Boracay is a small island but one of the most beautiful destinations in the Philippines. The sand is white, the weather is balmy, people walk barefoot on the two-kilometer beach promenade shaded by palm trees. There is a dive shop every fifty meters, and the dive boats have trouble finding a spot to park on the beach.

My first dive this morning was a big wreck at 30m, with several paths below deck that are safe for divers. It’s an interesting experience to float down through the hatches and float through the passages below deck, where people have once worked and schools of fish now seek protection.

Boracay has its darker side too: the road running through the middle of the island is just as congested, noisy, and filled with smog as Manila, only it’s the two-stroke tricycle engines that produce the filthy air. Getting here wasn’t easy either, after a sequence of jeepney and van rides down the coast of Mindoro I found myself on a rust bucket of a ferry for four hours to Caticlan, arriving to late at night to catch a boat to Boracay. So I spent the night in a tiny room with a bricked-up window and a comfort room that allowed no feelings of comfort. “Comfort room” is the local euphemism for bathroom or toilet.