AKLAN, Philippines – When top tourist destination Boracay Island was closed to tourists, a cook had to stop delivering meals to his customers.
Hanafi Indar Barani, 34, had been cooking and delivering meals to Muslims in Boracay for more than two years. A native of Balindong town in Lanao del Sur, he went to Boracay 15 years ago, hoping to live a better life.
“Umaabot ako ng mga P3,000 sa isang araw dati. Nung nagsara ang Boracay nung isang araw, tumigil na ako magluto. Wala nang bumibili. Nag-stop na po,” Barani told Rappler.
(I used to earn around P3,000 a day before. When Boracay closed the other day, I stopped cooking. Nobody bought from me anymore. They stopped.)
He said that like him, his customers had to save money to survive the rest of the 6 months the island resort was going to be closed to tourists.
“‘Yung iba uuwi muna tapos ‘yung iba nagtitipid sa pagkain eh. Kakain na lang daw sila ng itlog para makatipid,” Barani said. (Others will go home [to the province] while others are saving on food. They said they’ll just eat eggs to save money) His meals cost at least P60 each.
He said that he supports the closure but it comes “at the expense of his income.”
“Siyempre sinusuportahan ko pero wala tayong magagawa eh. Magtiiis-tiis na lang muna kahit walang kikitain,” he said. (Of course I support [the closure] but we can’t do anything about it. We have to bear it even if we’re not making money.)
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Boracay’s closure, citing environmental problems. On April 26, it was officially closed.
With the closure, a big question for Barani is how he will support his family in the next 6 months. He has two kids – a sixth grader and another one in the second grade.
To get by, he said he would probably eat only once a day just to save money for his children’s education.
“‘Yung pagkain ko ng dalawang beses sa isang araw, isa na lang para makatipid. Siguro hihingi ng tulong sa gobyerno. O kaya magpiprito muna ako ng saging basta may kitain sa isang araw,” Barani said.
(Instead of eating twice a day, I will eat only once to save. Maybe I will ask for the government’s help. Or maybe I will fry bananas so I can earn something per day.)
Going to his home province is not an option, Barani said. Both his children study in Boracay and he does not want them to move schools just because of a temporary closure.
“May binibigay ang DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) na ayuda para sa uuwi sa probinsya. Pero ‘di ako puwedeng umuwi, nandito ang pamilya ko at dito rin nag-aaral ang mga anak ko,” he said.
(The DSWD gives financial aid to those going home to their provinces. But I can’t go home, my family is here and my children study here as well.)
Many business owners decided to close shop while others will be operating until their supplies last.
For Barani, he is only hoping that the President understands their plight and will help them to survive in the coming months.
“Dapat maibigay na ang tulong sa amin para ‘yung buhay namin ma-survive namin sa anim na buwan (Aid should be given to us so we can survive in the next 6 months),” he said.
With no master plan for the Boracay rehabilitation project, Duterte approved the recommendation of the environment, interior, and tourism departments to close Boracay for a maximum of 6 months.
On the same day of the closure, the President signed the state of calamity order covering 3 villages in Boracay Island, allowing agencies to access the P19.8-billion national calamity fund, P2 billion of which has been allocated for Boracay’s rehabilitation.
Revenue losses during a 6-month shutdown is estimated to run up to P1.96 billion, with the Western Visayas economy being hurt the most.
Workers affected by the Boracay closure have filed a petition with the Supreme Court to stop the closure. – Rappler.com
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