BORACAY -- After being closed for a 6-month rehabilitation, vacationers again came in droves to enjoy the bright sun and powdery white sand on world-famous Boracay island.
Instead of being treated to Ibiza-style beach parties for the Labor Day week, however, they were met with activities designed to promote green living and sustainable tourism -- "Love Boracay" instead of "LaBoracay."
These included a music night, a food fair, lectures on environment-friendly architecture and proper disposal of cooking oil, and a beach cleanup.
"We want tourists to know that Boracay is not the same place that they visited before, where they can do anything they want and party all night and anywhere," Alfredo Orolfo, deputy ground commander of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' (DENR) Task Force Boracay, told media Saturday night.
However, he said that he wants tourists to be comfortable and feel welcome on Boracay. He encouraged them to explore the island, because it has more attractions than white sand such as its diverse wildlife.
"Talk with the locals also. Tourism is experiential...[and] bring things to help the island, such as technology or advocacies," he said.
He mentioned celebrities such as Antoinette Taus who works with the DENR to encourage the public to adopt green practices.
"Celebrities, everyone is welcome to partner with us," he said.
Tourists arrive at Boracay's Cagban Port.Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News
Visitors stroll past a 'Boracay' sign and tarpaulins bearing do's and don'ts.Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News
Beach regulations and garbage cans are spread along the length of Boracay's main beach.Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News
Visitors are free to relax under trees in Boracay.Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News
Beachgoers take selfies beside an under-construction cemented lifeguard's station in Boracay's Station 1.Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News
Tourists pose for photos in Boracay.Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News
Tour guides stand on a metal cover which shields water pipes laid by a water company.Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News
A tarpaulin bearing reminders for tourists is stretched out on a piece of plywood in Boracay.Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News
An electric trike and small tour buses ply their route along Boracay island's main road.Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News
Construction of Boracay's main road continues.Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News
An establishment in Boracay bears signs in a foreign language.Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News
Local officials clean up litter which midnight picnickers left on the beach.Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News
Dive instructors work beside a sign bearing reminders for tourists.Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News
A dog dries itself on the shore. Pets are not allowed on the beach.Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News
Boracay's white sand.Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News
A woman sits on a log in front of an establishment which was demolished for not following Boracay building regulations.Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News
Children play in front of an establishment which was demolished for not following Boracay building regulations.Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News
A man sells coconuts in front of a demolished building in Boracay.Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News
A bulldozer lies idle beside demolished buildings in Boracay.Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News
Tourists pose in front of Willy's Rock in Boracay.Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News
According to locals, the "Love Boracay" celebrations are favorable for them, because aside from helping to preserve the condition of the island, they are given more chances to compete with establishments dotting the beach.
"Nakakagalaw nang maluwag ang mga turista tapos nakakausap namin nang maayos, 'di katulad dati na kapag umupo sa beach tapos establishment nila (businesses), 'di na namin nakakausap kasi private na," said roving tourist guide Mark de Leon.
(Tourists are able to move around more freely and we can talk to them, unlike before, we could not talk to them once they went into an area claimed by an establishment.)
Representatives from the local government, Department of Tourism, Department of the Interior and Local Government, "Love Boracay" sponsor Smart Communications Inc. and celebrities clean the beach in Boracay. Handout
Watch more in iWant
Mario Cayetano, chief barangay tanod (village police) of Balabag, meanwhile, said he appreciates efforts to make events in Boracay more orderly.
"Ang mga events sa loob na, nao-organize na nang maayos. Iyong 'LaBoracay' dati, pagkatapos ng okasyon na iyon, ang basura ang nagiging problema...Tapos kung malasing ang bisita, tatakbo sa beach tapos doon na nagwi-wiwi," he said.
(Events are now indoors and more organized. With 'LaBoracay' before, we had problems with garbage...and when visitors got drunk, they urinated on the beach.)
According to event organizers, they are still thinking whether to make "Love Boracay" an annual event, because it has gotten mixed reviews from business owners and visitors.
"It will depend on feedback from everyone," Orolfo said.