Broken toe on Boracay & the Cleveland connection

Ellen's broken toe on Boracay happened near Willy's Rock.

Last Updated on June 8, 2023 by Ellen

So. I broke my toe. Rather, an excited little boy broke it.

He was so excited because I took him and his family from Mainland Malay to Boracay Island for a day trip. In his happiness, he jumped in shallow water — and landed squarely on the fourth toe of my left foot.

I knew it was broken the moment he landed. It was flapping in the water. And damn! It hurt!

Walking on White Beach sand with a broken toe is a form of torture. But I did it.

We went from Station 1 to Diniwid, where I collapsed (figuratively) at a restaurant I’d planned to take the family to for a nice mid-afternoon meal.

I insisted the family return to White Beach to enjoy a beautiful sunset and take a sailboat ride back to the mainland at dusk.

Accidents happen – and when they happen outside of the United States of America, I turn to local doctors and medical facilities.

A man on a motorcycle gave me a ride up Diniwid Hill on Boracay to AMC – a medical clinic for emergencies on Boracay.

Broken toe on Boracay, medical round 1

Outside the AMC clinic on Boracay Island in the Philippines.

The nurse at AMC took my vitals, I filled out a form of consent for an X-ray, I paid $22 at the cashier window (1,200 pesos), and had digital X-rays done in minutes.

The doctor took one look and confirmed: yes, my toe is broken. She advised getting to Kalibo, Aklan’s provincial capital, to see an orthopedic surgeon as soon as possible because of the way it is broken.

The doc and nurse made a makeshift boot for me to get back to the mainland.

I was at AMC for less than 45 minutes, and then on an electric trike (taxi) to the port, where the port officers loaded me into a wheelchair (!) for the long walk to the ferry back to the mainland. The clinic emailed me the digital images.

Now, just imagine the process for an initial confirmation of a broken bone in the USA. It would take hours, likely in an emergency room, and would cost…? A ridiculous amount, to be sure.

I spent the next day with my foot raised, and did light chores on one leg.

I called and emailed two hospitals and one medical clinic in Kalibo to see about an appointment for a consultation.

Ellen's broken toe, with bug bites.

(Note, the bumps on my foot and the broken toe are bug bites – I am always covered in ant, no-see-um, and mosquito bites.)

Broken toe saga, medical round 2

During my calls to Kalibo, MMG Clinic patched me through to an orthopedic surgeon’s secretary, who gave me the doctor’s cell phone number (!).

After a thorough phone consultation, Dr. Onie Macavinta said he would review the digital X-rays if I sent them to him via Facebook Messenger (!).

Now, just imagine that happening in the USA!? Uh uh. Another reason to love the Philippines.

Dr. Macavinta texted me back and said it didn’t look great, and he would see me the following morning at 11:00 am.

I arrived a tad early at MMG (a 1.5 hour ride in a shared van) and was taken in right away after temperature and health checks. The doctor was early, too.

“I looked at your profile, hope that’s ok,” he said. He knew I was a breast cancer warrior, and had lots of questions about my condition.

He ordered another set of X-rays, and reviewed them right away.

Surgery is optional. The bone is broken splintered, and surgery would break it all the way through to reset it.

The other option: don’t use my foot for anything for at least four weeks. Might take up to eight weeks to fully heal. The only catch with this option is that if I’m not careful, it could break all the way and cause a lot of pain.

I’ll skip the surgery, thanks. He agreed this was a good choice. But stressed I must be careful.

So the good doctor made a splint with wood and gauze and tape right on his leg in his office (!).

Doctor wraps Ellen's broken toe with a splint in his office.

He gave me instructions for its care, and told me to walk when I have to, and drag my foot along – don’t bend the toes.

Everything cost under $40.

The Cleveland Connection

Kalibo is not exactly a big city — 89,127 people, according to the 2020 Philippine census. But guess where Dr. Macavinta’s son works? The Cleveland Clinic! He’s an internal medicine doctor back in Ohio.

And, Dr. Macavinta just returned from a visit to his son and his wife, and his adorable (!) granddaughter. He showed me pictures of the baby in snow!

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He asked where we lived, and I told him a bit about my Cleveland experience, how I lived there for so many years, how my husband is from there, and our house is there. How we use our tenant’s rent to help fund our budget travel.

Small world, indeed!

Ellen and Dr. Onie Macavinta in his office at MMG Clinic in Kalibo, Aklan, Philippines.

Travel plans…

So. Our travel plans.

If I can’t walk from a port to a ferry dock, I probably can’t walk in airports, on Bangkok city streets and train platforms.

Yes, we had been planning to go to Bangkok for one month by mid-April.

Irony: I was going to propose to Theo that we book a flight to Bangkok, Thailand the night I got back from Boracay. The flight was priced right, and timed right. Well, timed right before the busted toe.

Now? I dunno. It’s still three weeks away to that April 9 flight as I write this, which is almost four weeks… so I’ll almost be healed… but in all honesty, we will probably stay in Malay a bit longer.


Another ironic point: March 16 was our two-year anniversary of staying in Motag, Malay, Aklan, Philippines. It’s been a bloody long pandemic travel pause.

As Mom Diane pointed out, maybe God wants us to stay longer.

Yea, that thought crossed my mind.

God has a sense of humor, indeed!

A boy jumps into the water from the steps at Willy's Rock on Boracay Island in the Philippines.

Thanks for reading, “Broken toe on Boracay & the Cleveland connection.”

Note: Ellen has had other good experiences at MMG Clinic in Kalibo, and highly recommends the facility. Read more >>

Reminder: this is an independent blog. We get nothing in return for rave reviews.

4 thoughts on “Broken toe on Boracay & the Cleveland connection”

  1. Bites from sand fleas, mosquitos and no-see-ums can be avoided by drinking Apple cider vinegar twice a day on an empty stomach. We take 1 tablespoon morning and night mixed with green juice or some Kombucha. The sand fleas don’t like the taste or smell of the vinegar.

  2. Hi Ellen
    Glad you were able to get help that fast. Just take care of yourself and remember, there is a reason for everything. Sending you lots of love ❤️

  3. Oh Ellie! Nothing is easy! 😟 Glad you were taken care of and yes, accidents happen. I think mom Diane is right and you’re needed to stay a while longer.

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