By Charlie Greene
What a dreadful year 2020 has been so far. Our little Island started the year off still reeling from the devastation of typhoon Ursula; undoubtably the fiercest one to hit our shores. And then we had the fallout from the Taal Volcano eruption. Flights in and out of Caticlan and Kalibo were cancelled due to airways being dangerous because of the vast amount of ash still in the air. And both of those tragedies came far too soon after the six month enforced enclosure - businesses were just getting back on their feet. And then. Wham! February saw COVID19 spread across the world instilling fear and panic into much of its inhabitants. March 16 saw Boracay facing months of harsh, some say draconic, lockdowns and quarantines. Business after business were forced to put the ‘Closed’ signs up and lay off thousands of workers. A once thriving economy rapidly ground to a vicious halt. No tourists means no business, which results in no money, for anyone. People began looking to the national government for the promised help. But very little came. Families quickly became desperate for food and supplies. The Boracay community spirit kicked in and many private groups sprang into action and raised funds, much of it coming from friends overseas, and for week after week they fed as many of the island’s needy as they could. But as COVID tightened its grip on much of the world, donations became harder to come by. The Boracay Red Cross, supported by our local police force stepped up to the mark and delivered food and necessary supplies, along with other assistance to many of the suffering Island residents. Poverty and starvation quickly surpassed the fear of catching a virus. First and foremost - people needed to eat. A ray of light appeared in June when Boracay opened its borders to visitors from the Western Visayas, alas, virtually none came. Many of the businesses that spent huge amounts of time and money on obtaining compliance and opening documents, again closed their doors several weeks later - it was cheaper to stay closed than it was to stay open. Again, no tourists meant no money.
How does the Department of Tourism (DOT) plan to kick start tourism back on Boracay. They’re telling establishments to offer 50/75% discounts, whilst at the same time restricting them to 50% or less occupancy levels. That’s a tough one to accept. Does anyone at the DOT have the slightest clue how business works? I fear not.
Expensive swab tests for everyone is compulsory, and you also have to self-quarantine for three days after the test prior to leaving for Boracay. Although many feel it to be necessary, the time and costs involved will prohibit most from coming...
So Where Are We Now After seven months, much of the world is still experiencing COVID infections, and some people are still dying, but many have opened up their economies and are learning to live their lives again. Lockdowns have caused hundreds of millions of people worldwide to lose their jobs along with millions of bankruptcies and closed businesses.
However, some new business concepts have sprung to the fore, and we might all need to seriously consider a change in career if we want to progress in our lives. The sad thing for me, is, it has all been forced upon us. Getting back to Boracay, but continuing on about changing careers. I’ve recently seen two people I recognize, one a head waiter, the other a resort assistant manager, doing their new jobs. One is out in a banca fishing every day. And the other is working as a laborer on a construction project. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with those jobs, and I commend the two guys for doing whatever is needed to earn a living to support their families, I bet they wished they could get their old lives back. Looking into the future has never interested me much. I’ve always lived pretty much for the day. But I now find myself thinking which way to turn. Especially as Christmas is fast approaching. I’ve always loved spending the holidays on Boracay. Good fun, parties, lots of friends, smiling faces (before masks), Xmas food hampers brought down from Manila, and of course, the spectacular 31st firework display along White Beach. I now wonder what the rest of this year has in store for us?
Stay safe everyone. Hope for the best, and look after yourself and your family...