BORACAY, the Philippines, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- After having been closed for six months for rehabilitation, Philippines' world-renown resort island Boracay is to be reopened to visitors on October 26 amid much anticipation.
Before the famed 4-kilometer white sand beach was filled with tourists and massive infrastructure, it was a small island inhabited by the Atis, an indigenous ethnic community in the Philippines, even before the Spaniards came in the 1520s.
It only began to be known to the world in the 1970's, when a German writer first mentioned it in a book, calling Boracay a "paradise on earth".
Since then, Boracay has caught the world's attention. Its fine white sand, clear water and sunset have attracted approximately two million annual visitors, nearly half of which are foreigners.
"I arrived here when I was nine years old, on a boat. That's when I first saw the beauty of Boracay. Then I told myself, I will stay. For twenty years now, I have been living here and selling dream as a real estate agent," said Elena Brugger, a Filipina businesswoman.
Brugger said that she has been to 45 countries already, but no place has the majesty that Boracay has.
"The island is different. On one side you can see the sunset, on the other side, the moon rise. Nowhere in the world you can find something like that," she explained.
As tourists thronged onto the beaches, so did business owners and infrastructure.
Brugger said that it was good for a few years and then problems emerged such as overdevelopment and pollution.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the closure of Boracay Island for 6-months starting April 26, calling the island a "cesspool" because wastewater was discharged directly to the sea without being treated.
The opening of Boracay this month is much-awaited by tourists, but even more so to the natives and workers who live on the island and live by it.
The natives and workers are all smiles. All they can think about now is what tomorrow can bring -- an opportunity to start anew.
The Philippine government is aiming to bring a better future for Boracay, recreating what it was like 50 years ago, but challenges still exist.
"You can see that the sand and sea are clean, but when you look at the other side, it's a mess. But the problem is not the unfinished roads, it is still the lack of proper management and transparency," Brugger said.