I was stationed in Boracay at the turn of the millennium. It looked very different then. A lot lusher. A lot quieter. Of course to earlier immigrants who had settled on the island twenty years before my arrival, I was profoundly mistaken. Because according to them, there was once when Boracay was truly magical, when the island didn’t yet have electricity but it didn’t matter because its unspoiled beauty was enough to genuinely light up and move your soul.
Today, the island is like a small city, with a Starbucks, an Army Navy and a Yellow Cab. I couldn’t believe it at first, almost experiencing a kind of denial that prompted me to curse all these cash-hungry opportunists for ruining the pristine tropical vista and erecting the very concrete edifices I was hoping to run away from.
I had to shut my gullet, though, as soon as I discovered there was a three-floor department store right in the middle of it all. There. No use talking smack. Just accept that Boracay has already changed.
But… I can always keep some elements of its past alive. Starting with the beloved jam jar cocktails that I have had the pleasure of discovering in a shooter bar called Cocomangas.
This place was then THE place to be when visiting the island. Made famous for its ‘Still Standing After 15′ drink promotion, island revelers flocked to this dive with hopes of having their names immortalized on brass plates after downing a flight of 15 liquor shots and looking like veritable idiots.
I, on the other hand, came here for their pool tables, their decent pizzas and their classic cocktails served in — yes, you guessed it — jam jars.
It has become somewhat decrepit nowadays. A bit like me, I suppose, worn out by time. But I had my share of great memories in places like this, where drinking beer from a snorkel is mischievously encouraged and getting pissed drunk from ingesting 15 shots of poison is rewarded with an esteemed place on a Wall of Fame.
It’s been 12 years since I first ordered a jam jar cocktail. I don’t exactly plan on reenacting my heydays but whipping up a more sophisticated tipple at home to relive a few fond memories from my youth is definitely something of a treat. A bridge of sorts between what has endeared me to this jewel of an island and what’s staring at me beyond the azure horizon.
Temporarily anchoring myself on its windy side, where Nature is still raw and untouched by commercialism, I raise my glass and embrace the one thing that is constant in this universe.
“Omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis.”