28 May 2020

We almost got stranded in Boracay Island during the Enhanced Community Quarantine

Our early summer vacation this year in Boracay, would perhaps be one of the most unforgettable ones. We've planned this vacation at least six months ahead, and like every other person who works hard for their money, we count the days we can see the clear blue waters of Boracay again, smell the scent of sunscreen, and appreciate the art of doing absolutely nothing in paradise. Because isn't that what a vacation is for? To just relax, let time pass you by and not worry or hurry. Well, we spoke too soon, and we're up for a surprise during our last trip to Boracay Island in March.

We are booked for a 7-day vacation at our favorite island, and like any other vacation, there were no definite plans for the day. We decide on what we want to do on the day itself. So, here's a good first 3 days worth of memories in photos. The clincher of a story will unfold as we go.

We celebrated our 11th year Anniversary!

The water was most beautiful when the sun is up. You can see how the colors of the water would gradate from shade of blue, aqua, and turquoise depending on the depth of the water. It was also a welcoming sight that Boracay at this time, did not have a lot of people. There were just locals, some tourists and the occasional beach dog that would sit beside you, hoping you have food to give. I love those Boracay beach dogs, I sometimes wonder if they know that they are living the life!

I just had to take a shot beside this bougainvillea plant whose flowers match the color of my swimsuit.

On island time and loving every minute of it!

Sometimes I wish we never have to leave. We could just live a simple life and live off the bounty of the sea. We'll never know, maybe one day that dream might happen. There were also times when we would kid around and wonder, what if we stayed here for a month? Perhaps our sunburn will get sunburn. Happiness means differently to many people. Ours would have to be living a simple life at a place we love and Boracay is one of those places.

We were also able to stop by our favorite Thai Restaurant in Boracay, Thai Basil at D'Mall. Eating authentic Thai cuisine prepared by a Thai chef. Stop by this gem of a restaurant on your next trip to Boracay. 

Pomelo Salad

Tom Yum

Pad Ka Pao
Stir Fried Minced Meat Infused in Hot Basil

Pork Satay
Thai Skewers in Special Peanut Sauce

Khao Neo Ma Moung
Sweet Sticky Rice with Sliced Riped Mango in Coconut Cream

Sago Pudding with Sweet Corn and Coconut Cream

I just had to share this photo. There is a deli at D'Mall and Mickey couldn't resist to get a bottle of truffle oil. We don't have any left in our pantry and he was afraid we couldn't find any back home. So that bottle is going home with us, all the way from this small deli shop called Heidiland in Boracay. Instead of souvenirs, buy truffle oil. Haha!

Always stopping by Lemoni Cafe for some dessert.

Banana Pie

Apple Pie

Three days into our vacation with these photos and all seems okay, right? Wrong, on our second day of vacation, Mickey received a leaked recommendation memo by the IATF on Viber saying that there will be a lockdown in Metro Manila to help flatten the curve on Covid-19, but we ignored it as it may be just fake news. But reliable news sources said that President Duterte will address the nation on that evening. So while everybody is just chilling around in Boracay, we had an early dinner so we can watch the evening news back at the hotel.

Guess what, the leaked memo were in fact 100% true! Our vacation unfortunately had to be cut short because Metro Manila will be on an Enhanced Community Quarantine starting March 15, 2020 (12:00 midnight) up to April 12, 2020. What alarmed us the most is that there will be no travel by land, air, and sea during the ECQ period.  Wasting no time, we immediately tried to change our return flight to beat the deadline, after repeated attempts, we finally were able to get a very expensive pair of tickets from Cebu Pacific. 

This time, it has already sank in that we are finally going home the next day. We slept on the 3rd night well, knowing that we have secured ourselves a seat. But on our departure date, we got a text message and an e-mail at 4:00 a.m. from Cebu Pacific Airlines saying that our flight has been cancelled. They did not mention if there was a replacement flight, or if we will be joining another flight. The message was just, your flight is cancelled. This is the last day we were supposed to be out of the island. Otherwise, we run the risk of being stranded in Boracay for God knows until when.

We sprung from the bed, ran to the verandah and scampered to find a flight with another airline hoping that we can get a seat. Our situation now is really slim as everybody in Boracay is doing the same thing. But with God's help, we were able to get 2 seats from Philippine Airlines. The tickets are even more expensive now, but we have no choice. The plane leaves in 8:30 a.m., this was short of 5 hours to get our bags packed, take a quick shower, scamper to the concierge and ask for help to book transfers to the airport, praying that we will not be greeted by another cancelled flight advisory. 

At the Caticlan airport, it was chaos. I felt for the people who didn't know that their flights were cancelled, or who couldn't get any flights back to Manila. But we were not yet out of the woods, not until that plane lifts off and we actually land in Manila. Thankfully, it did and we arrived in Manila on March 14, 2020. A day before Metro Manila closes for Enhanced Community Quarantine. Thank you Philippine Airlines for being dependable that day.

Two months later, I saw in the news groups of international tourists being "saved" by mercy flights for being stranded. I wondered, how would it have been for us if we got stranded like they did? I hope they are able to go back to their families safely and in good health.

May our next adventure be not so action-packed, next time. But then, we are thankful that we were able to go on a vacation (even if it was cut short) in March. It seems now, it may take a while again.
The pandemic caused by Covid-19 might change the way we travel in the future, but let it not dull the spark of adventure in each and every one of us. Just keep safe, and stay healthy everyone. 

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