Elena BruggerBoracay resident and advocate, Elena Brugger

Elena Brugger

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When in Boracay, mention the name Mrs. Brugger to a local, and you would either elicit a sweet smile or a funny look of apprehension. The smiles may be roused by her being one of Boracay’s prettiest ladies—brown skinned with perfectly toned muscles, gained from her years of being a golfer, runner and paddler, not to mention her dabbling into many other kinds of sports. She is also involved in the preservation of Boracay, being Mayor John Yap’s environmental consultant. Better be earth-friendly, if you don’t want to assume a funny look of apprehension when hearing her name. 

You are known all throughout Boracay as the lady who advocates sustainability and preservation of the beach, and a passionate advocate at that. What were you involved in before serving as Mayor John Yap’s environmental consultant? How did you end up campaigning for Boracay’s preservation now?

I was one of the founding member and the Corporate Secretary  of BCCI ( Boracay Chamber of Commerce and Industry,Inc) which is known now as PCCI-Boracay ( Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Boracay)..year 2003-2004. Environmental Committee Co-Chairperson. Getting invloved and strive the best to help LGU-Malay together with other NGO’s in Boracay together with CIDA ( Canadian International Development Agency)   Boracay Eco-Educational Campaign and Material Recovery Facility Project  to have the first project of PCCI-Boracay- The Solid Waste Management Program and it was fully supported by DOT ( Dept.of Tourism and Industry) and Local Government agencies.

I was able to get involved and attended the International Coastal Management program held in Boracay and sponsored by World Bank ,2004. I was sent by the Chamber to UNESCO conference titled “How Boracay Can Adapt to Climate Change,” 2009.

I am involved and campaigning for Boracay’s preservation because this is our home and I love Boracay. This is the attitude ,gesture and will do my responsibilty as a resident and citizen of our country. Boracay’s powdery sand show me the world that this is the gift of Mother Nature. We  strive our best to continue our advocacy and preserve what we have.

Among all the environmental projects you have initiated for the island, which do you think is the most urgent and deserves the most immediate support from locals or from the national government? What kind of support does this project need?

The rehabilatation of our white beach area, to implement the municipal ordinances that are existing and have the monitoring team to check in a daily basis and to penalized those who violated the said laws.

In what aspect of your environmental campaigns have you faced the most challenges? Is it in terms of policy such as the funding from the local/national government, or putting in synch the growth of Boracay businesses with the sustainability plans of the local government? Or in terms of having people—both locals and tourists—participate?

The Rehabilatation of White Beach front and Bulabog requires the planting of more trees to protect from beach erosion. We need to plant the native trees that grows in the white sand like coconut trees and star trees or the Talisay trees. Our corals are mostly gone due to boat anchor damage for decades and due to human intervention and climate change.There are some establishments encroaching the beach area within the zone of 25 meters. The biggest challenge is the flooding during rainy season. It needs an urgent implementation of the project and let all the local resident be connected to the sewerage system and not only the business sector. To respect respect the existinf laws and so as to protect the white sand.

Paddling is a rather general term used for various kinds of water sports. In your case, as a member of Boracay Bumshells, you are a paddler for dragon boat racing. Since when have you been a member of Boracay Bumshells and what competitions have you participated into and won as a member of this team?

I have been paddling for 11 years and I am one of the pioneer women paddler in the island. The Bumshells are now four years old. We won several medals here and abroad. The latest one is a gold for 250 meters and  a silver for 500 meters at the Sixth Boracay International Dragon boat Festival.

What has been your most memorable competition as a member of the Boracay Bumshells and why?

The most memorable competition as a part of the team Bumshells was in Penang,Malaysia.  We competed with the Thailand National team and some Navy team from Penang, Malaysia. We won silver. We went there to have fun. But on that moment when we were on the dragon boat, we also thought of our country Philippines, that we should win this for the glory of our counrty and for Boracay. We did our best. It was a wonderful moment indeed.

What are your next paddling competitions? How do you prepare for these competitions?

We will go to five provinces of China. We are continue our exercises every morning and practice paddling. 

What makes dragon boat racing unique from other paddling  and beach sports?

It is a unique sports in its ability to attract a broad demographic of members with varrying cultural and occupational backgrounds, as well as varying degrees of age and fitness. It is also unique because of the teamwork needed to propel the boat. 

How are Filipino dragon boat racers faring at international competitions? If support is needed, what kind and from whom?

We need support from both national and local government. 

We have noticed quite a number of runners training at White Beach all throughout the day. At the same time, there is a rising number of beaches all over the country hosting aquathlons. These are helpful not only for tourism but for promoting various advocacies as well. What beach and water sports competitions has Boracay been staging?

Wind surfing, kite boarding, and the yaching competition from Subic to Boracay  and of course and the highlight of all water sports in Boracay and most attended is the Boracay International Dragon Boat Festival. 

In so many interviews, you have time and again stressed your love and commitment to Boracay. You could have taken your cause to other beaches in the Philippines. Why Boracay?

Boracay is my home and I owe so much for this gift of nature. The world comes to Boracay. You meet many interesting people from different countries.  Boracay is a unique and charming island  and I am so lucky to live here and be a part of the positive change.

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