> Angel > Family trip to Boracay

Boracay Beckons
By Angelica Bautista Viloria
April 25, 2001
Text Copyright © 2001 by Angelica Bautista Viloria.
Photos Copyright © 2001 by Angel, Adi and Manuel Viloria.

The first time we went to Boracay was in 1995. This was for our honeymoon and we stayed for four days at Lorenzo South Resort. It took us six years to return to the fine white sand and blue waters of Boracay. With our four-year old son, Adi, now in tow, we took to the beach for five days in April and what follows is our travel diary which aims to give readers a peek into what can be expected of a Boracay trip.

DAY 1, April 3, 2001, Tuesday

We took the 9:30am PAL flight to Kalibo. NAIA Terminal 2 was a pleasant surprise, as the last time we travelled domestically was in 1999. Gone was the cramped, dirty domestic airport. Now, there was a big, modern-looking structure, spacious and clean. Even the bathrooms were clean so we were happy.

The plane though was late. It took off at 10am, thirty minutes behind schedule. The trip to Kalibo took 40 minutes and it was made more interesting by Adi who searched for Chuckie's mom (you have to watch Rugrats in Paris to understand why) while looking at the clouds and who would say "Hold on tight" during take-off or "Here we go" when landing.

We boarded the bus which would take us to Caticlan (the place where you get on the boat which brings you to your Boracay resort) at 10:45am. The bus, however, left the station at 11:15am, which was well and good, giving us enough time to go to the bathroom. Something should be done though about the bathrooms at the Kalibo airport considering that Boracay is a prime tourist destination. The bathrooms were not as bad as we expected though they were not that clean either.

The bus ride takes 1 hour and a half. It's a pretty long trip but it afforded us time to point out rice paddies, cows, carabaos, pigs, chickens, and goats to Adi who just loves animals. We were in Caticlan by 12:45pm and our boat was off by 1pm. Everyone we dealt with, from the dispatcher, to the boatmen were very helpful, pleasant, and genuinely nice.

The boat ride takes another 45 minutes. The motorized banca we used this time was smaller and more crowded than before. The one we used six years ago was wider and open, so you could at least enjoy the ride.

Angelica Bautista Viloria is a Filipina mom, living in the Philippines, who works in a credit rating company, and occasionally posts articles in her family homepage at

Above photo taken by Adi Viloria

This year, we stayed at Pearl of the Pacific, which was near Boat Station 1. Lorenzo South, on the other hand, is nearer Boat Station 3. There seems to be better resorts clustered near Boat Station 1 although both resorts are quite far from the numerous eateries located towards the middle part of the beach.

Upon arriving at Pearl of Pacific, we had lunch first since our room was not yet ready. We ate at the coffee shop, which has a nice view of the beach. It was relaxing to just stare at the water and the sand while waiting for our food.

Per head, expect to spend about P300 (about USD 6) for soup, one main dish, and a drink. Food items are priced from P100 to P300 per order. For lunch, we tried the Tom Yum Soup which was very spicy and which had two pieces of shrimp. The carrot-pumpkin soup was thick and creamy although one could taste more of the carrot than the pumpkin. We also ordered the Grilled Chicken which was tender, tasty, with a sweetish barbecue taste. The Spaghetti Marinara had slightly tougher than al dente noodles, with lots of small shrimps. The food was okay but the fruit shakes, which cost P100 per glass, are not worth it, in terms of taste and quantity.

After lunch, our room was already ready. We stayed at a hillside cottage (as opposed to a beachfront cottage which will cost you a few thousand pesos more) which will require you to take a 5-minute walk from the beach and up stairs and paths. Our cottage at Pearl looked more modern than that at Lorenzo South, as I remember. When we arrived though, we found 3 busted light bulbs, a sliding door which did not work, cabinet drawers which had no handles and which were thus hard to open and close, and a bathroom door which we could not close properly either. We complained about our lights and the bathroom door and waited for the staff to put things in order. Our room at Lorenzo appeared less modern, but everything worked as we can remember.

We took a PALakbayan package, by the way, which afforded significant savings compared to the regular package which Pearl of the Pacific offers. We wouldn't know about the quality of the rooms for the regular packages but we talked to another family who also availed of a PALakbayan package and they were also complaining about certain things in their room. Maybe PAL can check this out?

Here's the front sign of the Pearl of the Pacific Resort, about 30 paces from the shoreline. Or about 15 paces if the sand is hot.

Just kidding... the ultra-fine sand does not get unbearably hot.

We went out at about 4pm to finally go to the beach. Armed with our sunblock, we designated 8-11am and 4-6:30pm daily as our swimming time as we wanted the Boracay beach experience, without the skin cancer. On our first day, we watched and took pictures of the sunset. Adi had fun playing with the water and the fine sand, calling himself the Sand Monster and throwing the sand to make "sand fireworks." There was algae in the water, all over, however, something which we did not remember six years ago. Not enough though to take the joy out of swimming.

One thing which we disliked about the beach this time though was the number of vendors who continuously offered all sorts of products and services. In all of two hours, we got 5 offers for boating trips, 1 for jet-skiing, 3 for souvenirs/boats for playing or displaying. It was just too intrusive. We remembered getting that feeling the last time but only at Puka Beach. Lorenzo South, then, seemed more isolated and private, although we can't say if the same is still true now.

For dinner, we moved to next-door resort, Waling-Waling. The resort is very attractive, particularly at night, when the huts located up-front, have bright, blue cloth lanterns hanging. We ordered the grilled food which comes with soup (crab and corn, that night) and cole slaw salad. The chicken (inasal) was much better than the pork (liempo). My husband says the chicken tasted like barbecue he used to eat when he was a kid and that he could eat it every day. How's that for an endorsement?

Our dinner was priced more reasonably than lunch (less than P250 per head). Adi and I particularly enjoyed the mango crepe with vanilla ice cream (P110 or USD 2). It tasted so good. The crepe was thin and soft, the mango, sweet, and the sauce had the right consistency and blend of sweetish-sour taste. How good was it? We ordered it about 3-4 times during our entire stay, that's how.

We wanted to find out about the activities that we could do at Boracay early on. There was no listing though that we could get hold of, at Pearl of the Pacific, which would show the pricing or inclusions for each service. They had a list posted near the reception desk but we had to go through each activity, asking a coordinator to describe what's included and what the pricing was like. The coordinator, Buddy, was very helpful and patient, but we think having brochures which they can give out to individual guests would be more efficient and economical.

Weary boatman at the close of day...

Adi, the Sandmonster

(I wouldn't stand in front of him if I were you...)

DAY 2, April 4, 2001, Wednesday

This was the day we primarily came to Boracay for. Our family had a cook, Virginia, who stayed with us for more than forty years (yes, you read that right). She retired in May last year and she stays with relatives in Batuan, Ibajay, Aklan. We told her we'd visit her some time and this was the main reason why we came back to Boracay and why we will keep coming back, every other year, at the least.

Batuan, Ibajay, Aklan is about 45 minutes to 1 hour from Caticlan. We had a heavy breakfast then at Pearl of the Pacific, after which we took a tricycle ride to Boat Station 1. The ride costs P5 per person. From Station 1 to Caticlan, the boat ride cost us P17.50 per person.

We had arranged for a van and a driver to wait for us at Caticlan that morning. At past 10, we boarded the van, ready to search for Virginia's house. We had to ask about 4 people along the way where Batuan was. Upon reaching the place, we asked were the Sallador residence was and we were told that it was about 4 houses down the road. Such is life in the province, everyone knows everyone. Even the person who lives down the road.

We finally found the house. We saw Virginia (whom all the kids in our family fondly call Ate Biba) and she was happily surprised, to say the least. She didn't know when to expect us, remember? We stayed for about two hours, chatting and finding out how she was. Adi also made new friends with the kids there. We also saw two of our former household help, Angela and Marialyn, who are happily settled now, with families of their own.

We had asked for directions near Angela's place and when they saw the van, they thought we were political candidates going on the campaign trail. The elections will be held on May 14, 2001, and politicians visit even the remotest areas in a bid to get more votes.

In the Philippines, even if you drop by unannounced, most likely, you will be offered something to eat and drink by your host. We then were treated to Coke and even lunch of rice, steamed shrimp, noodle soup with beef and veggies, and ripe mangoes for dessert. That's Filipino hospitality for you.

It was a good visit and one which made the whole trip worthwhile. Seeing Virginia again and knowing that we can visit regularly, all the more adds to Boracay's appeal as a vacation place.

When we got back to our resort, we found that our bathroom door (the one which didn't work as I described on Day 1) was gone. We told the hotel staff about this and their suggested remedy was to put mats on the floor to keep it from getting too wet. It was too inconvenient to transfer to another room (in the first place, we don't think there was a free one available as people were starting to pour in) so we learned to live and cope with the situation. It was a bit irritating the first two days but after while, you learn to relax and just write about it.

For dinner, we went to nearby Sea Wind. They also have a selection of grilled food to choose from. We ordered the Grilled Prawns (4 pieces) although one could also go for the pork chop, pork barbecue, chicken, squid (2 pieces), mussels, or oysters.

They also had the pasta bar where you can choose 1 of 3 types of pasta, choose from tomato or white sauce, and pick 3 toppings from the following: chicken, squid, shrimp, oyster, and mussels. All these for more than P200.

Both grilled food and the pasta bar selection came with soup (mushroom that night but which was quite watery and which hardly had any taste) and salad (choice of thousand island, tartar, or french dressing).

The choco banana shake at P65 per order was pretty good and offered better value than Pearl of the Pacific's fruit shakes.

Adi checking out the bed at Pearl of the Pacific. The bathroom is to the left, behind the sliding door that doesn't close. Be sure to shut off the aircon before taking a bath.

Rattan chairs lined up in front of Sea Wind.

DAY 3, April 5, 2001, Thursday

What might one do in Boracay, aside from eat, enjoy the beach, and be merry? There are several activities one might choose from. Kids and adults can go Horseback Riding, for example, at the stables near Tirol Chalet. This will cost about P500-600 (about USD10) per hour, and already includes a guide who will lead you through a scenic trail, as they say. The stables are open from 6am to 6pm. We decided against going though and just chose to enjoy the swimming pool at Pearl of the Pacific. Not all resorts in Boracay have a pool, by the way, so if this is a requirement for you and your kids, you better check your prospective resort's facilities out even before you book.

Most of the other activities in Boracay, expectedly, are water-based. One can go boating for 3 hours, and this will cost about P700. Most boatmen will probably take you to Puka Beach (where you see lots of shells on the shore and where vendors flock to you like crazy) and to Crystal Cove (or was it Cave?) where you can stare into the waters from a higher vantage point and see weird structures (like a chair with a hand for a back rest). Nothing that memorable there though. We went to those two places in 1995 and this year, we decided to give boating a break. The men, this time, were proposing to bring us to Coral Garden, Crocodile Island, and other places where we could snorkel (rental of equipment would be about P300) or go fish-feeding.

One can also go on the banana boat (costing P150 per person for 15 minutes, for a minimum of 4 people) or go jet-skiing. Another activity one can indulge in would be to get a beach or room massage. One can contract the beach ladies with their green vests or go for in-house therapists which some of the resorts (like Pearl of the Pacific) would have. A massage on the beach from the older ladies would cost about P200-300 per hour while a room massage from the in-house therapists would cost about P400 for one hour. We chose to get a massage from the Pearl of the Pacific therapists at about lunchtime, particularly since the sun was too hot for anyone to go swimming anyway. The massages were quite relaxing as opposed to the massage we got before in 1995 from one of the beach ladies near Lorenzo South. Our bodies felt bruised and beaten then even as she explained that this was "Therapy. Therapy." We should have known to be wary of her. Her name: Miriam.

On our third day, we likewise went to have brunch at Fridays. For P400 each, one can enjoy a buffet with salads, pastas, and about 8 main dishes. The food was okay although it was a bit annoying to have to remove the saran wrap covering each dish in the appetizer section with the attendant just watching me. It turns out he was worried about the flies and he was right since I saw one on the potato dish and which I pointed out to the server. The mangoes for dessert were very sweet and they sort of made up for the fly which prevented me from having any of the potatoes.

The front portion of Fridays resort is a nice place for photos. There are hardly any vendors or tourists there and their benches and umbrellas just look picture-perfect. Near Fridays resort is the Tirol Chalet, too where Adi enjoyed looking at Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Come dinnertime, we found ourselves at Willy's Resort which served a good buffet at P290 per head. This was the best meal we had had so far. There was: baked macaroni, salads, barbecue, steamed crab (which we ate a lot of), chicken, mussels, oysters, clams, soup, and mixed veggies. Their peanut banana shake at P95 was also refreshing. Adi loved the banana fritters with chocolate sauce for dessert. They had ripe, sweet and soft bananas, with a not-too-thick flour coating, which you dip in gooey chocolate sauce. Adi could only say: "Hmm. Delicious."

Willy's Resort also had the best service so far of all the resorts we had eaten at. The attendants served us fast, efficiently, and anticipated our needs (i.e. giving us an extra plate where we could put the empty shells of the crabs).

Front of Chalet Tirol (near Friday's). Nope, the chalet is not that tiny structure in the background...

...that's Snow White's house. Yep, she lives near the beach, along with those seven dwarfs.

What you'll see when you look up from your buffet plate at Friday's. There are hardly any tourists yet because it's still a few days before Holy Week.

One of those rare family photos. Daddy feels more comfy behind the lens, see.

The heat was something else. Here are father and son in a tug-of-shade.

DAY 4, April 6, 2001, Friday

We could suddenly feel the holiday rush coming as it was Holy Week the next week. Boats upon boats of local and foreign tourists arrived throughout the day. It was not surprising then to see a former neighbor, high school and college classmates or friends whom we had not seen in years, relatives, and even some of the cast members of Ms. Saigon throughout our five-day stay.

Most of the time was still spent lazing or swimming. After awhile, we realized it was better to swim in the mornings. The water was warmer and bluer, the sand, whiter, and the sunlight made for better pictures.

We visited the Shrine of Mary, Mother and Queen of All Nations in the afternoon. We had to take a 5-minute walk thru the forest, from Pearl of the Pacific's main lobby. It's a conducive place for prayer. It's open on all sides, you sit on tree stumps, and you see the nice blue sky as you look to the altar. Pearl of the Pacific staff tell us that they hold regular Sunday mass there and it is to the resort's credit that it should think of putting up a shrine of their own so close by. We just wish they'd also consistently keep the toilets near the coffee shop clean and in order.

After going to the shrine, it was back to the beach. We tried to build sandcastles. Our castle looked quite pathetic (it didn't look like a castle, for one) though but the wall that Daddy built was something else.

Meal-wise, we enjoyed the Steamed Crab with Aligue (crabfat) and the Garlic Prawns (4 pieces) at Waling-waling twice. Their Banana-Vanilla Shake (P90) and Melon or Papaya-Lemon Shakes (P75) were quite good. After eating the crab, it was also nice to clean our hands with the warm water with kalamansi (native lemon) in a wooden bowl which they provided.

We likewise went back to SeaWind that night and it now had nice torches and capiz lamps all over the place.

The next day was the day we want back home to Manila. We took an afternoon flight and so we spared ourselves from experiencing a Luzon-wide black-out or power outage earlier that Saturday. On our way home, we bought some big and fat female crabs outside the Kalibo airport. For P230-P250 a kilo (from 3 to 4 pieces per kilo), the vendor will put the crabs in a nice bayong (a native bag) for you and you have to check this in with your luggage. This makes for a very welcome gift for the people (our family, for example) back in Manila.

It was a good five days to be together as family, renewing ties with people who have helped make our lives more comfortable over the years. Life is a beach, pleasant but with minor irritations too. It's just up to us whether we choose to relax and enjoy or wilt under pressure. To Boracay again in the year 2003!

Boracay Beckons
Written April 25, 2001
Copyright © 2001 by Angelica Bautista Viloria of

Angel snaps a group of beach newcomers. Yes, some guests continue to arrive even at sundown. It beats having to spend the night at Caticlan, right?

The prize of a 7-minute walk from the Pearl of the Pacific reception desk. You can hear the wild birds cooing in prayer.

Boracay's favorite color is probably blue. Plus a little green from the algae, too. Bring a pair of shades since the glare can be quite overwhelming.

Guess who had the most fun?