ILOILO CITY—If Boracay residents had their way, they would shoot the messenger—in this case, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque—and not over his message but the way he said it.
Roque, who had tweeted about the island being off-limits to tourists for six months, earned the ire of Boracay folk for calling the premier tourist destination by a nickname hated by the locals: Bora.
“Bora closed for 6 mos effective 26 April,” Roque tweeted at 9:32 p.m. on Wednesday, confirming the long-anticipated shutdown of the country’s top tourist destination which was announced after a Cabinet meeting.
“I am more outraged that you called Boracay as ‘Bora,’” Paul Caranto said in reply to Roque’s tweet.
Many residents have been campaigning among visitors and locals themselves to refer to the island as Boracay, so as not to confuse it with Bora Bora, an island of French Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean that is also a popular tourist destination.
“Sir, you’re about to displace and remove income from over 30k people … At least call the island by its correct name,” Rica Velasco tweeted.
“Boracay not Bora. This shows how well you know our island and how sincerely you listen to its people,” Denise Tolentino said.
Some netizens were more courteous: “Boracay po, Sir. Not Bora. Correction lang po. Thanks!” Mykel DC Mayor tweeted.
“Its BORACAY not BORA sir, pleaaaseee!” ANNSARAH pleaded in another tweet.
Others did not mince words: “Unless youve been hacked … news of this magnitude is being passed on to people in 33 characters?! This (is) some BS,” R Don Lagasca said.
“Tatlong letra nlang kulang hindi pa binuo! (You need only three letters to complete the name, why didn’t you) Ayaw ko na maging lawyer!” Raffy Cooper said.
Cold, distant, heartless
Yoko Yan tweeted: “He’s delivering devastating news that will most likely bankrupt us and he didn’t have the decency to call our island (by) its proper name, Boracay. The tweet is cold, distant and heartless. 80K residents dito. Yung tweet parang nagpapasara lang ng isang kanto.”
“As the presidential spokesperson I’d have expected a little more from you. First of all, the island’s name is Boracay not Bora. Second, I would have expected you, of all people, to break this news in a more professional manner. 40 characters and abbreviated? DISAPPOINTING!” Don Valdez said.
A few years ago, several Boracay residents launched the “Boracay Please, Not Bora” campaign and opened a Facebook account to promote it.
“It took Boracaynons and the first batch of expats more than 20 years to make Boracay the Philippines’ premier tourist destination. Why rename it?” the group said on its Facebook account.
The municipality of Malay, which has jurisdiction over Boracay Island, has prohibited the use of the shorthand “Bora” for the popular resort island in promotional materials and business activities.
The municipal council has also asked the municipal licensing office to deny permits to business operations that use the name “Bora” instead of “Boracay.”