Cases of depression seen to follow Boracay closure

Workers tear down parts of a building that encroached into road easement on the main road of Boracay Island. —NESTOR P. BURGOS JR.

BORACAY ISLAND, AKLAN—A 42-year-old single mother of three has fallen into severe depression after she learned that she would lose her job and home as the government prepared to lock down Boracay for rehabilitation.

The woman, a masseuse, would be jobless once the closure starts on April 26.


She would also lose her house because, she was told, it sat on a wetland.

Magdalena Prado, municipal social welfare and development officer, said the woman’s case was just one of many that officials expected to surface as a result of the resort island’s closure.


Social workers had been helping the woman after she showed signs of severe depression, according to Prado.

She was taken to a sister’s house in mainland Malay town to help her recover, Prado said.

Not an isolated case

Local and national officials were bracing for similar cases as a result of job loss during the closure period.

Rowen Aguirre, municipal executive assistant for Boracay affairs, said the closure would mean the loss of income or employment of at least 36,000 registered and unregistered workers, including employees of hotels and resorts, drivers of public utility vehicles and vendors.

Many of the workers were returning to their hometowns and provinces.

“I have no choice but to go home,” said Julius Ayalin, e-trike driver and native of Passi City in Iloilo province.


P1,000 a day

Ayalin said he came to Boracay more than a year ago because of the higher income.

He earns at least P300 daily driving an e-trike in Passi. For the same job, he earns at least P1,000 a day in Boracay.

Businesses would also suffer losses and small ones were likely to go bankrupt.

In a report to a conference of government agencies with Boracay residents and business operators on Tuesday, Aguirre said mental health problems, crime and violence, and increase in school dropout rates were expected.

Employers and workers had expressed frustration at the lack of a comprehensive and substantial financial aid to those who would be displaced.

But aside from financial aid, Aguirre said people who would suddenly find themselves jobless or without a source of income also needed stress debriefing and counseling.

Stress debriefing

The Department of Tourism (DOT) in Western Visayas had scheduled a two-day stress and anger management session with business owners and operators before April 26.

Helen Catalbas, Western Visayas DOT director, said it would help business operators cope with the closure.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Western Visayas has also started helping residents and workers.

The DSWD had set up a 24/7 center with social workers at the public plaza of Balabag village.

“We have social workers there who are ready to listen and help,” Rebecca Geamala, DSWD Western Visayas director, said in a statement.

The DSWD, she said, was still waiting for a validated list of residents who qualify for aid.

The agency planned to implement a cash-for-work or food-for-work scheme for residents or displaced workers who would be tapped for the rehabilitation program.

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TAGS: Boracay, depression, jobless, rehab
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