Boracay Magazine is a local glossy first released in 2012 and ran to five issues till 2013. In those first five issues, it grew more as a “place” rather than as a “travel” magazine, reading more like a zine in the tradition of independent publishing but with high-quality photography and offset printing.
Its first incarnation revealed an uneasy mix of advertorial and creative journalism that focuses on cultural history, in a way attempting to reflect the island’s checkered history. Boracay was a sleepy, isolated island that became a backpacker enclave in the 1980s and 90s, with many travelers, having found their paradise, settling in and starting homegrown tourism with the locals. In collective memory this period is fondly referred to as the “golden age” until—as is usually the case with many other backpacker sites—the global multi-million dollar travel industry took notice and triggered its development phase. Among locals, old-timers, and a generation of offspring born and raised in the island through these changes, a nostalgia for the “old Boracay” mixes with a newer ethos brought by a flocking in of tourism workers, investors, and convenience tourists. The magazine attempts to capture this mixed, complex and contradictory feeling as expressed in daily island rituals: the various arts, community life, hospitality work, sports and leisure, environmental activism, marriage and family, even politics and social dynamics.
The magazine stopped publishing after its fifth issue in November 2013 to take stock of where it has been, and where it is going. Among the many concerns is finding the right business model appropriate to the island’s local culture. The magazine has been an ad-driven free magazine, a sales-driven magazine, and is still searching for the right formula that prioritizes editorial over marketing concerns. The magazine does not sell Boracay, but rather tells its story through contributions by local writers, artists, and thinkers. If there is, or if there is going to be, such a thing as Boracay literature, art, music, as well as Boracay sports, food, fashion, or enterprise culture that take into account the island’s topography, people, and distinct way of life, the magazine’s work is to encourage this emerging sense of a Boracay cultural identity.
What Interests Us
At this point, the visionaries behind the magazine are no longer going to entertain ideas that are purely on the side of “promoting Boracay”—e.g., things you should do, things you should buy, what to wear, where are the best hotels, etc. There are many publications, both in print and online, that provide such information.
What would set the magazine apart, for example, is rather than a list of the various water sports and activities on offer in Boracay, a more nuanced review of paraw (traditional sailboat) sailing that can take one to the nooks and crannies of the island; or how paraw sails used to be like canvas for colorful paintings (rather than moving commercial ads); or how eco-friendly this wind-powered vessel is before “eco-friendly” came in vogue.
We’re no longer interested in swimsuit models, but in conceptual photography or visual art communicating a message beyond aesthetics. For example, we’ve experimented with a country lass and a fisherman for a romantic photo concept that pays tribute to Boracay’s fishing village past. Or a female model covered with tattoo, most of her skin etched with symbols, suggesting the idea of our bodies bearing the pain and beauty of artfully living on an island.
When we feature hotels, we may not provide a customer’s review, but more like that hotel’s place in Boracay history, or how a philosophy finds expression in its architecture, food, and work culture. We may feature breakfast fare that doesn’t really offer much distinction, but becomes much “tastier” when understood as a reminder of Boracay’s past when there was no other coffee shop but this one that brews coffee in a pot over fire, when a foreign food item like a muffin gets localized with the addition of easily sourced calamansi (read it here).
In the meantime that Boracay Magazine is not actively in print, the chief editor will curate the best material from those first five issues and publish them here. The network of people who provided the magazine with their stories, memories, creative expressions, photos, ideas, views, resources, etc. are still very much around, and the editors will tap them to keep a fresh stream of material flowing. New contributors are welcome but are urged to be familiar with our editorial policy (the kinds of work we prefer) and the existing content of this site.
From Magazine to Book
In the course of running this publication, the chief editor (who by profession is a literature scholar) has benefited from so many interviews, conversations, consultations and archival work done for the magazine. The magazine was actually born when said literature scholar from Manila first met a Boracay local memoirist in 2011 (read publisher’s bio), opening her eyes to the deep narrative wealth of the island, waiting to be told and documented. A Boracay-based magazine has long been the dream of many writers and creative people in the island, said the memoirist.
Though the magazine has temporarily ceased operations, the editor has not ceased researching and compiling material. In lieu of the magazine, the editor with the help of the island’s creative community is working on a book anthology project tentatively titled Boracay Island: Subculture and Community. The content of this website and the magazine may be thought of as the entertainment, bite-sized versions of these in-depth studies in progress.
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