Why all the chatter and private school “outrage” over Boracay all of a sudden? What is happening to the land of the annual chi-chi “#LABoracay” and all other hipster happenings that greet Imperial Manila denizens fleeing their parents’ Holy Week obligations have always been happening in the Philippines. It’s all part of Filipinos’ world-renowned Reverse Midas Touch — their ability to turn nuggets of gold into piles of turd.
Indeed, the country’s capital in Imperial Manila has long served as the rest of the country’s role model as far as Filipinos’ renowned tradition of trashing their own backyards. In Manila, sewage pipes empty right into storm drains and floodwater channels, trash is routinely dumped into empty lots, latrines in Manila’s slums are mere platforms for people to squat on and take a dump right into rivers, lakes, and esteros, and mounds of garbage are incinerated on many street corners.
Filipinos are renowned for pissing against walls right on public streets and sidewalks. Jeepneys belch lead-rich black smoke into Manila’s already-corrosive atmosphere. Squatters that line Manila’s railways toss household refuse onto passing trains. In a typical Jollibee or McDonald’s, Filipino clans who come by the jeepney load gobble up their burgers and Cokes then leave all their disposables right on the dining surfaces they occupied. People spitting on sidewalks are a common sight.
Manila is not just a visual assault, it is also an auditory affront. Vehicle horns don’t honk, they blare and are preferred as a singalling protocol amongst motorists on Manila’s roads than turning indicators. City life in Manila does not hum, it pounds into its people’s heads thanks to jeepneys that ply their routes mufflerless together with fleets of two-stroke-engined tricycles that serve the city’s steaming eskinitas. Every night there is a karaoke night going on somewhere in the metropolis that go on ’til the wee hours. And just as you are drifting into some shuteye at four in the morning when they finally stop, the concerto of crowing coming from backyard-raised fighting cocks fill the scant remainder of the night.
Boracay has been called a “cesspool” and Filipinos are suddenly up in arms. But Manila has long been a literal cesspool and Filipinos had responded with a mere collective shrug for decades.
I’m reminded of the 1981 film Escape from New York. Back then, New York City was so bad that a movie premised on a future where Manhattan is simply walled up and turned into a penal island was actually a bankable plot. Perhaps, then, shutting down Boracay may not be such a bad idea. Its original inhabitants, after all, lived off its natural bounty. The rest of those who live there cannot survive without a modern goods and services supply line from the Philippines’ mainlands. Thus it is quite ironic that tourists go there to experience the “island lifestyle”. In that sense, they do not really know what they are talking about.
Indeed, tourists visiting Boracay to party don’t really expect to experience Boracay. They go there to infest it with Manila’s imperial rot. And that is what happened to Boracay. People who trashed their own backyards have lost any ascendancy to launch outrage fads about an island paradise fallen from grace.
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