I am a Tourist in My Own Country

April 2015 - Boracay Island, Philippines

With 7,107 islands the Philippines has, how many have you really explored of it? 

"Have you been to Davao, Batanes, Sulu, Surigao, Siquijor?", asked a French solo traveler whom I've met on a shuttle in Coron. He has traveled to almost every island in the Philippines and he just can't help but to go back.  "No? Ah you are missing a lot! You have a lot of really nice places here!", he added, making me feel more embarrassed. It was his second trip to Coron while I was still on my first at that time.

I met a lot of other fellow travelers from all over the world and whenever they find out I am from the Philippines, the never ending praise goes on about how truly beautiful my country is. And to hear their own stories makes me realise how little I have seen of the Philippines.

I haven't really made that much effort to explore my own country and I have spent my travels mostly on visiting other foreign lands, taking on 8 to 14-hours of flight, while my own country is just a 3-hour flight from Singapore. There's just always the notion that I can always visit it any time. The Philippines has always been my last option to go to whenever I can't find any cheap flights to other countries.

Flight to Kalibo, Aklan

Boracay Island is one of the most famous beaches in Asia and in the world. I visited it for the first time last 2012 but it was only for one night and during a rainy season so I do not exactly know what the fuss is all about this island. I only got to truly experience it for the first time last Easter holiday.

White Beach, Boracay Island

The Beach is my favorite place to go to when I feel tired from the hustle and bustle of a city I am at. My ideal beach would be a quiet and relaxing one where I can lay by the sand and read a book or take a nap. So I was a bit overwhelmed of what I've seen in Boracay.

Arriving straight from Singapore on a 3-hour flight to Kalibo, I still had to take a shuttle for almost 2 hours and hop to a boat to get to the island. After all that tiring travel I was just really looking forward to chill by the beach. I didn't anticipate what was waiting for me in Boracay.

There was just a lot of things going on all at the same time on this island! Too crowded and loud as it was a long weekend holiday as well. There's just enough space for the seashore as it was packed with stages, dining areas, chairs and tables, etc. Even the sea itself was filled with sail boats, jetskis, paddle boats, the sky filled with parasails. I think I even get more tired arriving in Boracay.

It was almost close to sunset when I got there so I had to hurry and put down my bag and get dressed to catch the "famous sunset" as what my friend told me.

These local kids offered to build a sandcastle for me.

Waiting for the sunset

Nevertheless, it didn't fail to disappoint me. The sky was painted with orange and yellow streaks as the sun bid goodbye to another day and welcomed another night. And as soon as the sun sets, that was when the other part of Boracay emerged - Night Life.

Sunset in Boracay

Bright, colourful lights lit up the island as loud music began to fill the air. The crowd gathered around the local fire dancers as they start to perform, embarking on another fun-filled night. It seemed so synchronised and expected to be seen but not for me. It was like the beach has transformed into this huge, open-air party place. All types of music can be heard - pop, rock, live bands, acoustic - name it, they play it! I can't keep up where to watch and what to listen to as all of them were just literally right next to each other. We were listening to this solo acoustic singer playing Ed Sheeran while the bar next to him was playing Rihanna. Even if you are not into partying and dancing, I bet you would have still enjoyed it. The mood of the island and the people was just contagious.


I felt like just any other first time tourist, all smiles and looking wide-eyed on all the flashy, festive things around me. I just can't believe how much fun I was missing on visiting a place like this in my own country.

You can do and find almost everything in here - shops, good food, good entertainment, good music, talented local performers, white sand, clear skies, pristine waters, lots of activities to do - how can anyone want to leave? I was very much impressed how the locals have worked hard to promote this island into a very popular tourist destination. I don't even remember having a dull moment in here. Anywhere you set your eyes upon on, there will always be something interesting to catch your attention.

Dinner by the beach just right after the sunset.

Thankfully I was still able to find an area of solitude, away from the sea of people and had some time to relax the next day.

Station 1, White Beach, Boracay

A glimpse on a beach wedding setting in Station 1, White Beach, Boracay

I kept on putting off going here before because of my impression that it is just too commercialised and it's really not my type of beach. I may not have thoroughly been able to relax during my short trip here but it did leave me a good impression for me to go back again, perhaps on a longer trip next time. Now I know why a lot of foreigners and even Filipinos are drawn to this island. I doubt that it's just the white sand and clear waters that they keep coming back to. It's the vibe that Boracay emanates that you can't resist.

There is truly no other place like home and we should all really do need to put more effort in exploring our own country. This trip has been a wake up call for me to see more of my own country so that the next time I meet another traveler who has seen the Philippines I would no longer be ignorant of my own country.