So you're all set for your Boracay vacation. Make sure your sunscreen and wide-brimmed hat are packed with your beach wear. Do you have a first-aid kit? You should have emergency medicines and supplies ready wherever you go. You never know when you'll need a band-aid. Finally, check whether the pasalubong wish list from family and friends is complete (unless you're up for guilt trips when you come home). To avoid your mom complaining that you got the wrong item, jot down any specification such as preferred quality, store/brand, etc. You can also research on recommended shops that sell authentic souvenirs in Boracay. This can save you time and money when shopping for Boracay souvenirs especially if you have limited vacation time.
Here's your guide in choosing, hunting, and shopping for charming souvenirs from Boracay.
Hands off the sand and pebbles
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Your sister wants a jar of Boracay's famous white sands? She needs to choose another pasalubong. Municipal Ordinance No. 2001-141, “An Ordinance Banning the Exaction and Collection of White Sand and Pebbles in the Beaches of Boracay Island,” states that “no person, natural or juridical, shall extract and collect white sand and pebbles in the beaches of Boracay Island for any purpose.” Violators face a fine of two thousand five hundred pesos (Php2,500.00) and confiscation or imprisonment of not less than six months, or both.
Can't take home those seashells, too
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Similar with Boracay's sand and pebbles, there are kinds of shells that you're prohibited from taking home. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources promulgated Order No. 208, prohibiting the catching of rare, threatened and endangered fishery species including some seashells: cardidae, cassidae, cypraeidae, etc. These marine species play an important role in the marine ecosystem. For your guidance, you can download the GTO Forbidden Seashells Poster.
The penalty for violating this law is quite steep: imprisonment from 12 to 20 years or a fine of one hundred and twenty thousand pesos (Php120,000.00), or both, in the discretion of the court, including confiscation of the catch subject of the offense.
Know where to go to save time
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If your vacation is limited to a two-day weekend, you won't have time to scour Kalibo or Boracay on your own for the best deals. Plan your trip wisely. You can ask the Tourism Office for the best souvenir stores in Boracay. You can also ask a friend who’ve been in the province for recommendations. There are reviews in travel blogs and message boards. Knowing where to go can save you precious time.
Buy local, help the economy
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Tourism brings livelihood to Boracay locals. Your purchase of souvenirs help drive the local economy. Souvenir shops and stalls are scattered all over the island. You can get good deals from shops in the markets where you can haggle for prices. D'Talipapa, also known as the paluto foodstop, houses strips of souvenir stalls that sell shirts, key chains, and accessories.
For unique Boracay items, you can visit the stalls run by members of Malay Boracay Vendors Peddlers Masseurs and Manicurists Association in Station 2. They sell gorgeous jewelry pieces made of Puka shells, miniature Boracay kubo in a bottle, and organic products.
There's fun in haggling
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Not everyone is into haggling. Some are concerned that they might be regarded as cheapskates while others just don't have the patience for it. But there's no shame in haggling as long as you're not taking it too far. When buying a souvenir in Boracay, try comparing prices in three to four stalls. You'll have an idea on how low the price can go. If the first three shops quoted you a final price of Php100.00 for a printed shirt, a fourth shop will unlikely offer you a cheaper deal. Move on to the next item in your list. Consider buying in bulk, such as Puka shell anklets for your nieces, in one store. You can haggle better if you also have something to offer the good vendor.
The exquisite Piña fiber
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Keychains are cute, but if you have the budget, buy your dear grandmother a gift made of Aklan's exquisite piña fiber. Piña fibers from pineapples are blended and woven with silk to make it sheer and soft. It's commonly used for barongs, sayas and elegant evening wear. Piña weaving is considered the oldest industry in Aklan. Most weaving shops are run by families who passed down techniques in producing export-quality hand-woven cloths from one generation to another. Impress your Lola by bringing her an item from La Herminia Piña Weaving Industry at Old Buswang or Syndee's at St. Michael St., both in Kalibo.
Gifting with a purpose
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If you're bringing your dad a gift, why not choose something that will not just gather dust inside his drawers? Key chains and refrigerator magnets are the easiest souvenirs to find. They're also the most affordable. But are your options really limited to these trinkets? You can buy items that family and friends can use or consume instead of add into their clutter. Here are some suggestions:
- delectable piaya and barquillos for dad from Bongbong's at Gaisano, Kalibo
- woven baskets from Kalibo market for your mom's anik-anik
- dried mangoes from anywhere in Aklan for your boss
- snack bites from D'Mall for your officemates (3 for Php100.00 — cool deal!)
- a pair of personalized slippers from D'Talipapa for your brother
The piña shawl or blouse for your Lola still stands. You know she deserves it.
Personalized videos for family and friends
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Don't want to have extra luggage back home? No problem. You can create short video messages to family and friends instead. Make it truly unique by planning on the locations, the theme of each video, and the message addressed to specific people. Inject humor. As a gift to your brother, you can shoot a 60-second video while exploring the forested parts of Boracay with a dramatic voice over: “This forest reminds me of your bedroom. The only difference is, I can breathe fresh air here.”
A coffee table book of your own
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“If there's no selfie, it never happened.” Photos today are not just means to store memories. They're evidence of your wonderful escapades. But really, who browses through hundreds of digital photos in your Facebook albums? Do these shots even mean anything to you?
You can take several shots of the breathtaking view of the Boracay island from Alta Vista de Boracay, and just let your senses savor the beauty around you. Because the hotel is situated on one of the the island’s highest peaks, get ready to take photos of the picture-perfect scenery of the beach while enjoying a 360 view of the rest of the island. If you think the island is already photogenic from the hotel in morning, what more during nighttime? The elevation of the hotel will give you a view that is just majestic.
Here's an interesting gift idea: a coffee table book with your photos. You can use Blurb or Shutterfly to turn those amazing shots into a stylish compilation of the best of your vacation.
When choosing a pasalubong from your Boracay trip, go for items that will give value to the recipient. You don't even have to spend much. Use your creativity. Level up your gift giving.