Stop calling it another name: It’s ‘Boracay’, and not ‘Bora’

We use abbreviation mostly to shortened a word or simply to squeeze a lot of writing into a small space. And perhaps it is cute to call anything with cute nicknames; Like “Elyu” for the surf town La Union. And “Chris” for Christopher. And “Frappe” for Frappuccinos although I’m pretty sure your barista will correct you on that because it’s a coffee law.

I couldn’t stress this enough: It’s Boracay and not Bora.

Photo by Jan Walter Luigi

Sometimes it’s difficult to explain this to friends, but calling it ‘Bora’ has started to be a turn-off for most of the islanders of Boracay. The islanders found it funny at first, but it became annoying.

To situate you first and thanks to wikipedia, Boracay is a small island in the Philippines. It’s 7KM long and 1KM wide. It has been awarded as the 2012 Best Island in the world by the international travel magazine Travel + Leisure. It is nothing but the world’s whitest sand, crystal blue waters, and palm trees. And not to mention the most amazing view of the sunset you will ever see that doesn’t require the slightest Instagram filter.

Photo by Jan Walter Luigi

We call the island Boracay.

Even if foreigners pronounce it differently at times, it is still what it is – Boracay. For islanders, it is not just a vacation spot to go to and get drunk. It is home. It is a being, a friend.

So when we speak of Boracay, we speak of it with love and affection.

Not just the striving business and the daily vacation in paradise, it also took us in when we were searching for ourselves amidst the chaos and demands of the world beyond. And when we ask that you call it Boracay, understand that we want to share something special with you.

Photo by Hannah Sibayan

Please, it’s not ‘Bora’

When we say, “Please not Bora,” we are protecting the island as well. We are trying to hold on to the old Boracay, to the way life was before people started not to care and began littering our beaches – to hold an event and not clean up, to becloud the scenic sunset with ads dictating what we should want.

When we say, “Please not Bora,” we ask that you respect the Island culture. By respecting the name, we say speak the name Boracay the same way we do – with love.

To love the name is to preserve its culture. This can also be the same from another island called Hawai’i. And here, in order to preserve their culture and revive their language, they begin with the name. The Hawaiians don’t say “Hawaiyi.” They pronounce the “w” with a hint of a “v,” and the last “i” is pronounced distinctly. That is their culture. This is ours – Bo-ra-cay, like a child learning the syllables of the waves. If you stop with “Bora,” all you get is “Bora;” you don’t receive all of what Boracay has to offer. Its treasure isn’t the white sand, it’s the whole Island.

Photo by RJ Baculo

And last but not the least,

If you complain about Boracay being overcrowded, littered, etc., you don’t yet know the Island. Try to know it. Then perhaps, as you walk through the long stretch of white sand, you’ll pick up that empty mineral water bottle.

If you work for a company that profits from Boracay, perhaps create projects to conserve it. Notice that there are no recycling bins in every corner. What will a little sponsorship take? Can’t Smart donate recycle bins? It is a better ad placement than the sailboats. Can Shakey’s sponsor a clean-up drive to get rid of the plastics on the beaches? Will Havaianas have a walk in the Boracay forest and teach about the endangered endemic flora and fauna on the island like the Golden Crown Flying Foxes? Plant a tree, plant a reef.

How much will it cost to have a little of Boracay back each day?

So please, not “Bora.” Please call it Boracay.

Source: Trip Advisor | Featured Photo by RJ Baculo


  1. Cindy Gelpi

    Thanks for this beautiful heartfelt and educational post. I’ll never call it Bora again. In Croatia where I am living presently, the “bora” or “bura” is a cold, dry, powerful northeast wind in the Adriatic Sea. It’s interesting how a word can have so many meanings. Thanks again for sharing!

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      Marron Santillan

      Thank you Cindy! Someday I’m going to visit Croatia and I will write how beautiful it is. Soon! Thanks again!

  2. Mayuri

    Okay! I must have been living under the rock as I didn’t know the real name of Bora. I am not going to call Boracay as Bora as it is essential to call the place by its real name. This is such an educational travel post!

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  3. Gerry Ajesta

    Very well said. I am not too much of a fan of shortening words too but I admit that I too has called Boracay, Bora. Guilty as charged. So from now on, I am not going to call it Bora, it’s Boracay. 😄 Thank you for this post.

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      Marron Santillan

      I was also guilty as charged before. But we talked to a local about this when we went there in 2015 so I guess this is just me spreading the word. Thank you, Gerry!

  4. Michele Lee Sefton

    Informative and engaging post. Beautiful photos too. Taking the time to properly say and spell the names of people and places matters. Where I am from, I don’t hold it against people when they mispronounce our popular cactus – the saguaro. It just makes most natives smile and the plant is never offended. 🌵

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      Marron Santillan

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Michele! I looked up the saguaro into google and it looked magnificent and seems like pretty iconic too!

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