ILOILO CITY (PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A Taiwanese tourist was fined 2,500 pesos (S$67) for wearing a bikini in Boracay that one police official said was "literally a string".
Photographs of the skimpily-attired tourist circulated on social media, dividing the island's netizens between those who did not see anything wrong with her sartorial choice and those who cried indecent.
The tourist, in her 20s, was summoned to the Boracay police station after photos of her wearing a two-piece string bikini along the famous white beach of the island circulated on social media.
"Several residents and tourists took photos of her on Wednesday and Thursday because of what she was wearing," Major Jess Baylon, police chief of Malay town which includes Boracay, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
On Wednesday (Oct 9), the tourist wore a white string bikini and the next day, she donned a red one with a similar cut.
"It was literally a string," Major Baylon said.
The social media photos that went viral caught the attention of the The Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group on Wednesday, which directed the island's police force to locate the tourist.
Maj Baylon said they tracked down the tourist to a hotel in Station 1. She and her boyfriend, along with a hotel representative, were taken to the police station on Thursday.
The woman, who wore a dress when she went to the police station, told officers there that she found nothing wrong with her bikini.
The woman, according to Major Baylon, considered it "a form of expression and of feeling comfortable with her body". She also told police that it was what she normally wears back in Taiwan, Major Baylon said.
Several residents of Boracay posted mixed reactions on social media but many, including expatriates, said they found the bikini "indecent".
As the authorities could not find an ordinance prohibiting the wearing of very skimpy swimsuits, the tourist was given a citation ticket and meted the fine based on a provision of an ordinance prohibiting the taking and display of "lewd" photographs.
The Taiwanese couple were scheduled to leave the island on Friday, but will be required to pay the fine first, according to Maj Baylon.
Topless sunbathing, mostly by foreign tourists, was tolerated in Boracay when there were still few tourists and residents on the island - until the early 1990s. A surge in tourist arrivals and residents meant less secluded and private areas for topless sunbathing.