13 days on the road - Antique, Iloilo, Guimaras, Capiz and Aklan
06.04.2017 - 18.04.2017
Exploring Panay Island.
In 2017 my friends and I decided to drive around Panay Island to explore some of the beautiful places in the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, and Iloilo. It took us 13 days to drive from Manila and back (taking our van to Panay via 2Go roll-on-roll-off). A drive that seems to be guided by a higher being as we never experienced any kind of car trouble or any untoward incident.
This trip was a revelation to me! I have been to all of these provinces on business and never strayed far from the cities and big towns. Always flying in and flying out... Never having any idea of the beauty that awaits just outside of the city limits.
Day 1. Manila to Batangas and on to Caticlan by RoRo.
We left Manila at 10 am, and drove to Batangas Pier. The drive took us 3 hours because we had to meet up with a couple of travel buddies on the way, have a slow lunch and buy some supplies for the trip. Loading the van into the 2Go roll-on-roll-off (RORO) ferry at 9pm and sailing off to Caticlan Port in Aklan took 9 hrs. The fee for the van included the ticket and meal for our driver so that saved us some money. We took a cabin so we can rest and take showers before debarkation as Day 2 will start in earnest as soon as we all got off the RORO.
To pass the time while waiting for boarding call passengers may want to get a massage or a mani/pedi which my travel buddies did. I settled for people watching and talking to fellow passengers.
Day 2. Pandan Antique, Bugang River Naranjo Resort, Mararison Island
Our departure from Caticlan Pier was delayed due to the fact that the pier was too crowded. it took sometime for our ferry to get a berth so we had to wait for 1.5hrs. before we finally touched the ground of Panay. We had a quick breakfast and proceeded to drive to our first destination, Bugang River. We took a short raft ride to see the clean waters of the river and the interesting flora that lined its banks. We had lunch at Naranjo's Resort which was the jump off point for our river trip. This also gave us our first glimpse of the warm and friendly nature of the locals of Antique. A local family happened to be having their family outing at the resort and when they learned that we just got off the ferry and were about to take our lunch at Naranjo's, they gave us one humongous grilled fish and shared their barbecued pork with us.
After lunch we drove on to Culasi so we can leave our vehicle and hop on the boat for Mararison Island. We stayed on the family owned resort named Enrique de Mararison which occupies a rather spectacular stretch of beach frontage. sunset and sunrise are equally beautiful sights on Mararison. You can also take an early morning hike up the hills at the back of the resort if you want to walk off the extra calories.
The days following DAY 2 seemed to flow together as we took all kinds of vehicles to take us around the rest of Panay. Days 10 to 13 has nothing much to offer as Jawili Falls was a huge disappointment. There have been scads and scads written about Boracay so I am not going to waste your time with my blurb. Suffice to say that Boracay without electricity supply was hell on earth!!!
Day 3. Kawa-kawa, Tibiao
Day 4. Batbatan Island and Tobias Fornier
Day 5. Nogas Island
Day 6. Guimaras
Day 7. Gigantes island
Day 8. Se San Beach Resort.
Day 9. Bakhawan Eco Park
Day 10. Jawili Falls Tangalan, Ibajay
Day 11 and 12. Boracay.
Day 13. Travel back to Manila
Traveling back to Manila was completely reversing the drive out.
Will I do it again? YES! A big fat YES!!!
There are still a lot of places in Panay Island that remains to be discovered and explored by me. I barely scratched the surface!!!This trip had been one that bears repeating as we barely explored even 1/10th of the beautiful island. I bow to return to experience more of this eastern gem.
This quote (on my photo of the wooden walkway in Bakhawan Eco-Park, Kalibo) from author Cesare Pavese it reflects the entire Panay experience:
“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends.
You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things: air, sleep, dreams, sea, the sky - all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”