Project description

Rappler looked closely on the decision of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to shut down world famous Boracay Island for 6 months starting April 26, 2018 – from the inside story on how he arrived at the decision, the possibility of building a casino, and the impact of the closure on tourism, local livelihood, and the country’s economy.

What makes this project innovative?

To dissect the issue, the “Boracay: Paradise Reborn?” microsite compiled our multimedia reports on the closure. We gathered data and produced content on the island’s carrying capacity, the rise of tourism in the country despite the closure, and its impact on revenue generation. We visualized the data through easy-to-understand charts. To humanize the issue, Rappler went multiple times to Boracay to feature the affected residents and businesses, created by the massive unemployment and displacement brought by the closure.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

Rappler targetted to inform policy and government pronouncements on the lack of a master plan for the 6-month shutdown of the island with our reportage. What stood out from the package was the fact-check piece we did after President Rodrigo Duterte denied that he knew nothing about the $500-million casino project in Boracay. Rappler traced presidential photos where Duterte was seen meeting with the officials of the Macau-based casino firm Galaxy Entertainment. When the report went out, Duterte in succeeding briefings denied he wanted the casino to be built, and then made a verbal directive to not allow any casinos to operate the island. Before Boracay reopened in October, the government revoked the franchise of casinos in the island.

Source and methodology

Rappler acquired data from different government sources such as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Tourism, and the Philippine Statistics Authority. We used data cleaning applications to come up with a better database of information. These allowed us to visualize the carrying capacity of Boracay for tourists, residents, and waste generation. Similarly, the same process was done to show foreign tourist arrivals in the Philippines.

Technologies Used

Rappler used Google Refine and Microsoft Excel to clean the data, and used Datawrapper and Google MyMaps to visualize it into charts and maps.

Project members

Reporting by Aika Rey, Ralf Rivas, Pia Ranada Editing by Paterno Esmaquel II, Jee Y. Geronimo, Chay Hofileña Photos and Videos by Angie de Silva and Adrian Portugal Design by Patrick Santos


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