When Locals are the Focal Point

“Please be a traveler, not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what’s right in front of you. Those are the keys to understanding this amazing world we live in.” ― Andrew Zimmern

The day when my feet finally kissed the sought-after sandbars of Boracay Island finally came and living like a local began.

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It has come to my profound attention that my Boracay trip was purely a business trip, until I took off in the high noon and found out that the event I was about to attend was slated to start late in the evening. That said and done, I ate lunch, dropped off my things at the inn, and explored the island on my own pace while waiting for the event to start. I walked and walked until I met locals worth knowing and spending time with rather than burying myself alive in the clean sheets of the inn’s bed.

Thata

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Thata

Thata is the first local I met in Station 2, Boracay. He is a leather craftsman, doing business for several years with Belen and his brother Django, who also happens to sell leather goods in Makati every Sunday. Unlike any other leather producer in the country, they stick to the old habit of putting the leather together: by hand stitching. All goods are handmade, hence the reasonable price tag. They do a variety of wallets, card holders, bracelets, shoes, bags, and their latest creation: foot bikinis.

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After the long chat we pitched, I munched on a generous serving of green mangoes along the stretch of sandbars, until I came across other interesting local artists nearby.

Artists of Mari-it Artworks

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Local artists of Mari-it

If you have been to Boracay several times now, I’m sure you have come across this quaint shop that has been dwelling in the island for several years now.

If you haven’t, here’s why you should:

Mari-it, which means enchanted, doesn’t fail to wow its passersby and customers with their enchanting masterpieces. Their healing stones, jungle vines, masks, artifacts, and other rare finds turned artworks, not to mention their domesticated bat Olaf, makes them one of the best spots in Boracay. Alongside Thata’s leather goods, no design in Mari-it is being duplicated to retain the exclusivity and rarity of their works.

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Olaf, the domesticated bat of Mari-it

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And the event came.

I had to snooze my wandering self to work mode on, until it was done and I had the time of my life again. Wee hours of the evening came and I spent more time with myself on the beach, under the stars, and thanked heavens for the best work and time alone yet.

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Event proper. Photo Courtesy of Noel Godinez

Time of departure came.

I became friends with the locals in an instant as they were welcoming and entertaining enough to capture the hearts of the travelers. Learning their stories and ways of life in two days time made the word goodbye seem harder to bid.

If there’s something that lasts forever, it’s definitely the learning and friendship you have gained.

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