Locals used to handle challenges – they have a unique ability to survive
BORACAY, The Philippines: “Hammock, sunblock and my guitar!” That´s the must-have items “Smiley” would bring when trapped on a deserted island. And suddenly, the global breakout of Coronavirus made this to happen. In reality, the music artist is caught on a paradise island surrounded by even more glory islands. Some small, other large, all with exceptional white-sand beaches and clear waters. The Philippines contains of more than 7,000 islands and plenty of possibilities to escape to your own one.
Now Boracay offers lockdown, quarantine life, curfew and empty beaches. “Yes, we live with restrictions but shops are open and we have what needed to survive. In addition, we can still watch the most incredible sunset”, Smiley says. Here and on the smaller island of Carabao, the Norwegian Geir Tosaunet has lived more than 15 years. Well, half the year off to native Norway to work as musician, artist, food-lover and art-painter.
About Balanga City: PEOPLE ALWAYS SMILE
For those believing in rankings made in the tourist industry; Boracay has been voted the world’s prettiest beach with the most amazing sunset. Certainly not without reason. But 90 percent Chinese tourists in this difficult Corona-virus time sounds a bit dreadful?
“Large parts of the hotel industry and restaurants are owned by the Chinese. Yes, most of the visitors to Boracay are Chinese and South Koreans. I have to say, find out where to go, places to visit and restaurants to eat. Here are probably 7-8 beaches and even the main beach has plenty of space. Mainly because Chinese and Koreans don´t go to the beach and sunbathe and don´t swim. They show up in the mornings and end of the day watch the sunset”, Smiley tells. That´s how the far-east tourists are unlike Europeans and Americans.
Endless of troubles
Locals at Boracay are used to handle challenges. In 2018, president Duterte ordered complete closure of the island to clean the polluted seaside and make up the infrastructure. The result; six months of no income for locals and the business. Likewise, the volcano outbreak near Manila stopped the flights for a while, and the typhoon on last Christmas Day was the worse for decades. It’s a paradox that the Coronavirus was “Made in China”, the country with the largest numbers of visitors to Boracay.
They will survive
Good to know that Filipinos generally are optimistic and happy people. When times get tough they have a unique ability to survive. More than often with a little help from families at home or abroad. Others get help from the government, local donations and fishing and agriculture. The tourism gives people work and they wonder when tourists and income will return.
Stranger in Paradise
«It feels like I’m stranded in a desert of great white beaches, forever sunshine, clean water, hotels and bars closed. But few people around, no tourists and a total lockdown. No alcohol served, no boat- or communication with other areas, no transportation and a 5-day journey to get to capital Manila. Sure it´s strange, because this island is paradise”.
With plenty of guitars, piano, drums and studio equipment, Smiley could set up a band in a few hours. Furthermore, “Smiley” had art exhibitions in eight countries and is a chef with own signature dishes and profile. Food for future is his new brand based on fruit, herbs, vegetables and local sustainable products.
Most of all “Smiley” is a musician, performing with a deep voice similar to one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Next project is a tour of Norway as a tribute to Johnny Cash and June Carter, whenever that will happen.
Boracay or Palawan
For experienced travellers and those who like places off the beaten track, the paradise island of Palawan has far more to offer. Boracay is probably for those who like charter tourism, Palawan for couples and back-packers. As Boracay is just 6km long, Palawan stretch 500km from one end to the other.
“Palawan has more space to offer. But speaking about stranded in the wilderness of endless of Filipinos islands, Boracay is not the worse place to be”
Says the entertainer and full-time musician. “Smiley” perfectly enjoy both islands – as long he can hang on with at least one of his guitars.
More to read: LIFE IS HOW TO SURVIVE
Make it Happen!
Touch Down: From Manila 45-minute flight to either Caticlan (the closer airport) or Kalibo (a more distant airport 60km away. Take a vehicle to Caticlan Jetty Port, and then a 10-minute boat-trip.
Stay: According to the policy, you can't enter Boracay without any proof of booking in an resort or hotel in Boracay. Airbnb is banned in Boracay. Don´t worry, you can chose from 700 hotels, all in walking distance from the beach.
Eat: Filipinos enjoy food and they like repeating names, You might get a waiter named Jun-Jun to serve kare-kare. The dish is a stew made from beef and veg eaten with rice. Meal in a cheap restaurant; 185 pesos. Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught): 80 pesos. Water (0.33 liter bottle): 28 pesos. 1USD: 50 pesos. 1Euro: 53. 1GBP: 60.
Play: After sunsets, live music breaks out. Drop into The Nigi Nigi beachfront bar and listen to the band in the sand. Sandbar Beach Club is a place to chill while watching the beautiful sunset.
Mini Guide: The best time to visit Boracay is during the dry season, which starts in November and runs through April. White Beach is centre of the action, a stretch of sand with hotels, restaurants, bars and shops. The beach path is awash with visitors, including large groups of package tourists. The ocean is full of outrigger sailboat giving rides. Time Zone: GMT +8. Visa only required if staying more than 30 days. Money: Pesos. Average temp: 24 – 32C