MANILA, Philippines – Caticlan is famous for being the gateway to the world-class, white sand beaches of Boracay.
It was not my destination for this trip, though; instead, I took the road less traveled and headed to the province of Antique.
Antique is said to be the home of scary folkloric characters like the aswang, manananggal and mambabarang (characters that The Sandman series creator Neil Gaiman loves about the Philippines).
But my first glimpse of the province was nowhere near those scary tales or the way it has been depicted in Filipino horror movies.
Lush landscapes greeted us as we embarked on a journey to discover Antique’s tourism potentials.
Here are the destinations in Antique that are worth visiting:
1) Malumpati Cold Spring
Located in the village of Guia in Pandan, this is where locals — including kids — take a breather every weekend. The natural spring that comes from Malumpati flows to the Bugang River, which is the Philippines’ cleanest inland body of water according to a local tourism officer who was there with us.
The turquoise waters of Malumpati is an inviting sight, with the entrance fee an affordable Php 10.00. Families and friends can feast on a picnic lunch at the huts near the natural pool.
2) Malalison Island
Its name may sound complicated, but Malalison Island shouldn’t be missed when visiting Antique. This hook-shaped 55-hectare village island can easily be accessed through an 18-minute pump boat ride from the Municipality of Culasi.
Untouched by commercialization, Malalison Island has the longest sandbar among the 3 island villages of Culasi. It is perfect for those who want to seek solitude.
There’s no electricity on the island; only a generator gives power to the 120 households in the island, from 6am to 9pm.
Getting to know the locals is one of the best experiences the island offers. The village’s chief, Kap. Mario Fuenteblanca, told us about German and Korean backpackers who stayed with the locals of the island for a week.
Opting to stay in the home of locals will cost only Php 150 per night.
You also have the option to pitch a tent and camp out in the white sand shore of the island, or stay at the Multipurpose Hall for only Php 60 per head/night.
3) Tibiao’s Bugtong-Bato Falls
Our country is so rich with stunning waterfalls hidden deep in our forests.
In Tibiao, Antique, we discovered the Bugtong-Bato Waterfalls, a must-visit for adventure enthusiasts. The 7-tier falls is tucked in the quiet village of Tuno in Tibiao.
Out of the 7 tiers, only 3 are accessible.
Getting to the falls is an adventure in itself. One has to endure the hike for an hour or two under the heat of the sun. Nonetheless, it pays to walk amid the farmlands. The simple ways of the people are truly humbling.
A dip in the first tier of the falls is rewarding enough, but the adventure doesn’t stop there. You have to reach the 2nd and 3rd tiers to get the full experience of Bugtong Bato. It would require you to pull yourself up with a rope tied to the rocks.
The trek to Bugtong Bato Falls would cost you Php 100/head as the local guide’s fee. Tourism in Brgy. Tuno is a community effort where the barangay tanods serve as tour guides to visitors.
4) Tibiao River
If hiking is not your thing, you can still enjoy Tibiao by kayaking leisurely through the white water rapids of Tibiao River.
The rapids here are mild and manageable. A whole day of kayaking would cost you Php 600.00.
5) Kawa Hot Bath
After your jampacked activities, you may want to end the day by relaxing in a kawa hot bath in Brgy. Tuno in Tibiao.
The kawa is an enormous cookware originally used by Antiqueños for cooking muscovado (unrefined sugar). It was the Kayak Inn’s Australian owner (Greg) who saw the tourism potential of a hot bath in it.
The kawa is filled with water, which is then heated by firewood underneath it. When the water has boiled, the guest may then step inside the kawa to relax the muscles.
Herbs can be added into the water. The hot bath costs Php 350.00.
Only those who dare seek adventure in the road less traveled are rewarded with an unforgettable experience. Antique has a lot of treasures waiting to be discovered. – Rappler.com
Follow the author’s adventures at http://www.tripadora.com.