By Gary Jahrig
As we all know there are multitudes of rumors and partial information roaming around when it comes to what you can and can’t do once you leave Boracay. The fact of the matter is that there are not that many people who have done much travel and/or have an opportunity to relay the information. I hope to help just a bit with these few paragraphs. Coming from and going to Boracay is clearly not the same for many reasons beyond the fact that we have no tourists and we have several reactions to the global pandemic. Also if you plan to travel to Kalibo or Iloilo there are many rumors abounding. Let me try to give you the benefit of what we have been experiencing recently.
Getting on to Boracay as an expat resident is quite easy even if it’s always changing. It changed last week slightly in that they moved the entrance kiosks and lately they have been entering information into laptop computers . You will need a face mask and you will need some sort of government ID and/or ACR card to show who you are. They will ask “where have you been?” and an answer as simple as “Caticlan” seems to suffice. They may ask you what are you going to Boracay for, however this is easily answered as, “I am going home” if you are resident or part time resident as evidenced by your ID. They may also ask you for your phone number. The purpose here seems to be tracking who is coming and going in the case of an outbreak of case of the Covid19. Leaving is also less difficult, as they do not seem to be using laptops and simply want to see your ID. Getting on the boat is pretty much the same, however as you might expect, the wait times are longer and the boats have marked seats for passengers to facilitate social distancing. You might also notice the fee has gone up from Php25.00 to Php40.00 which is a whopping 60% increase that I doubt will ever go back down. That’s about the size of it for coming and going to Boracay.
Going to Kalibo if you have your own vehicle does not seem to have any restrictions any more. However, going to CityMall or the other stores, they have the distinct social distancing factors that are annoying and disconcerting.
Nothing that can’t be overcome rather easily, however it does make one long for the good old days that may or may not ever return.
Similarly, going to Iloilo and returning have changed a bit as well. There are two check points that I experienced where they do take your temperature and ask to look at your ID. On the return to Aklan they also made us get out of the vehicle and sign a roster. The good news is that outside of the major municipalities the traffic is somewhat reduced. How long that will last is anyone’s guess. There are similar limitations in Iloilo. Social distancing is a big thing in the malls and there are some strange things like one way traffic and few stores closed down as well as reduced hours from 10 am to 8pm. Also there are no movies available for those who liked to avail of a flick while in Iloilo. The taxies all have the driver in a cage of plastic and the Jeepnies have plastic partitions and a rule that you cannot touch another person’s money. All of which add to the surreal nature of things. Going into your hotel will also be a less than pleasant experience in that you will have your temperature checked every time you try to get in the building even if you were just running out to get something out of your car.
So travel here in the Boracay area and on the mainland of Panay is definitely different and though provoking, it is still doable and nothing that needs be feared. At least for the moment.