“We really thought it wasn’t going to happen. We were told we’d be given a few months, but they only officially announced it three weeks before the shutdown. I cried. Anong gagawin ko, ano sasabihin ko sa mga kliyente ko? Are they all gonna go? What’s gonna happen, right? After all that crying, of course, you have to pick up the pieces and you have to be strong and you move forward. And that’s what I did,” says wedding planner Amanda Tirol of Boracay Weddings, now known as Events By Amanda Tirol, remembering the days leading up to Boracay’s shutdown on April 26, 2018.
Amanda’s love affair with arguably the country’s most exquisite island started in 2002, when she tied the knot with Bong in a fairytale wedding. With her husband’s family having roots in Boracay and Bong working for the one of the island’s prestigious resorts, it wasn’t far fetched for Amanda to eventually settle there.
The same goes with Boracay Weddings. After Amanda’s wedding, a cousin’s friend asked her to help plan his. Before that event was over, another inquiry came in. Living in Manila then and managing her preschool, Amanda would fly back and forth to Boracay until the business grew and she finally moved there for good.
“Up to now I’m sure we make mistakes. But when we do, we apologize and we own up to our mistakes.”
“This is what I love to do,” Amanda muses, looking back at a decade and a half, shifting her career for an opportunity that was ready for the taking. She dove right in without any prior knowledge but her own experiences and her knack for planning, her attention to detail, and her well of patience. She’s found fulfillment in other people’s happily ever afters, admitting that to this day, the genuine outpouring of love that resonates in the couples’ vows or even their video presentations still makes her tear up.
The dedication she, and her loyal team that’s been with her from the beginning, springs from and strives for simply that—her clients’ happiness. “That’s what’s exciting about what we do, because no matter how stressful, at the end of the day, 'pag masaya kliyente [ko,] ang saya saya ko na.”
So, having to deal with the loss that came with the shutdown proved to be a major hurdle for Boracay Weddings. She lost half of her clients who feared the uncertainties of the government’s decision, while she and her team hastened to move the other half’s weddings to other destinations and managed on pinning down new dates for those who still prefer to be wed in Boracay. One wedding hit right smack on the shutdown that Amanda only had a day to move the entire event to Cebu.
It’s the kind of challenge that opened up a cross road for Amanda’s team. Being branded by her clients as the authority in planning the best wedding experiences in Boracay, which is undoubtedly the most famous wedding destination in the Philippines, and continuously working hard to meet that image, what will be of Boracay Weddings in such precarious times?
But Amanda isn’t the type to just throw in the towel in the face of adversity. If she was, her events wouldn’t be the successes that they are. For in every wedding she managed, challenges are among the main ingredients. And working around them and finding solutions for each one are the fuel to the event’s success.
“We’re not perfect, we make mistakes. Up to now I’m sure we make mistakes. But when we do, we apologize and we own up to our mistakes. I always try to have a solution to everything. I never come up to a client with a problem. If there is something, I come up with a solution or suggestions on how to move forward,” answers Amanda.
“We changed the name to Events By Amanda Tirol because we’re doing events elsewhere, but we’ll always be Boracay Weddings. Because that’s my home. And it’s always fun in Boracay.”
Taking advantage of the few weddings she did outside the island and the country, and a client’s suggestion to change her company’s name, Amanda took the opportunity to rebrand and expand the business outside of the picturesque white beach. Events By Amanda Tirol was born.
However, Boracay still beckons. Knowing the island like the back of her hand and building a life there with her own family, along with her husband and three children, events in other destinations just wouldn’t be the same.
“We changed the name to Events By Amanda Tirol because we’re doing events elsewhere, but we’ll always be Boracay Weddings. Because that’s my home. And it’s always fun in Boracay. Clients ask me, ‘Why do you recommend Boracay?’ I’ve done weddings in other places, but in Boracay, everything’s within reach, it’s so close. If I’m on a budget, I don’t have to stay further away. If you’re in Shangri-La I can stay somewhere close and you’re still very accessible. Puwede akong kumain ng murang pagkain. It’s easy to go to. I can fly via Caticlan, Kalibo, Ilo-ilo, or I can take a boat. There’s so many options, it’s not just for the rich or who can afford lang. Even if hindi mo masyado ma-afford, puwede ka mag-wedding sa Boracay.”
“You have to cope. Pag may kailangan gawin, you really have to do it.”
She never tires of the island that she herself got married thrice there. The second was Bong’s surprise celebration for their 10th wedding anniversary, and the third was their renewal of vows for their 15th year of marriage.
She had the chance to relive what she loves most about Boracay—the charming scene and the celebration of love through picturesque weddings.
And with her growing list of impressive brides and grooms within and outside of Boracay, such as Martine Cajucom and Cliff Ho, Iza Calzado and Ben Wintle, Maxene Magalona and Rob Mananquil, and Bangs Garcia and Lloyd Birchmore, to name a few, she assures that she brings in the same attention to detail to their weddings as if they’re her own. And with years of experience under her belt, her hardworking team and her sensibility, she commands the very word that is vital in her industry: trust.
Whether she’s working here or abroad, in the white sands of her home island or at beaches elsewhere, she has Boracay to thank for giving her not just a place to root in but also a field to thrive in. Even with the challenges she's faced there, it has always been for the better. “You have to cope. 'Pag may kailangan gawin, you really have to do it. Even if nakatatakot, you adjust. You have to learn from your mistakes and then change later on.”
SHOOT COORDINATION: Ysabel Yuzon, Charlene Owen
PHOTOGRAPHY: Mark Francis Jesalva
ART DIRECTION: Jico Joson
HAIR AND MAKEUP: Elaine Ganuelas
SHOOT LOCATION: Commune Makati