As you probably once visited Boracay to either relax or engage in hedonism, have you ever stopped to think about the rich history of the world-renowned getaway destination? Did you know it had a history of conservation, protection and greening. Perhaps after you read this piece, you will be inspired to re-green your beloved Boracay.
Malay, Aklan, Philippines
The Republic of the Philippines, to give it its official title, is made up of 7,107 islands, although the majority of its almost 98 million population lives on just 11 of those islands. The country is divided into the three main geographical divisions of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
The Luzon group of islands includes Luzon itself, the largest island and home to the capital city, Manila. The next largest island is Mindanao, which lends its name to the group of islands also including the Sulu Archipelago. The Visayas division is a group of several small islands including Panay, Bohol and Negros.
In Panay is the famous Boracay Island. Boracay Island is located off the northwest corner of Panay in Region VI of the Philippines. The island is approximately seven kilometers long, dog-bone shaped with the narrowest spot being less than one kilometer wide, and has a total land area of 10.32 square kilometers. The name Boracay has various rumoured origins. One of which was that it is drived from the local word of borac or sagay which means cotton in reference to the white cotton like colour and texture of Boracays sand.
The Native Islanders and Ati lived together in harmony in the island. The Ati are the indiginous people of Boracay, being the first settlers and were farmers and fishermen.
Fishing , Copra and Tobacco (first class products believed to have been introduced and propagated by the Greener of Boracay. Dona Sofing and traded on the nearby mainland of Aklan ) were the main trades of the island. It was only in the late 70?s when the main income of the island changed to tourism when tourists started to arrive. It is often told that Boracay Beach has a shaded and uncertain past. This is because the island in the early 1900?s was just one private home of the Ati, the islanders and a couple belonging to one of the prominent families in Aklan. They were considered to be the original settlers of the island.
It all began when Lamberto H. Tirol and Sofia Ner Gonzales settled in the island. They lived among the islanders. There weren’t too many people that time so that life was simple. As fishing was the main livelihood, the couple began to cultivate the land, planted millions of trees and plants. Even upon the demise of Don Lamberto H. Tirol, cultivation continued, progressed, and trade continually existed under the watch of the young widow Dona Sofia Ner Gonzales vda. de Tirol. It was to this contribution that she gained recognition as the “Woman behind the greening of Boracay Island”
The Island was used to be called as "Ro it Isla Buruanga", until one tuba gatherer heard the couple talking about how beautiful the island is.
A mananggete (tuba-gatherer) was approaching the couple when he overheard a conversation between the couple at their dwelling. Lamberto was at the beach or in the beach water as he observed thick froath being washed ashore by the waves that clased between the tiny island and the “Isla” agitated by the Amihan wind.
Observing this thick froath, he called out to his young meztisa wife Sofia and said “Acay, hanggod ka bora, Acay,” which when translated can mean: “Darling, there’s plenty of froath, Darling.”
Perhaps this is the origin of Boracay, derived from “Bora.Acay”. And that name stuck for the tiny island. Much later, the name was given to the bigger island instead of calling it “Ro Isla it Buruanga.” The overheard conversation spread until the island carried its name "Boracay".
A large portion of Boracay is state – owned, except for the lots of Lamberto H. Tirol and Sofia Ner Gonzales, along with the others like Ciriaco Tirol and other Aklan- rooted kin who were able to obtained land titles over portions of the island in the early pre-war years. Among the private owners are the heirs of Don Lamberto H. Tirol and Sofia Ner Gonzales, the heirs of Don Ciriaco Tirol, the Elizalde, Carpio, Andan, Solidum, Dignos, Sarabia, Menez, Kimpo, Dimacali, Tan, Marte, and Rojo.
Recent Supreme Court pronouncement upheld the State’s ownership saved in the cases of the Tirol Family of Aklan and their predecessors in interests whose rights are preferred. Various government agencies vowed to protect and preserve boracay. We believe that is likewise the sentiments of the inhabitants of the island Despite issues being faced by the island today, people still flocked in the island.
Boracay’s first visitors were mainly Europeans – German tourists, and the Swiss even jokingly called Boracay a ‘Canton of Switzerland’ or so we heard. Eventually, more foreigners visit the island which contributed to the multicultural facets of Boracay’s culinary choices and the island’s further development in terms of accommodation, activities, and eating. Nowadays, Boracay is not a private and unspoilt paradise like it used to be under the watch of Dona Sofing, but a major tourist and holiday destination for the Philippines.