One of the main reasons I decided on New Years Eve on the Filipino island of Boracay was to meet my best friend Josh and his wife, Christine. They had been traveling islands in the Philippines for a few weeks with her family & friends (who happen to be Filipino). Our reunion began in the afternoon of December 31st and promised to lead to a fun-filled week of reminiscing and making new memories.
We grabbed my bags from the hostel and dropped them off at our hotel before wandering down to the beach. Christine’s brother Adrian joined us as we caught up while strolling through my mini island tour. The main event was tonight and we quickly went back to the hotel to change for New Years Eve dinner!
We dressed in slightly above “beach attire” and went to the White House Hotel to check out the buffet and drinks. There I was introduced to Tito Francis, Tito Rei, Tita Susan and Tita Anali. They were highschool friend’s of Christine’s parents (Nancy & Rudy) who still lived in the Philippines. Lucky for me that meant I was sure to get the authentic Filipino experience!
White House Hotel and the other resorts we visited were managed and owned by their old friends so we got VIP treatment. Or perhaps it was just that they spoke Tagalog so the waitstaff didn’t inflate prices for us white-folk. But enough of that, lets skip ahead to what we’ve all been waiting for. FOOD!
The bufffet was headlined by lechon and it looked delicious! Lechon is a Filipino delicacy that essentially is a roasted pig. It goes on a massive spit and rotates over the fire for hours. I was lucky enough to snap a picture of it before they started carving! If you were fortunate enough to get a crispy piece with some skin there was a flavorful layer of fat before biting into the juicy meat. Make sure you try the traditional sauce if you get to eat lechon.
We also had lengua(cow tongue) with an olive tapanade, massive stuffed prawns, Filipino crabs, and more. It was my first time trying lengua which was very tender and full of flavors but then again I do love anything with olives! My favorite dish was the stuffed prawns, possibly the biggest shrimp I’ve ever had and most certainly the freshest. Each prawns exploded with flavor as the spices and breadcrumbs paved a path for the tender meat to melt in my mouth.
I sampled the roast beef, rotisserie chicken and turkey enjoying a taste of home but lavished more readily in the native delicacies. Tuna Kinilaw was a salad with mostly raw tuna; they sprinkled a citrus sauce which added to the flavor of this beautiful sushi. I enjoyed noodle dishes, oysters, fresh fruit and assorted delicate desserts. My favorite was a creme brulee that overshadowed the popular flan beside it. My Filipino friends preferred the flan but everyone enjoyed the meal paired with some great beer. As we finished eating the rain’s intensity grew from its earlier drizzle.
The hour drew near with our now stuffed stomachs and the dull roar of rain on our tent above when we started noticing some locals heading into the dark blue water. There were small towers a few meters out and we couldn’t decide if they just getting a better view for the fireworks or was that the firework station? Debating the issue we decided it didn’t matter much because no one wanted to venture into the downpour so we stayed under our tents.
Moments later the sky erupted with colors in a beautiful firework display! Those stations were in fact base camps for the fireworks. For the next hour and half offshore fireworks captured our attention.
The rain continued coming down heavier and heavier as the finale loomed nearer. Colorful lights exploded throughout the sky and refracted through droplets of water in a spectacular show. Perhaps it was the sheer excitement of the evening, or maybe the beer but by midnight we didn’t even care about the rain and were dancing along the beach. Some of the more foolhardy tourists dove into the ocean in full garb! I took a more conservative approach staying on the beach but I’m not sure that kept me any drier.
By the end of the evening it made no difference if we were under the tents or in the ocean. The downpour drenched everyone while the fireworks danced above. We all enjoyed the wonderful display before retiring to our bunks just before the sun began to rise on the magical island of Boracay!