Boracay Please, Not Bora

Boracay Please, Not Bora
Sometimes it is difficult to explain to friends why saying “Bora” has started to be a turn-off for most of the Islanders in Boracay. And if this is the first time or one of the few occasions you visited the Island, you may be wondering what the big deal is. I’m not sure if it is the same with most people who have seen Boracay in its early years and watch it develop into the bustling party island it is today, but this is how it was like for some.You see, we had an island – not a city, not a metro, but an island. And perhaps in Makati, it is cute to call places with cool nicknames like “Emba” for Embassy in the same way we fondly call Sebastian, for example, by the nickname “Basti.” But the Islanders just found it funny. It was amusing at first. Then it became annoying.

It’s a classic example of how words affect thinking. We call the island Boracay. Even if foreigners pronounce it differently at times, it is still what it is – Boracay. And for Islanders, it is not just a vacation spot to go to and get drunk – it is home. It is a being, a friend. So when we speak of Boracay, we speak of it with love and affection. The Island has given us so much. Not just the striving business and the daily vacation in paradise, it also took us in when we were searching for ourselves amidst the chaos and demands of the world beyond. And when we ask that you call it Boracay, understand that we want to share something special with you.

When we say, “Please not Bora,” we are protecting the island as well. We are trying to hold on to the old Boracay, to the way life was before people started not to care and began littering our beaches – to hold an event and not clean up, to becloud the scenic sunset with ads dictating what we should want.

When we say, “Please not Bora,” we ask that you respect the Island culture. By respecting the name, we say speak the name Boracay the same way we do – with love. To love the name is to preserve its culture. I write this article now from another island called Hawai’i. And here, in order to preserve their culture and revive their language, they begin with the name. The Hawaiians don’t say “Hawaiyi.” They pronounce the “w” with a hint of a “v,” and the last “i” is pronounced distinctly. That is their culture. This is ours – Bo-ra-cay, like a child learning the syllables of the waves. If you stop with “Bora,” all you get is “Bora;” you don’t receive all of what Boracay has to offer. Its treasure isn’t the white sand, it’s the whole Island.

Let’s take a tour of Island culture. It begins with calling it by its name, Boracay. No watches are allowed. If you are used to always glancing at your watch and demand that people are on time, forget about it now. Here, you follow Boracay rules, no watches. The sunset is the best entertainment. Pause and revel at the changes in colors. Wait for the Boracay flying foxes to make their way through orange clouds. They are rare and endangered; these flying foxes are what created the forests of Boracay and Aklan. Take a leisurely walk from Station 1 to Station 2, listen to the waves – it’s the Island talking. Heartbroken, the Island heals you. Lost, it finds you.

This is the secret that we discovered in Boracay years ago. It’s what took us away from our place of birth to find a home here. In Makati, you can have your clubs and your funny music; you can have your air-conditioned malls. Have your rave parties, and get drunk and puke on the streets. But please, not here. In Boracay, learn our culture. Because everyday we fight for it, and it should be for everybody. It is a secret we would like to share, only if you’d let us. Everyday, we lose a bit of the Boracay memory, and every time “Bora” is said, the name stops being amusing. It is a name coined by people who cared less about this Island that has taken care of us. It has been a word used by ad agencies to commercialize the Island and to gain more popularity among Manila’s yuppie crowd.

If you complain about Boracay being overcrowded, littered, etc., you don’t yet know the Island. Try to know it. Then perhaps, as you walk through the long stretch of white sand, you’ll pick up that empty mineral water bottle. If you work for a company that profits from Boracay, perhaps create projects to conserve it. Notice that there are no recycle bins in every corner. What will a little sponsorship take? Can’t Smart donate recycle bins? It is a better ad placement than the sailboats. Can Shakey’s sponsor a clean-up drive to get rid of the plastics on the beaches? Will Havaiianas have a walk in the Boracay forest and teach about the endangered endemic flora and fauna in the island like the Golden Crown Flying Foxes? Plant a tree, plant a reef. How much will it cost to have a little of Boracay back each day?

So please, not “Bora.” Please call it Boracay.

(From Boracay Sun Newspaper and Boracay Please, Not Bora Facebook Page)

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