Never in the past 10 years have I thought of going back to Boracay. Most of its original charm—the solitude, the pristine waters, and the slosh of the waves at night that rocked your mind off to dreamland in no time at all—seemed no longer there for me. The huge motley crowds and less than immaculate surroundings had robbed the place of its desirability for me to spend my Christmas and New Year there after eight consecutive years of doing so.
Fresh from Amanpulo, our group of 10 consisted of Carol Garcia, Rhoda Aldanese, Lingling Uruttia King, Shamila Hiranand, Agnes Huibonhua, Anton San Diego, Tim Tap, Javi Martinez, my daughter Gabbi and myself.
Despite voluminous paperwork to fill out and checking in with your QR code at least four times, finally hitting the beach felt every bit like an exciting reunion with the Boracay I have long held in my heart. There was the familiar coastline, immaculate and picture-perfect once more. Hues of orange and purple wrapped around the same sunset that earned for Boracay a timeless place on the hallowed list of best beach resorts the world over.
The next five days were spent being carefree, mindless, and thoroughly self-indulgent. While Gabbi kite-boarded daily and caught the gusty winds at Bolabog Beach and Station One, the rest of us spent our time mostly at Station Zero, basking in the sun and willing our skin to acquire a glowing tan after losing so much color through many months of indoor life courtesy of the pandemic. Daily intakes of vitamin D were among our daily rituals.
On Halloween, we strolled along an empty D’Mall and had dinner at Tim Yap’s Tides Hotel, all the way relishing the wonderful solitude of the island.
Other than that special night, we spent our holiday filling up on the delicious fare and superb hospitality at our home base, the Shangrila Resort and Spa. When we were not enjoying the gustatory pleasures, we played mahjong, belted out songs in the hotel’s after-dinner karaoke, and on our farewell evening laughed endlessly while playing hilarious charades made extra unforgettable by the combined antics of the inimitables Anton, Tim and Javi.
Amid the humdrum, uncertain and sorrow-filled days of the pandemic, having spent wonderful and memorable days doing happy and hilarious things with a bunch of normally respectable people who surrendered themselves to bouts of unimaginable inanities, I had one of my best times ever in a place that will always top my list of perfect places for all seasons.