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Boracay Island isn’t paradise for wheelchairs


I accompanied my parents to Boracay Island back on March 2011. I know; it has been several years and I am just now writing about it (05/07/2013). I was side-tracked with writing several novels and a screenplay upon arrival, all still waiting to be published with payment. I even agreed to go for research because I was working on a fictional story with Boracay Island as a happy ending location for my romance novel still a work in progress (WIP).

Waves, Borocay Island

Pic: a hobby/Flickr

Anyway, before going I was told many times; Boracay Island was the destination spot of the Philippines, the white sands. You could walk barefoot in the hottest time of the day without burning the bottom of your feet, supposedly. Note: I did not try it.

I responded; there is a beach behind the house of my parents and I do not know how to swim. My idea of a vacation is going to a concrete jungle and staying at an air-conditioned hotel room with room service and I can walk around an air-conditioned indoor super mall.

The comeback was that they have air-conditioned hotels at Boracay Island.

My parents in their mid-seventies had never been to Boracay Island before. It was on a list of things to do before my mother could no longer travel, to go to Boracay Island.

Going to the island of Boracay was like a thrill seeking amusement ride at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. But it was not an amusement ride.

The island is certainly not for the elderly needing wheelchair access and you will figure it out when you land at the airport and you need to go to the island, somehow.

Get plenty of sleep before going there because looking at how to get to the island from the docking port near the airport at Caticlan would give anyone motion sickness.

Ask for the first floor when you make your reservation at your chosen hotel, if you are elderly. When you see the hotels built on sides of mountains with narrow walkways, you might understand during sightseeing excursions.

My mother was getting recommendations to stay at the best hotel. She asked me to look it up on the Internet. I surfed and I searched and I corresponded with E-mail responses from the website guides.

Written out, I handed my mother the quotes of the best hotels; I even pointed out that one hotel (Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa, Philippines) will pick us up with a speed boat at the ferry boat docking port of the Caticlan Airport.

“Ike, we cannot afford that,” said mother.

She looked through The Philippine Star printed newspaper and she found Microtel Hotel Boracay and I sent E-mail correspondences.

I asked for a wheelchair for my father for use during our entire stay and I received a reply requesting if we would need the wheelchair during pick up from the airport. Of course the answer was yes.

A security guy with a wheelchair from the hotel met us at the airport to ride the tug boat for the fifteen minute ride to the island. My father was able to slowly walk the plank to sit at the top of the tug boat and my mother told the security guy that we will never comeback. If she would have known how much trouble it was to go to the island, she would have stayed home.

My parents were unable to go down inside the cabin of the tug boat so good thing there were plastic chairs available from down below and my father held onto the secure line with both hands for dear life during the ride.

Pic: GreenArcher04/Flickr

To leave the tug boat, our security guy offered to carry my father on his back like a sack of 100 kilo rice and I talked the security guy out of the idea. My father was in a temporary shock of how he was going to depart the tug boat. I suggested walking him slowly down the plank, which wavered from side-to-side.

Boracay Island is certainly for the younger and outdoor type. There was plenty to do for the younger crowd.

When we were ready to eat dinner, we were escorted by the security guy at the hotel and he proceeded to push the wheelchair with my father sitting inside the wheelchair. But there was sand, which separated the hotel rooms from the outdoor restaurant. The security guy pushed the wheelchair into the sand thinking that the wheelchair would just cruise on top to the cement area of the outdoor restaurant.

I offered to slowly walk my father into an empty table at the outdoor restaurant.

Before the sweet and sour breaded fish filet was served, my father said in near fright: when your mommy and I were younger, we could swim anywhere in the Pacific Ocean. Today, I cannot even walk ten feet without needing someone to brace me.

I thought about it; I do not know how to swim. If we all fell out of the tug boat whilst staying at the upper deck area, we would all be dead. I could not save my parents and they could not save me.

I liked the food, but my parents were really angry and they seriously regretted the trip.

Of course my father stayed in the hotel room most of the time except when he ate the complementary breakfast and he enjoyed the early morning fresh air and whilst my mother and I rode the free shuttle ride to the outdoor Boracay D’Mall to buy lunch like the giant hamburger at Rumba’s Bar & Restaurant and Pancit Bihon and Sotanghon – rice noodles – to eat at the hotel room.

To go home we had to use the “bangka” or small boat back to the airport. The security guards at Microtel Hotel made sure my father was able to go to the airport safely. The “bangka” ride was like riding our jeepneys but on the Pacific Ocean.

The “bangka” ride was better than riding the train at “It’s a Small World” amusement ride at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I was singing during the “bangka” ride to the airport while wearing my life vest.

“It’s a small world after all.
“It’s a small world after all.
“It’s a small world after all.
“It’s a small, small world.”

If you plan ahead and you ask the right questions and you make sure your physical demands are satisfied, you will have a thrilling and a fun and a fantastic time. But the elderly, be warned.

My parents hated their Boracay Island experience, but I enjoyed it. I might go back someday and write a novel.

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