The sand is as white as something from a postcard…a pearly glitter that somehow stays cool all day. And the glistening waters are the type of translucent blue you normally only get on a screensaver.
Welcome to Boracay, the Philippines.
This place has stretches of coastline that could put some of the world’s most popular beaches to shame. The tiny bone-shaped Island, south of Manila, is considered by many a local to be the crown jewel of the Philippines. And in a nation of over 7,000 islands, that is saying something.
Boracay is a tourist spot (for locals as well as for foreigners). There’s a resort-town feel, though the island is far from overrun by giant hotels. But a small expat crowd has discovered the delights of living and doing business here.
Martin Hunter is one of them.
Martin lives here now with his wife, Jinky, but life wasn’t always like this. “We had a software company in Sydney,” he says. Things were going quite well until a few years ago, he began to worry as the competition grew.
Martin says the motivational book Who Moved My Cheese inspired him and his wife to think outside the box. The book spoke about welcoming change and it gave them the idea to move to Asia.
“Companies from India were taking over more of the business,” says Martin. ” So we decided if we couldn’t beat them, we would join them.”
So, the couple gave truckloads of their things to charity so they could travel light, planned a trip to Vietnam on the way and made plans to set up a physical office in Jinky’s home city of Manila.
“We hadn’t planned on staying in Boracay…we popped out for a two-week visit from Manila,” says Martin. But within a few days of arriving on the paradise island, they began to question the whole “brick and mortar” thing.
“We realized there was a better option,” recalls Martin. “Why subject ourselves to the confines of the physical office? We could do everything via Skype and the Internet.”
With that, the couple decided they would instead set up “shop” in Boracay.
Hiring locally has produced excellent results, adds Martin. “People here are incredibly well educated, and if they say they worked eight hours, they really have worked that long…the results are there. And the fact that people learn English from day one at school is huge.”
Martin, who is originally from the UK, says many things in his life are now easier than they were. “That’s because it’s a smaller place,” he explains. Martin has gotten to know the locals and he has found that people are relaxed (and not averse to helping a friend out after hours).
“Things here are much more personalized,” he says. “I can pick up the phone and talk to an actual person, someone I know, when I need something done.”
And the lifestyle, Martin says, is ideal. “We gave away all our suits, for one,” he says. “We wake up by about 5.00 a.m. and take a walk along the beach. It’s usually quite empty apart from joggers.”
Sunset finds Martin and Jinky at Shantal’s on White Beach, a little beach bar with lounge chairs for enjoying the “light show” as the sky blazes a million shades of red, orange and purple.
Just another day at the “office” for two IT consultants who say they’ll never see winter again.
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