Back to Boracay through the Nautical Highway (Part II)

I started visiting Boracay back in the 1980s when there was no Nautical Highway yet. I visited the island then on several occasions as a journalist and witnessed its development (and degradation?).

As I said earlier in Part I of this two-part series, my frequent visits to Boracay were not only because of its powdery white sand beaches nor because of its nightly insane parties. Over the years, I have made friends with the main characters of the island.

The first close friend I ever made in Boracay, was Steve Tajanlangit, a pioneer on the island, who sadly passed away a couple of years ago. Since his death, friends and relatives of Steve celebrate his birthday—November 12—in his Boracay Terraces Resort, an annual reunion of sorts.

This year, we did it at the latest addition to BRT—Steve's Cliff—which according to his eldest daughter, Lara, “is one of my dad’s last requests way before, when was that, around 2010, 2011.”

“He was here in December (2011) and he was saying that he wanted to make this, actually, a 6-star bar and lounge area for everyone to enjoy. He always wanted to share, right? He always wanted to share the island, so he wanted to share it with everyone.

“So this was his office. So all his friends came, and then he’d always talk about the island, his ideas for the island, and this was kind of a place where he’d share his ideas. So at the same time he wanted to share with everyone what he sees everyday, so he was telling me he wanted to fix it up and so people would come and sit coz sometimes they don’t realize—they only stay in the restaurant—that the best spot is here.”

So in 2014, Steve’s family decided that it was about time they gave him his wish. “So for sure, his spirit is here with us and then—thus we have this place which is actually more him,” Lara said.

Lara, who is directly in charge of developing Steve’s Cliff into the 6-star bar envisioned by Steve, said her father “liked entertaining people, he liked good food, and he also liked to help people.

“So one of the main things that we’re doing here is we have a special menu that we were talking about earlier. We have a menu that’s for—where people can give back. So they can order and then 10% will go to a cause that they want. So we have two causes.

“One is for the wildlife of Boracay, the flying foxes. So we have two drinks and a dessert that you can order, then a percentage of the income from that will go to the cause of the Friends of Flying Foxes. They help in educational campaign to help protect the last remaining beach forest in Boracay.

“So it’s one of the legacies we’d like to keep.

“Another is he wanted to help the poor, so at a young age—maybe in his early twenties, even before he was setting up Boracay—he set up Taytay sa Kauswagan, which was a non-government, non-profit organization for micro-finance. And he believed that by helping the poor help themselves, we will get out of our problems here in the Philippines.

“He didn’t want to just dole out money so it was about livelihood. So, since in Boracay, we have the indigenous people, the Atis. We are helping the Atis, and we’d like also to preserve their culture and to make their livelihood sustainable.

“So they’ve been selling the Ati soap, and then we are also giving it in our rooms, at the same time, we’re also offering drinks that go with the soap. So at the same time, we want our guests to be able to bring home something¬—a piece of Boracay.

“A piece of the past of Boracay, the culture of Boracay, and also to keep to what my dad wanted—eco-cultural tourism, right?

“So that’s what Steve’s Cliff is about,” Lara said.

Mandala Spa

The following day after the party at BTR and elsewhere on the island, I thought the best thing to do was to detox at the Mandala Spa & Resort Villas.

Since 2001, Mandala Spa & Resort Villas has started offering innovative spa treatments and luxurious accommodations in their resort.

Mandala’s spa offerings deliver utmost relaxation and rejuvenation. It is a refuge of tranquility and serenity where one feels cradled by nature in utmost care. The idyllic hilltop tropical sanctuary is surrounded by an untouched natural landscape, built to sustain ecological balance and to provide a tropical haven that defines a true Boracay Island experience.

They combine pampering and wellness through ancient Asian traditions with modern Western techniques. An extensive training program ensures that every therapist provides the highest quality of professional spa service. At Mandala Spa, expect a unique experience that delivers personal care, quality of touch, excellent ingredients, and holistic healing.

They offer various spa services and treatment packages.

Mandala is more like a country estate than a spa, which bagged two international “BEST” Awards last year—Philippines Leading Resort and Leading Spa—at the 22nd World Travel Awards 2015.

Mandala is the only Philippine property to win two distinguished awards, voted by travelers and travel agents worldwide, besting other Philippine spa resorts in the country.