Boracay – its etymology comes from the local word “Borac” which means white cotton. Just like the feel of its sand, soft as cotton, and the color that personifies Boracay – white: unsoiled and pure.
Boracay is regarded as paradise on earth. So the word, is actually very apt. However, with every paradise, there will be a Lucifer. An antagonist that goes against the rules of God that leads him packing and creating the opposite of heaven, hell. It is the nature of the universe; opposites do exist.
Yin and yang subsists to create some balance. Just like in a paradise such as Boracay, it is inescapable that some go through the unbeaten and malicious path. Instead of reveling in its purity and beauty, there are events that have turned Boracay’s reputable nature into a threatening one.
Boracay today is not just an oasis. It is also likened to a city in itself. With innumerable hotels, businesses, restaurants and important events held all year round. We can consider Boracay to be a city with a picturesque beach. The island is active 24/7. Some youths even call it “Las Vegas of the Philippines”, and we all can imagine what goes on in the city of Las Vegas where fun, vagary, interesting happenings and even more interesting people transpire. It is unavoidable that in these circumstances, there will emerge some crooked individuals who will take advantage of the weak, thus petty crimes such as mauling, pickpocketing and theft grow rampant in the island.
“Crimes against Foreign Tourists in Boracay Alarming”
Boy Zabal, a writer in the Aklan Forum wrote about some grueling crimes that occurred in the island in his article “Crimes against Foreign Tourists in Boracay Alarming”. Two “lady boys” victimized a Russian national named Kirill Bukhartecev a couple months back. The two suspects stole Kirill’s iphone 5 and 2500 pesos cash. This happened after the victim refused to go with the two back to their boarding house after a night out at a club. They forcibly took his belongings. The two were later charged with robbery and coercion. Another ill-fated incident happened to a Swedish national named Lena. She was offered a motorcycle ride back to her hotel at 1:30 am. Being very trusting, since the locals can appear amicable, she obliged. She was dumbfounded when the suspect, Jessie Lozada, took her to an isolated hilly area and raped her. Lozada was soon charged with rape before the Aklan Prosecutor’s Office. Two Swedish nationals Rolengemar Sundell and Amalia Wela were victims also of theft while they were sleeping in their hotel room in Station 3 in Barangay Manoc-Manoc. The intruders fled and stole their laptop, cellphone and cash amounting to 63,000 pesos. The suspects have not been found.
The island is not spared its share of the most gruesome crimes as well. The most tragic deaths reported are the death of John Cowperthwaite, art dealer Manfred Schoeni, German developer Anton Forstenhausler and their helper Irma Sarmiento in 2004; they bore multiple stab wounds, and were found dead on their beds in Forstenhauer’s villa on the island. The suspect has not been recognized. On 2007, A Brit was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering his wife. The most controversial and recent one is the murder of Dexter Condez.
The Ati Tribe
Dexter was the representative of the Ati Tribe, the first aboriginals of the Philippines and the island. The Ati tribe has been experiencing a lot of discrimination and oppression by the growing mainstream commercialism of the island. They are forced to flee from their own land, and have been denied of their identity and place from their own home. Although they have already been awarded the 2.1-hectare property they inhabit by the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), other claimants have been fighting for the land as well. The security guard of Crown Regency Hotel, Daniel Celestino, shot Dexter, on his way home from school on February 2013. This angered the Ati community and raised awareness to the government to help the Ati tribe.
Despite all the tragic events that happened, there is a sliver of light in the dark cloud. The Boracay Tourist Assistance Center (BTAC), which is headed by Officer-in-charge, Fidel Gentallan, have been successful in preventing crime in the island. In 2013 they garnered a lot of achievements. One most important accomplishment by BTAC was the capture of 21 wanted persons, including Caticlan’s Top 9 most wanted named Marcel Duschletta, a Swedish national; Kim Jin Soo, wanted for embezzling 125 million pesos; and Park Hee Soon, wanted for illegal gambling and was facing deportation. BTAC also conducted drug raids, which resulted in the arrest of 26 persons in its 22 operations. All suspects received non-bailable cases filed in the Higher Court. BTAC also achieved other accomplishments in 2013 – the promotion of four of its personnel; the winning of its Boracay Action Group (BAG) as the Best Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team in Region VI; and other recognitions from its involvement in environmental, community, and school projects.
Crimes can be sometimes controlled if travellers are more aware and informed. It’s always advisable to keep one’s belongings at sight. Simple things such as locking the door and closing one’s purse can avert a thief to take action. Since Boracay is a party island, a lot people will definitely be inebriated during the nighttime. It is always safe to travel among friends and a big group. Women, especially, shouldn’t walk alone at night and be too trusting of strangers. Crimes happen everywhere, no place in the world will be spared, even such a beautiful paradise such as Boracay. But despite its numerous crimes, it still thrives in being a one-of-a-kind getaway, and it is more often than not that justice will always prevail. The good always conquers the bad.