Boracay and its island history
Boracay was once a well reserved and less known island decades ago. As history has it, its past is untold until the 1970. However, for the truth to be told, it was indeed one private island a long time ago inhabited by few natives called “Aeta”, some local islanders, and one family who settled in the island in the early 1800.
One family, a Judge in Buruanga by the name of Lamberto Hontiveros Tirol along with his wife Sofia Ner Gonzales settled in the island and engaged in cultivation of coconut trees and tobacco planting in Boracay. Lamberto H. Tirol after pursuing his studies in San Juan de Letran in Manila later on married a very young chinese meztisa Spanish-speaking lady named Sofia, daughter of the very first physician and surgeon of Panay Island Dr. Cipriano G. Gonzales and Florentina Q. Ner. Lamberto was once a Political Figure in Aklan and became Mayor for several terms. He later on was appointed as Municipal Judge of Buruanga, Capiz. They were considered as among the original settlers of Boracay Island, who peacefully and simply lived among the natives and islanders. Fishing was the main livelihood of Boracay. The couple however created one paradise island out of it. While it was Lamberto who invested on seedlings, it was Sofia along with a native by the name of "Orang" who engaged in cultivation and agriculture. Copra and Tobacco trading then became the island's second source of income of the islanders.
The names Lamberto Tirol and Sofia Ner Gonzales can never be forgotten. It was through their private conversation overheard by an islander why the island got its name "Boracay". No less than the natives themselves said that as far in time as their memory as one of the original settlers and natives of Malay and Buruanga, the island which is now known as “Boracay” had no name before until a couple blurted out of their personal conversation about the froath and foam of the oceans of boracay. Malay was a part of Buruanga or was only a barrio or barangay of the municipality of Buruanga, and people merely called the place “Ro Isla it Buruanga”. The name “Boracay” was first given to a very tiny island off the northern tip of the “Isla” by a native upon hearing conversation between a couple, now known to be the Father and Greener of the island of Boracay - Lamberto and Sofia. Folks have it told that many years ago, the couple came to settle at the northern coast of the “Isla” now known as Yapak, as Yapak was a barrio discovered by Lamberto himself, to engage in planting and selling tobacco leaves as their means of livelihood. One day an islander was approaching the couple when he overheard a conversation between the couple at their dwelling. Lamberto was at the beach or in the beach water as he observed thick froath being washed ashore by the waves that clased between the tiny island and the “Isla” agitated by the Amihan wind. Observing this thick froath, he called out to Sofia and said “Acay, hanggod ka bora, Acay,” which when translated can mean: “Darling, there’s plenty of froath, Darling.” Perhaps this is the origin of Boracay, derived from “Bora.Acay”.
And that name stuck for the tiny island. Much later, the name was given to the bigger island instead of calling it “Ro Isla it Buruanga.” The humble abode of the couple and their family. They had nine (9) but two girls died during infancy (Elsie Edna, Rizalina, Racel, Sol, Josel, Demosthenes, Haide, Belen+ and Florentina+) in Buruanga (now Malay) was just a piece of lot in the island, until some islanders sold their lots to the family. The rest of the islanders followed suit. The family soon realized that they owned a relatively large portion of the island, and provided more than enough not only for the family but also for the few settlers of the island - because of their generosity and kind hearts they were fondly called "Don Lamberto and Dona Sofing".
Some landed islanders likewise sold some of their lots to other Tirol Clan other than to Lamberto and Sofia: Ciriaco Seneres Tirol and Roberto "Nono" Hontiveros Tirol. Upon the counsel of Lamberto's nephew, Josefino Santa Maria Tirol (son of Gregorio Tirol and Maria Santa Maria, brother of Lamberto), their land in the island was brought under the Torrens System through the Ordinary Land Registration Proceedings. It was told that, to finance the titling process, Sofia had to sell the engagement ring Lamberto gave her, a large diamond ring. The couple also had mining and fishery in Makato and a portion in Buruanga as records of government offices in Aklan would reveal. Sofia became a young widow when Lamberto met his Maker in 1924. She was left to tend to their seven (7) Children. It was told that she wept for her beloved half's untimely demise until her death. Despite the sadness and sorrow, she spent all her days in Boracay, nurturing the island as it is one of Lamberto's remembrance - a labor of love.
The young widow Sofia, better known as "Sofing" continued working and manning the island, with the help of few islanders worthy of her trust including her trusted friend "Orang" Sacapano also an islander and good friend of Sofing and Lamberto.
Sofia was known to be stern, business-minded, strict and brave but with a kind and generous heart. Although thrifty, she always was after the welfare of her neighbors. Life was simple and abundant for Sofia and the children. At times, it became difficult most especially so when it falls on the times to pay realty taxes over Boracay and other properties she owned. But she was able to survive it all. She earned through Copra and Tobacco sales, goods which she herself produced in the island with the help of her workers and tenants. Hiking was nothing for the Dona. She would walk to and from the island in order to earn her keep.She spend most of her days in the island, and when the time came for her to rest and retire, she had to stay in Kalibo with Araceli. She died at the age of 110.
Boracay's fame came belatedly, when Sofia was too old to realize and appreciate the fruits of her labor. One time, a group of foreigners came to the island with the intention to shoot a film. It was only then that Boracay became open to the world. It was also that time that the commercialization of the island began. But the island is still as it is - an Island Paradise. It was through the very hands of Lamberto and Sofia that Boracay flourished into one of nature's magnificent creations. Boracay despite its numerous acclamations and recognitions worldwide, has perils and controversies. If Sofia Ner Gonzales, her husband Lamberto Hontiveros Tirol and Orang Sacapano and the rest of their neighbors were alive today they would have wanted the island to stay as it was, with millions of trees resting peacefully and happily on white sugar coated sands of the island, with few sojourners watching the calm and serene blue ocean touching the bluest island skies. It is very well worth our while to get to know the island's caretaker, Dona Sofia, who was known as the Greener of Boracay.