Boracay Island

Malay town unveils longer Love Boracay in 2023

Jun Aguirre

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Malay town unveils longer Love Boracay in 2023

LOVE BORACAY. An Ati-Atihan group performs at the front beach of Boracay on April 29, 2022.

Courtesy Boracay Sun

Love Boracay 2023 marks the return of the Obreros Festival Dance Showdown

BORACAY, Philippines – Love Boracay, a summer highlight of the Philippines’ premier tourism destination, will start early in 2023, from April 28 to May 1.

Malay Mayor Floribar Bautista told Rappler in a telephone interview on Friday, March 31 that moving the start of Love Boracay a day early aims to attract more tourists.

Malay, on the Aklan mainland, has administrative control over Boracay island

Bautista said the local government allocated P1.5 million to provide tourists with more amenities.

“One major feature of this year’s Love Boracay is the Obreros Festival revival,” the mayor said. “We suspended the Obreros Dance Showdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The Municipal Tourism Office released this schedule of activities:

  • April 28- Clean up drive, opening program of Love Boracay (Ati-Atihan Vibe); parade of sea and aqua sports assets; open dance contest;
  • April 29- Family Fun Run for mental wellness, clean up drive; sports competitions in volleyball, soccer, frisbee; and a beach music and arts festlval;
  • April 30- Clean up drive, paraw regatta (native boat race); continuation of beach sports and music and arts festival;
  • May 1- Clean up drive, continuation of paraw regatta, revival of Obreros Festival dance showdown  in mainland Malay (20th year) and closing program with fireworks display on Boracay.

The private sector has separate but coordinated activities, with most hotels and establishments hosting supplemental events.


Love Boracay, originally Laboracay, started as a mainland Malay feast on May 1 for St. Joseph the Worker.

It then spilled over to the resort island, becoming a series of party events.

Laboracay screeched to a halt in 2018 when then-president Rodrigo Duterte ordered the island closed from April to October for environmental rehabilitation.

In 2019, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) suggested the change of name to Love Boracay.

The move emphasized the environmental conservation thrust on the resort island.

From 2019 to 2020, the festival ran from April 29 to May 1.

The COVID-19 pandemic scuttled festivities from 2020 to 2021. Though the island slowly opened, by February 2022, most visitors were domestic tourists.

But Boracay got a much-needed boost in July 2022, when the international magazine TIME included the resort island in its prestigious list of the World’s Greatest Places.

BLAST OF COLOR. Residents show off sn Ati-Atihan costume showcase in Boracay during the Love Boracay 2022 event. DENR-Western Visayas

Felix Delos Santos, Malay Tourism Office chief said that they conducted a three-day Developmental Festival Management training from March 27 to 30 o orient choreographers and organizers from 17 barangays of the town on the contest mechanic.

Among the speakers were Chris Lyndon Millado, former vice president and art director of the Cultural Center of the Philippines; production, set and costume designer John Carlo Pagunaling; Carl Kevin Camarao, instrumentalist, music teacher and member of ethnic music-dance ensemble Kontra-Gapi; and choreographers Herbert and Ma Elena Alvarez.

TRAINING. Organizers and choreographers gather for training to improve the standards of the Obreros Festival of Malay, Aklan. (Malay Tourism Office)

‘Revenge travel’

Western Visayas officials in February 2023 forecast a one-third increase in the number of tourists this year.

Citing revenge travel, the Department of Tourism (DOT) in Western Visayas increased its 2023 target to some 3.8 million foreign and local tourists.

This is a million more than the actual 2.8 million visitors that went to Boracay and other places in Region VI in 2022.

Most of these foreign tourists and balikbayan (returning overseas Filipinos) will visit Boracay even if their primary destination is elsewhere in the region’s six provinces, said Aklan 2nd District Representative Teodorico Haresco.

Haresco said 26% of the tourists in 2023 are expected to come from China. At least 18 cruise ships are scheduled to dock near Boracay this year. –

Jun Aguirre is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.

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