Of sunsets and frisbees

Sunset at Boracay is the most fascinating time to be out on the beach. Tourist come out in droves to take snapshots of the sun as it slowly descends into the horizon and changes the colors of the sky from baby blue to fiery red, and all hues in between. I see a couple of semi-pros with their DSLR on a tripod trying hard to capture the moment, tweeking exposure levels to compensate for the dying light. Such is the allure and mystique of Boracay sunsets.

On my far left, a game of ultimate frisbee is in high gear. A girl in a red brazilian bikini poises for a throw and a quick dive for a catch makes me do a double take. Where else in the world can you find bronzed bodied goddess in perfectly in contrast to the powder white beach?

Frisbee has quickly risen into the favored beach game this summer in Boracay. Owing to the popularity of this sports is the Annual Boracay Ultimate Frisbee Challenge, where teams from all across the country vie for the top prize.

Aside from the frisbee playing ladies, the game is quite interesting as soon you you figure out what the hell its all about. In a nutshell, The object of the game is to score points by passing the disc to a player in the opposing end zone, similar to an end zone in American football or rugby. Players are not allowed by the rules to run with the disc, and may only move one foot or pivot, while holding the disc. Pretty easy eh? Just don’t forget you’re watching the game and not the girls!

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Week 3: Kiteboarding in Boracay

As the weather starts to improve and the days get longer and I have finally settled down into a routine at work. I have started to think about taking up a new activity when I came across a friend of mine, Nenette Aguirre-Graf at one of the Boracay Foundation Inc (BFI) meetings.

Ate Nenette is a long time resident of Boracay who invested in the hotel industry a long time ago and has made it big. She now owns Boracay Beach Resort down in Station 1 and Greenyard Funboard Center in Bulabog Beach. Ate Nenette is one of the nicest people around. She has been a staunch advocate of the environment and the voice of conservation of Boracay’s pristine ecology. I personally feel she would have been the best BFI  President.

Kite Boarding at Bulabog Beach has become famous of recent years with the annual Neil Pryde Boracay International Fun Board Cup held here. Hundred of windsurfers and kiteboarders from all over the world congregate every January to take part in this iconic event.

As in my previous posts, you may know that one of my motivations in coming to Boracay was to live the bohemian life, work on weekdays, windsurf and scuba dive on weekends. Taking up kiteboarding has been a natural progression for someone like me who loves to get soaked in the turquoise water of Boracay.

Nenette is one of the people who said I should give kiteboarding a go. Well I’m glad that I did. The first thing I would suggest is get yourself onto a kite surfing lesson, there are loads of kite shops all over Bulabog Beach so you should be able to find one.

Kite surfing has become one of the most popular water sports in Boracay, and it’s no wonder why: combining kiting and surfing together at heights of 20 feet or more is an intense extreme sport experience!

After a couple of lessons you will have the confidence to go out and try it yourself, just remember never kite surf alone, always take a companion as it is an extreme sport. You will also need the correct kitesurfing equipment and safety gear, again there are lots of local shops you can checkout all the latest’s equipment and even take some of it for a test ride since most of the kite shops are located in Bulabog beach.

If you never tried to kite surf before, there are some basic kite surfing techniques you should work on before working your way up to the trickier ones. This will ensure your safety and the safety of others around you while you’re getting your kite surfing water wings. Kite surfing is easiest if you’ve had some experience with water sports to begin with, but that’s not absolutely essential to learning basic kite surfing techniques – it just means you have some learning to do before mastering the harder skills.

First, you need to get a training kite to help you learn the basics of kite surfing – maneuvering and controlling your kite. Most training kites can be rented out at the kite shops in Bulabog beach and should help you learn a lot of the basic kite surfing techniques that you will need to know for later. Work on gaining control of the kite, then practice letting it drag you along for a little ways. I had a lot of ass dragging on my part before I learned anything.

Next, you’ll need to practice with the board in the water. You can try some other water sport with a board first, if you’d like, something like wakeboarding or windsurfing. You can also get lessons in basic kite surfing techniques from an instructor at Greenyard, if this is your first time ever in the water on a board. I personally believe JR of Greenyard is the best instructor around, not because he is my friend but because he does make sure that you learn something from him.

Well, see you then in Bulabog Beach!

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Week 2: R E L A X E D

I love where I live. I don’t know if its because of the beautiful, sandy beach, the cool, adventurous water sport activities or just sitting and watching the sunset fade into the water.

Where I live, people consider it a place to go to when the holidays are on. They think of it as paradise, that’s the tourists story. But living here – it’s a completely freakin different story. Life in Boracay is not all fun and sun. Prior to my arrival a week ago, I have been to the island a countless number of times, but all my visit were on vacation mode – get some sun, swim, scuba dive, and party at night. Since I arrived, I havent gotten to doing any of those. Settling down at work has been…busy!

At the crack of dawn I take a walk to the bathroom and start my day with a cold splash of water. Then I get dressed, head to the hotel and fire-up my trusty macbook and start work. Such is the life of a sales and marketing manager working in one of the better hotels in the island. Life is not all fun and games in the land of white sand and honey. But life here is not all in vain. For after the work is done and the business analytics completed, I get to walk in a powdery white beach, grab a sunset cocktail and remind myself that – this is what I came here for, this is why I left Manila, quit my job, locked my apartment, had my car adopted by my fave aunt and go to this island in the middle of the visayan sea. Then i pinch myself to remind me that – I do in fact live here now. No longer do I have to get in a rush and do all the things that I want to do here in Boracay in a single day, lest I fail to do it all and worry that my return flight to Manila is just a moment away. Now I can finally take it easy, sip my overpriced coco mojito unhurriedly. But why am I not relaxed?

I know what I need. I need to find a nicer place to live, with bathroom ensuite, with not a worry…then i can finally say…IM RELAXED!

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Week 1: Arriving in Paradise

As the early morning Cebu Pacific flight touches down the runway at Caticlan, the skies with nary a sign of the sun making its appearance for the day. I head down to the terminal to collect my luggage and start a new life in this paradise of an island.

All the preparations for the move to Boracay having been done weeks ahead. I find myself a bit apprehensive but a lot more excited of what my life here would bring. As I exit the airport and head for the ferry terminal to take me to the island I ask myself…should I pay for the environmental and terminal fees? As the youngest resident of Malay, Aklan I feel entitled to the privilege of being exempt from paying the said fees. Ah yes, I do need a valid ID to prove to the tourism authorities I do indeed live here.

Reaching the island of Boracay is a sweet reunion that neither the rain could dampen the elation of being in this island paradise. Having been here a countless number of times, coming back always feels like coming home. And here I am, coming home at last. Having been met by the hotel driver, I was quickly whisked off to my temporary home in Boracay Hills.


Boracay Hills Hotel is an upscale resort in the hills of Boracay Island away from the maddening crowd at the famous white beach. One feels serenity and calm, rare in this part of the island where the noisy chatter of korean and chinese tourist incessantly annoy the bejesus out of me. A short walk to my modest room at the back of the hotel where I met my new neighbors Brian and Brigette, a cool european couple whose family owns Boracay Hills Hotel, Gill and Tony who rent the apartment in front of my room, and Whiskey, the hotel labrador, who easily reminds me of Luna, my favorite dog in the whole wide world.

I have yet to see my new bosses Helen and Cris for they are still on vacation in China and I have nothing to do for now except to settle down and start – at best – my new job at Go Discover Travel, based on my perceived and assumed responsibilities. I sincerely believe that given time to grow into the island culture, this could be a life worth living. Here, I no longer have to endure the long queues, the heavy traffic and the stiffing humidity of Manila. Life here is relaxed, where time seems to stop and wait for everyone to fall in line.

And thought I miss my family, my dad, my sisters Joanne and Janice, my comfy apartment, my soft bed, and my zoom zoom car….but hey!….I get to live, work and play in paradise!

 

 

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Week 0: Moving to Boracay

Many people have the dream of relocating to a tropical island at one time or another. Sipping mojitos on the sand in the hot summer sun; scuba diving at the break of dawn to discover the grand vistas of the ocean floor; enjoying the raw power and beauty of nature; it’s the vision of paradise. So, why don’t most people follow through with the dream? It’s not easy, that’s why. Assuming you get past the inherent fear of leaving your familiar, comfortable life behind and moving to a foreign world, there are still the financial issues, family and friends, relationships, and career concerns, especially for the people of our generation. This is the time we’re working our hardest to secure a strong career and forge long-term relationships. And to top it off, we usually don’t have a large supply of cash readily available. Still, we dream.

 

Boracay Island

If you’re still interested in making the dream a reality, I’m here to say it’s possible. However, you have to be willing to make sacrifices.

I purchased a one-way ticket to the island of Boracay 6 months in advance of my departure date. My plan was to prepare as much as possible in the meantime, but to leave regardless of my situation. Though I hadn’t yet secured either job or a place to live in Boracay, I knew if I didn’t purchase the tickets and set a definite date, there was the possibility that I would procrastinate until it was too late. The flight is scheduled to bring me to my new home on March 15, 2011

My biggest goal was to find a room to rent long term in the island. In addition to asking friends living on the island, I was constantly placing queries and post on tripadvisor boards. At the time, I was working for a company where the corporate direction and practices were of easy virtue. Also, I was practicing law in the metropolis, so most of my clients, friends and my family were in the city. I was going to be leaving everything familiar to me.

I did my best to cut down to only the bare essentials. and I avoided purchasing anything too large to take easily to Boracay. Most people either considered me crazy or were convinced I was going through a “phase” and wouldn’t follow through with my plans. My father and my two sisters were the most supportive people and encouraged me to go on with my plans.

The time is drawing near with just a week before I leave the comfort of my small rented condo in the metropolis and move to Boracay. I left my job last month, and shortly thereafter applied for a job in Boracay. I was hired to work in the island starting March 15, 2011. My material possessions had been narrowed down to only the bare essentials all packed in a suitcase weighing 10 kilos, the maximum allowable baggage for the flight.

So, if you’re still dreaming, what are you waiting for? It’ll be worth any risks involved. Life is supposed to be an adventure, not a tedious task. Do whatever it takes to reach your version of paradise. If you set out with a sincere heart, the doors will open for you, and you may find it’s the path you were supposed to be on all along.

 

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