International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Philippines
The Next Big Thing in Travel
Jon W Wick
going to let you in on a little secret. I know the source of those
tourist ad campaigns where a sweeping shot of the most beautiful
beach imaginable is shown, where it quickly becomes the backdrop
for some cliché catch line as, the most beautiful white
sand beaches in the world; visit (fill in the blank). Yup,
Im on to all of them. Heres the secret
Philippines is all of those pictures.
No matter the country,
the continent, or hemisphere, all those pictures are Boracay. Boracay
is the silhouetted sailboat against a burning sunset, it is the sand
so soft it resembles cooking flour, it is the brown palm trees with
striking green leaves stretching over the aqua marine waters and crystal
blue sky, and it is the happy hour margaritas with your toes in the
sand. Its everything that every beach in every part of the world
wants to be. And the best part about the entire thing, youll be
the first person in your group to know about it.
I took the advice of a well traveled friend after a conversation we
had about some different destinations in Asia. As soon as he finished
describing it, I booked tickets for Manila. My girlfriend and I were
on our way.
Manila, at first impression, is an unkempt, run down, impoverished,
and threatening sprawl of a city. Pearl of the Orient it
is not; barely a shadow of its former self. The raw energy of the city,
intimidating gawks from nearly all we encounter, and oceans of jeepneys,
the local and very unique form of transportation, are enough to turn
anyone away, but at the end of this exhaust choked journey, lay our
golden ticket, a week of pure bliss on the most beautiful beach in the
world. It was only a short puddle jumper flight later that we were sipping
freshly made mango margaritas from the comfort of handcrafted bamboo
chairs, watching the sun gently slip below the horizon, and drifting
into a meditative trance by the sounds of the relaxing ocean swells.
The second I walked out on the sand, those pictures werent just
pretty pictures of a place Ill never dream of finding, they werent
the images of great expectations; they were right in front of my eyes.
It was if somewhere between Manila and the alley path we used to get
to the beach, we crawled through the same coat rack and entered our
very own world of Narnia. Palm trees stretching to the ocean then gracefully
curving to the heavens, sand so white that it takes a second for your
eyes to adjust before you can take in the entire scene, and a beach
lifestyle so chilled out and cool that Jack Johnson would feel at home.
We looked in both directions and saw restaurants, shops, massage therapists,
dive companies, adventure companies, and beautiful auburn island goddesses
waiting to accommodate any way they can. The restaurants served their
meals at tables in the sand; you can drink your fruity concoctions from
the shade of a palm tree with your mind a million miles from anywhere.
I did, in all my sensory ecstasy, notice there was a lack of something;
a lack of something I had only recently become accustomed to
and this was considered the high season.
That made me think, am I on to something here?
more we walked the beach, the more we were amazed at purely the
set up of this place. Apparently the city planners and engineers
that were supposed to be fixing Manila, gave up on the poor place,
and all went to Boracay instead. To describe this best, Ill
pull out a perpendicular cross section of the beach and try to describe
it. First, opposite the water, you have all the businesses, all
tropical themed as you can imagine they would be. The accommodations,
along the beach, very from the backpackers bungalows at $3
a night, to the posh luxury resorts.
The more we walked
the beach, the more we were amazed at purely the set up of this place.
Apparently the city planners and engineers that were supposed to be
fixing Manila, gave up on the poor place, and all went to Boracay instead.
To describe this best, Ill pull out a perpendicular cross section
of the beach and try to describe it. First, opposite the water, you
have all the businesses, all tropical themed as you can imagine they
would be. The accommodations, along the beach, very from the backpackers
bungalows at $3 a night, to the posh luxury resorts. Their storefronts
are all generally lined up with the beach path, an eight or ten foot
wide, hard sand area everyone accepts as the main highway of transportation.
One step closer to the water is the area of palms. This is about a fifty
foot wide swath of deep sand, the gorgeous palm trees, lounge chairs,
with the occasional tiki hut grill or bar. It seems as though the corresponding
businesses have claim to this area and either serve meals or drink there,
but it is mostly set aside during the day for people looking for some
shade. Then come the chairs and umbrellas in the sun, mostly all of
them come with waiter service from the closest restaurant. Next, you
reach the beach, where we normally tossed down our towels by day, and
took in the sunsets by night. Finally, you reach the waves of the crystalline
blue ocean waters.
Approaching the late afternoon time, the beach goes through this incredible
transformation; almost beyond recognition. The restaurants spill their
tables out onto the section of sand under the palms and decorate the
areas with the utmost brilliance. Tables and chairs in the sand, tablecloths
and candles, rope lights on the trunks of nearby trees, the sound of
waves crashing, and decorative lights hanging from the canopy above.
The reflections of the beginning sunset over the water were casting
wondrous, soft orange hues about. It was romantic, it was hip, and it
What can I possibly say about this place? Why isnt there tour
bus after tour bus pulling up to the line of gaudy concrete mega resorts?
Where are the armies of, too tanned to be arriving, too hot for their
own good, spring breakers? When are the developers going to come here
with their bags of money and pave paradise to put up a parking
lot? There is definitely a heaven on earth and it is found here,
without a doubt, without the crowds, and most importantly without everything
and anything that seems to always ruin the very reasons we seek the
The sirens song and clarity of water is truly irresistible, the sand
tugs childhood fantasies of sandcastle building and burying a loved
one to the surface so much that you need to recognize and act on them.
The breezes dance through the palm trees and drift over your skin to
butterfly kiss your sun drenched cheeks. Here, your mind has the room
it has yearned for, leaving the complexities of life somewhere in the
banana tree groves you passed over on the flight. This is a place where
your soul can forget about what is true, and live what has been only
previously imagined. It can sip fresh mango margaritas while pulling
up a bean bag chair, first row, center stage, to take in the explosions
of oranges radiating from a glorious sunset, wonderfully silhouetting
sailboats and distant parasails, before it slowly slips just beyond
the curve of the earth.
Boracay is an island oasis disguised as, well, an island oasis. One
that will set the standard for all future trips to any island paradises,
anywhere. But just remember, thats our little secret.
I have been writing for six years now and am broadening my work now
as a freelance travel journalist. The bulk of my work includes the annual
newsletter and web articles for Outdoor Endeavors Inc., as well as publishing on
lovetripper.com and a personal travel blog. Thank you for considering
this proposal and I hope to hear from you soon.
© Jon W. Wick March 2009
Jonwick04 at hotmail.com
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