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Tropical wonderland vacation that breaks no bank

By DAVID CASUCO, Balita Media Editor

Boracay is arguably a world class destination. Surprisingly, a lot of Filipinos and Fil-Ams have not been there because they think they don’t have enough money to spend for the trip. It is a shame, because when I did my own personal survey, only one of ten Pinoys that I pooled had been to that Paradise Island, while the Chinese and Korean tourists come in droves everyday to frolic with abandon on one of God’s most awesome masterstrokes.

Going Boracay is not, by any stretch of the imagination, very expensive. You can have fun under the sun on one of the most fabulous beaches in the world without breaking the bank.

Let us start in Manila with $500 (roughly 22 thousand  pesos), or less a quarter of your paycheck in California.  The next thing is pick a month that is not in season;  say, July to November (the average round trip Caticlan Boracay-Manila airfare is  PHp10,000). The air fare, you can charge it to your visa card.

And even if you don’t  use your credit card, you still have a full 12k in your pocket. Less the terminal fees and taxes (these are usually covered if you go through a travel agency), you should have a solid 10k left when you disembark on the shores of the tropical wonderland.

Don’t get crazy, watch your luggage, the white powdery beach is still a twenty-minute ride away. Look to your right where the pedicabs are lined up. (The taxi and FX are not options if you are on a budget trip).Tell the pedicab driver to bring you to Stage Two (the beach area has three stages), and in a street where the Boracay Police Station is located (just tell him you have business with the cops).  In that street, you will find 700 pesos-a-night air-conditioned pension houses; others with wi-fi connectivity like Alice In Wonderland and Roque charge a couple of hundred dollars more.  If you want to save more, tell the pedicab driver you don’t mind if he loads more people in. In that case you cut your pedicab fare by half. Now, pay attention, there is a caveat here:  You have to hold your L.A. accent in check.  If the driver senses that you are from the la-la Land of the dollars, most likely he will overcharge you.

Having paid two thousand pesos for two nights, you have seven thousand pesos remaining. Two days and three nights of food will cost you (on a 350 pesos a day) about a thousand. You do not buy your food by the beach front, you know that. Sure, a two-piece banana cue at the beach costs only 20 pesos or less.

Now, you gotta take advantage of the sun, the sea , and the sand. Nobody, but God, owns those. So, the use of those wonderful natural amenities does not cost anything (what an amazingly wonderful and generous God!) Aside from making the sand powdery white (the sand does not get hot even during the torrid summer heat), the salinity of the water around the beach is considerably lower compared to anywhere else. How did it happen in Boracay, only God knows.

Remember, Boracay is essentially a party beach. Meaning the Boracay nights are just as vibrant and engaging. So, aside from the day time fun, the evenings usher in more entertainment and an endless flow of wine and spirits. If you get sucked up onto these activities, you must use your charge cards.

Whenever you get hungry, take a tricycle (ten pesos or $0.20) to the flea market or the Talipapa sa Boracay and you will have a myriad choices of food from Mang Inasal to Andok’s Manok, to barbecue restaurants and Korean-inspired kitchens. In there, you can buy fresh young coco juice at 40 pesos, and eat fresh fish straight from the chopping boards of the wet market right in the middle of the clean and very orderly talipapa. You will be surprised that when you check out from the pension house, you will have enough money for the pasalubongs. Just with 500 dollars.

Before I forgot , the Talipapa sa Boracay is a haven for bargain shoppers. So, any extra time you have after meals can be spent shopping around the flea market, where one can find exotic souvenir items – from the handwoven malongs to cultured blue or pink pearls from the sea farms of or nearby Palawan.

Oh, did you say you are using your visa card for the air fare?  Then, your out-of- the-pocket expenses should be just 300 dollars (roughly 14 thousand pesos). Then, you can still buy a couple of Boracay Rum for your backyard weekend barbecue back here in L.A. Told ya!

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