Back in 2013, I lived on the island of Boracay here in the Philippines all winter, enjoying the perfect powdery white sand, placid palm trees, and laid-back vibe. Back then, Boracay was still truly an unspoiled paradise. Although there were a LOT more tourists coming in seemingly every week, the beach was still one of the best in the world, and you couldn’t find a piece of trash anywhere. At that time, Boracay also was more of a mellow island where people came to soak up the sun and enjoy nature.
The reason I tell you this (and what it has to do with the Dumaguete Pub Crawl) is that I remember back then, this one hostel started something called the Boracay Pub Crawl. They enlisted cute Filipinas or foreigners to work off their stay at the hostel by passing out flyers to tourists all day, practically begging them to sign up for the event. A pub crawl in Boracay? It all seemed woefully out of place.
Yes, I Started the Dumaguete Pub Crawl!
Fast forward only five years and Boracay has been nearly ruined, an insanely commercial, overrun, trampled and trashed remnant of its former glory. But the pub crawl? That’s literally exploded in popularity. It’s the #1 activity on TripAdvisor for the island that receives about 1.5 million visitors every year, and their Facebook page has something like 200,000 likes. In fact, their signature and highly-recognizable army of yellow shirt-wearing drunkards is out every single night now!
I don’t live in Boracay anymore, but the more chill, authentic, and balanced Dumaguete. (Read all about it here.) We don’t have white sand beaches or 1.5 million tourists, but nor are we overrun and trashed. And while we do have a small lineup of bars and a couple of clubs, the nightlife scene isn’t remarkable at all.
So for that reason, I decided to start up a pub crawl in Dumaguete, too. And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then I flattered the hell out of the Boracay big daddy of bar hopping, as I based my logo off of theirs (mine is way better), used the same bright yellow shirts, and even simply called mine: The Dumaguete Pub Crawl.
No, we don’t have 200,000 people on Facebook – in fact, we only have about 150 at the time being. And instead of going out every night, we’re embarking on our very first soft opening this month. It’s also free (just a social club, as my local attorney advised me) without collecting any charge or making profit at all. Of course, participants do need to pay for their own drinks – albeit at a discount – and they can buy their t-shirts at the printer’s cost.
But that’s kind of the way we want it – small, fun, and relaxed, but still a chance to do something to invigorate the somewhat stale social scene in Dumaguete.
I envision a wonderful mix of expats, visiting tourists, backpackers, Filipino college students, and plenty of other local Dumaguete residents all coming together to meet, greet, get to know each other, smile, and laugh over a few beers.
Who knows? Maybe four years from now, the Dumaguete Pub Crawl will also be on the map and a huge deal? But if that’s the case, it’s all because of the hard work and precedent the Boracay ‘Crawl has established.