But what can I do? My emotions are so raw; they come in palpable waves.
The thing is I’m not sad. On the contrary, I have exultant feelings inside that give me the chills. Methinks checking The Phantom of the Opera (POTO) off my bucket list had that effect on me. I guess it’s better to start from the beginning. I may not have the words right now, but I have the feelings…
Long Ago, It Seems So Long Ago
In 1998, the outrageous Italian film Il Fantasma dell Opera introduced me to The Phantom of the Opera. Frankly, the movie butchered the story. Thankfully, I heard about Andrew Lloyd Webber’s adaptation. And after reading the book, watching videos one too many and listening to the songs repeatedly, I was just blown away. Hence, the start of my love affair with musicals.
Over the years, I fervently wished for a chance to see ALW’s production. Alas, life often interfered with plans of going abroad to watch it. But as the old adage goes, good things come to those who wait. February 15, 2012, a twit about the [sic] “Phantom’s producers fixing adjustments for the famous chandelier” rendered me berserk. I had to read the twit over and over to check if I interpreted the message correctly.
And I did! Nothing else to say from then on but “This is it!”
I was supposed to watch the show the first time around with my college friends but circumstances didn’t end up the way we hoped for. Unknowingly, my sister, who went home for a quick vacation, sneakily purchased an advanced birthday present/ticket for me!
September 25 came – sun all shining, birds all chirping, rainbow (in my mind) appearing – and I was nervous, excited and pumped. And then I saw the Phantom’s (Jonathan Roxmouth) twit about his sore throat. (Okay, say it with me now… OH NOOOO!!!)
So I became nervous, excited, and pumped AND a tinee-winee bit disappointed. But standing inside the CCP, waiting for the queue to shorten, I realized that I didn’t want him to perform if he wasn’t feeling well. Quite a bummer, true, but at least I have another reason to watch the Phantom again!
Instead of the towering Jonathan Roxmouth, Ian Jon Bourg played the title role. Claire Lyon and Anthony Downing played Christine and Raoul, respectively. For more than two hours that night, I was stunned. I was constantly tearing up because I was enthralled with how everything went well together – the actors’ voices, the props, the costumes and the music, my God, the music! Andrew Lloyd Webber is god.
I went home reeling from the feeling that I’ve just experienced one of the best nights of my year. I ended that night thinking I don’t know why anybody does drugs when watching musicals can give you such a high.
Pass The Thought of If And When
The following day, as I reflected on what happened the night before, a thought kept nagging on my mind. I was BBM-ing a fellow Phantom junkie, when a wild idea popped out of nowhere. What’s the best way to iron a confusion than to go straight to the source, right? So with shaking fingers, I sent Jonathan an online message. Surprise, surprise, he replied! (Okay, say it with me now… AWWW!!!)
A few hi-hellos, my question answered, and a “deal” made with Jonathan later, I planned another night with the Phantom with my college friends the following week. And what do you know, our schedules have gone crazy so in the end I purchased a ticket just for myself. Yep, solo flight again, until I told Phantom-Junkie-Friend about my plans. She nonchalantly asked for my seat number so she can buy herself her THIRD ticket!
October 3 came – sun all hiding, birds all shivering, rainbow (in my mind) appearing – and I was BEYOND nervous. You can say that Jonathan made quite impression on me and I was just looking forward to FINALLY hear him sing. Dressing up for the musical that night became a production of my own – several costume (dresses) change, an a capella version of Music of the Night, and a number of bouts of palpitations! But it was a good a feeling, like knowing you’re going to receive a wonderful gift but you just don’t know yet HOW wonderful it’s gonna be.
So, amidst the heavy downpour of rain and the fever plaguing me all week, I met with Phantom-Junkie-Friend and with bated breath, waited for the clock to turn 8.
Heightens Each Sensation
POTO started. The spectacular chandelier was revealed. The singing commenced. So far, so good. But by the end of Little Lottie, I was fidgeting on my seat, twisting the hem of my dress, anxiously awaiting for the mask’s reflection in the mirror.
When I heard the Phantom raged,“Insolent boy, This slave of fashion, Basking in your glory!” I never stood a chance. I sat there, heart wildly beating, transfixed with the Phantom’s voice. Jonathan’s characterization of the Phantom heightened each of my sensation. By the time he sang Music of the Night, I reckon everyone in the audience was “floating, falling, (to) sweet intoxication.”
I tried so hard not to tear up because I knew that if I start, it would be difficult for me to control the sobs from coming. However, when the Phantom started singing All I Ask Of You, I gave up. Hearing the ache in his voice, seeing him covering his ears, left me raw inside. I was pretty much a human live-wire- all feelings, raw emotions, knees shaking, until the very end of the show. And that was even BEFORE Phantom-Junkie-Friend and I met Claire and Jonathan up close!
Echo In This Whisper
‘Know that overwhelming feeling you get when you want to express something but you’re just too emotionally invested to form words? That I am after my second night with the Phantom. The thing is I’m not trying to be melo-or-overly dramatic. On the contrary, I’m simply happy. Writing this down, I realized why my Phantom experience has this profound effect on me that leaves me blindly grasping for words.
The Phantom vibrates such a life force. And although it belonged to him and him alone, it has the kind of force that surges to those who hear him sing… a force that ripples to my being. To finally fulfill a dream to see the whole production and hear the Phantom sing brought me immense joy. And pain. Because after a year and ten months of losing Dad, I can finally say that even for a night, I was completely, utterly and peacefully happy. The Phantom’s voice bruised my heart with joy. And ‘know what, I wouldn’t have it any other way.