God is on Boracay

One day I met a visiting tourist from Sacramento, California, who told me that Boracay is like Sodom and Gomorrah. She said Boracay is an island where vices and immorality are common. A place where you’ll see many old foreigners with 2 or 3 young Filipina girls in his arms, women in very skimpy bikinis walking unashamedly everywhere, and young people making out on beaches and smoking dope. She asked if anything could be done to stop these sins. It sounds like God is not on Boracay, and all I could say was “I don’t know”.

I was born in the Philippines and when I was 19 I left the country and moved to Vancouver, Canada. In Vancouver there is a nudist beach called Wreck Beach where everybody takes off his or her clothes. Brothels are abundant, prostitution is openly solicited on the streets, and skimpy clothes are nothing to be bothered about as long as you have a good body to flaunt. All these things are common everyday sights in many big western cities and as a person who lived in Canada for 39 years; I grew accustomed to them. You’ll find the same thing all over the world whether you’re in Amsterdam, Paris, London or Monaco.

My life was quite good in Vancouver. My career was in banking and my company was extremely generous to me. After 25 years of service, I owned 2 apartments, have travelled extensively around the world, cruised twice a year, and passed a lot of my time in many casinos. My friends and I would usually meet on Fridays after work to dine in good restaurants and then go on fore some entertainment. And why not? When I considered myself a hardworking Canadian. I was no longer a Filipina but a very independent Canadian who had adjusted well to the western culture. But I had forgotten about God. I would go to church some Sundays out of guilt but only for an hour, and in the middle of the sermons I would be thinking of which casino should I visit on my way home.

So what am I now doing on Boracay if my life had been so good in Vancouver? Sometime during 2004 I came home to the Philippines with a friend to visit my sick mother in Manila. After a couple of days we became restless and somehow found ourselves on a ship going to Boracay. A Korean couple we had met in Roxas named Ginnie and Cooper, who both worked on Boraca,y helped us find a place to stay at Bans Resort. One day as I was coming out of the resort, a young lady approached me and said, “Massage mam”. As I looked at her smiling eyes, I could sense a deep peace and contentment within her. I thought, “are they all like this here… smiling and friendly”. The rest is history. I got hooked on massage and I had found a friend. During the many massage sessions, she would tell me stories about Boracay and in a very short time I had fallen in love with the island and its people. I listened to all of her stories and laughed, as I had never done before.

One day I suddenly felt the urge to go to a church and asked my new friend, “Eden, what churches do you have here on Boracay? I feel like going to church on Sunday.” She replied, “If you like, you can come to our church, but we go on Saturdays.” So next Saturday morning her husband Ricky Garilao picked me up at Bans Resort and took me to a small church in Din-iwid. As we climbed up the stairs, Eden and some church members greeted me with the same lovely friendly smiles which made me feel so at home. I wanted to sit at the back of the church so I could leave easily when the sermon finished, but Eden ushered me close to the front where I could better listen to the speaker. The following Saturday, Eden’s husband came to pick me up again and sat me at the front, and this time I got to know more about the members and the church.

Going back home to Vancouver was not easy after being on Boracay. My computer was no longer fun to work with and people’s faces didn’t have the same smiles and friendliness. After 10 months I found myself coming back to Boracay and attending the same small church on Saturdays. In 2006, on my fourth visit, I decided to break off a relationship, buy my own place, and move permanently to Boracay. Two months after I arrived here, I was baptized on the beach.

The church that I had become a member of is the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Sitio Din-iwid and it has totally changed my outlook of life. It’s a very small church that does a lot for Boracay preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and endeavoring to lead the island populace to believe and accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. Last January 29, Shari Villagante came in to take some pictures while we were showing a biblical drama “I Met Jesus”. It’s the story of the 12 disciples and the women followers of Jesus such as the Virgin Mary, The Samaritan Woman, The Bleeding Woman, Mary Magdalene and her sister Martha. On that day lots of visitors attended including some from Germany and Korea. The church was full.

Biblical dramas are not all we do for Boracay. The church has two radio programs: Gospel Music at station 104.9, airing continuously 24-hrs a day -7 days a week, and “Tinig ng Pag-Asa” (Voice of Hope), every Sunday, from 7.00 – 10.00 pm, Radio Boracay 106.1mhz Fm. A new project is now underway wherein all church members will do a community clean up of the beaches twice a month on Sunday mornings.

Am I happy to become an Adventist? Yes, not only happy but thankful to God for showing me the right way to live my life. A young church that had started in l989 in a small rented shack in Sitio Mangayad, across from Allied Bank with about 20 members, had grown to 87 active members. In 1996 a donor built and moved the church to Sitio Din-iwid where it is now situated. This small Christian church taught me the valuable lessons of Jesus Christ. That it is not through a lavish lifestyle and all its trappings that will we find happiness, peace, and love, but through serving God. The talents I never knew I had is being put to use serving God here on Boracay. The play “I Met Jesus” was scripted and directed by myself, but of course that was through the help of the Holy Spirit. I do not regret leaving my job, my family, friends and possessions for Boracay. The simplicity of life that God taught me has given me peace, love and joy and he promises the same to anyone who will follow him.

Is Boracay Sodom and Gomorrah, a place of sin? I don’t know, because only God can say that. Who am I to judge? But I know that after living here close to 5 years now, God is on Boracay in a small church in Din-iwid called The Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

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  • Patricia Dyer

    Thank you for this post! Do you still live there?