Whenever I hear the word Boracay, one of the top 10 beaches in the world, what comes to my mind are the over-crowded place and too much commercialization. This was the reason why I never showed interest in going to this popular beach destination in the Philippines even though Boracay is famed for its powdery white sand beaches. Cheap vacations is another story so when I got a hold of this super cheap airfare (less than $2 RT tickets), I didn’t let the opportunity go to waste. I headed to Boracay to see for myself why people were raving about the island’s famous white sand beaches. And this is where I met a kind-hearted soul in this paradise island resort in the pacific.
a taste of paradise island in the pacific
To start off, this entry is my first project where I will feature random strangers I met and will meet as my travelling feet trot my country, the Philippines, and the rest of the globe.
Goal: Aside from showcasing my travel adventures, I want to feature random people I meet on the road and share interesting stories about them.
Mission: You’ll hardly find me making conversations with strangers. I normally get anxious when I go on solo travelling. Although I’m chatty with friends, I’m very shy and gets tongue-tied when in the company of strangers. I guess I’m too anxious in finding the right words to say. Some may get the impression that I’m not friendly and others might think I don’t talk a lot. So to overcome this problem, I’ll try to be more social. I can’t promise anything but I’ll try
Meeting the Stranger in Boracay Island
I arrived late in the afternoon in this paradise island. Instead of looking for cheap hotels in Boracay, I looked for the cheapest accommodation and found the hostel White Beach Divers, thanks to Ela and Eileen. This cheap accommodation is located at Station 3, the less crowded area of Boracay. I decided to go for an early morning walk the following day to discover and explore the place. Even if it was low tide at that time and I was completely blown away by what I saw!
the blinding 4.5-mile long stretch of powdery white sand beach
I was basically staring at the most beautiful beach I’ve seen in my entire life. No joke. I know that my hometown, Cebu, has a lot of awesome white sand beaches but the amazing long stretch of powdery white sand beach of Boracay was something else. I’ve never seen anything like it. And it was still low tide. The beach wasn’t crowded yet, a perfect morning for my walk. I left my camera since I planned to take a dip somewhere along the way. I also aimed on walking up to the farthest end of Station 1.
The powdery white sands were soothing to my feet. I’ve never found this kind of serenity before where you can simply walk and walk for hours without minding anything at all. The view that kept unfolding in front of me as I continued my walk was breathtaking. I wanted to bang my head for being a fool on not visiting Boracay sooner. I instantly fell in love with the place! I can’t wait to tell you about its crystal clear water! Heaven! But that’s for another post
Then I saw her in between Station 1 and Station 2, I guess. She was wearing a shirt and pants that were rolled up to her knees. She was taking photos of the early morning scene in Boracay using this intimidating DSLR with super big and long lenses. The shy me continued my walk without saying a word.
walking barefoot in the white sand beach of Boracay
As I walked on, my feet found the rocky end of Station 1. There was this huge cliff that covers the other side. Then I saw this pathway leading to a hole big enough for people to get through. I got curious so I decided to go there. The other side was the rocky side of the northernmost part of the Boracay island. The back of that hole reveals a grotto with a statue of the Virgin Mary. The pathway leading to the other side is too narrow and one has to be careful to avoid slipping on the rocks beneath it. That area is where boatmen converge to get to their boats, which they use for tours and the like.There are also a few hotels in the area.
When I’ve seen enough, I decided to go back. And just as I stepped down from the rocky pathway leading back to the beach, I saw the photographer again. She has also reached the farthest end of Boracay Station 1. She was still busy taking photos of the wonderful morning scenery. Then without knowing why, I suddenly blurted out “Punta ka doon” pointing to the hole on the rocky edge. She asked if there’s anything to see on the other side and I said yes. I told her it would be great to go there and get to that elevated pathway to capture the long stretch of white sand beach of Boracay. She said she’s afraid to go there so I told her I’ll join her. I wanted her to see the other side too. With those huge lenses, I didn’t want her to miss out on the opportunity of capturing more interesting and beautiful subjects on that side of the island.
She asked why I was walking alone and without a camera. After telling her my reasons, she then offered to take a photo of me since it was such a waste to walk to that side of the island without any photo that will remind me of that place. char! I was so thrilled with her offer that I willingly obliged. With those giant lenses, I was confident she knew what she was doing so I just posed and smiled. hehehe
hole in the wall – Boracay, Philippines
And that’s how I met Claudette Tan. Turns out, she and her family were spending their holidays in Boracay. I learned that she’s a lifestyle photographer based in California and they went home to the Philippines to attend a wedding, I think. She mentioned that she mostly covers wedding photos and Quinceneara celebrations.
a photo that will forever remind me that angels indeed exist!
Before we parted ways, we exchanged our contact information to keep in touch. The next thing I knew, she tagged me in Facebook with my photos in it. I was surprised to see that she also took pictures of me when I was enjoying my walk on one of the best beaches in the world. They were all amazing. I can’t thank Claudette enough for capturing those wonderful memories. Too bad we didn’t have a photo together
While joining my newfound friend on exploring the other side of the northern part of the Boracay island, I couldn’t help think about the luck that struck me. Having walked for more than 3 miles with no camera with me, who would have known I’d end up meeting a world-class photographer? That joy of meeting a new friend was immeasurable that I didn’t notice it took me 3 hours to finish that morning walk.
Being friendly wasn’t that hard at all. I chose to become a snob, if you want to call it that way, when I first saw Claudette due to my shyness. But when I sensed that she won’t go farther on her little exploration, I knew I had to do something to encourage her to discover the other side of Boracay island. I wanted her to see what I saw. I never thought this tiny act would create a great impact on our lives, or mine at least.
I suddenly remembered my friend, whom we shall secretly call Odyssa, telling me how she envies me so much after seeing all my trips. I told her she should go out more often especially that she’s already based in Australia. Her reply was she doesn’t have anyone to go with her. I told her I went on a solo trip to Boracay and didn’t know anyone there. She answered back with “No one will take photos of me.” I replied with “I went on a solo trip to Boracay and I accidentally met someone who took awesome photos of me!” Odyssa, if you are reading this, stop making excuses. Stop living in your doubts and fears. You don’t realize what you’re missing. Go out and see the world!
This paradise island in the pacific has not only captured my heart big time. It has also given me a new friend and it has given me a positive outlook towards solo travelling!
Stranger on the Road: Claudette Tan, wedding and lifestyle photographer in CA, USA.
Meeting Place: Boracay Island, Philippines
Date: November 2011