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Panay Roadtrip 2017

13 days on the road - Antique, Iloilo, Guimaras, Capiz and Aklan

View Panay Road Trip on neena329_cab's travel map.

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. :)

Early morning on the beach

Early morning on the beach

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
Hablon weaver

Hablon weaver

Day 4. Batbatan Island and Tobias Fornier
madonna and child

madonna and child

my constant companions

my constant companions

Day 5. Nogas Island
nature's child

nature's child

beach on nogas

beach on nogas

Day 6. Guimaras
vine and cross

vine and cross

salt making

salt making

Day 7. Gigantes island


sand bar

sand bar

Day 8. Se San Beach Resort.
sunset on se san beach

sunset on se san beach

Day 9. Bakhawan Eco Park
bakhawan eco-park

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.”

Posted by neena329_cab 18:43 Archived in Philippines Tagged islands beach vacation island philippines holiday summer sail swim roadtrip easter frangipani panay Comments (0)

Bongao, Tawi-Tawi




Traveling to Tawi-Tawi had been sent to the back burner for years due to news about kidnappings and unrest on that part of the Philippine Archipelago. But this plan resurrected when a friend registered for the 2nd Bongao Ultramarathon. I asked the help of a friend to book my accommodation as I had absolutely no idea of what kind of accommodation they had "out there". :)

The plan was simple:

1. fly to Bongao and go around town to see what's what;
2. support my friend's run;
3. climb Bud Bongao and feed the monkeys; and
4. step on the country's longest sandbar

:) check,check, check and check!!!


My friends and I flew in from Zamboanga to Bongao's Sanga-Sanga airport on the early Cebu Pacific flight to be met by a colorful group of traditional dancers. We arrived in time for the opening of the Tourist Assistance Office located right outside the airport. The mayor himself was there and an Imam offered prayers before the ribbon cutting. What a nice way to start our Bongao Adventure. After a little bit of taking pictures and talking with our guide from Layag Tawi-Tawi Tour Services, we proceeded to our hotel, Rachel's Place Hotel & Restaurant, located right in the center of town.

We were kept busy trying to cram as much experience as we can during our short stay in Bongao. Having engaged the services of Layag Tours made our trip easy to manage and made the most of time we had available to us. I would suggest that if you only have limited time, to do the same thing as we did. Wadz Ali, our guide from Layag Tours was a fount of information and since he was a local, we had an easy time traversing the otherwise thorny landscape that was the community of the Bajau.

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We left our hotel a quarter before 6:00 a.m. to climb Bud Bongao, Tawi-Tawi's prayer mountain and considered to be a must climb for all locals. It has a well-established path up and the 3,000+++ steps are a mix of concrete and stone. The vegetation is lush and at some points the trees form a canopy above the hikers' heads. We bought bananas from the public market the day before so we can have something for the monkeys.

It is said that you are not a true local if you haven't been to the peak of Bud Bongao. It is a tradition for residents to take the new addition to their families up to the peak of Bud Bongao. A lot of locals climb the Bud early in the morning to pray in the shrines located at the peak. They usually bring packed lunch and stay to relax among the trees and on the Rest Area overlooking Bongao town and the waters surrounding the island.

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We had a grand time going around town and taking photographs of places that piqued our interest. Panampangan (purported to the the longest sandbar in the Philippines) was a revelation. I only wished we could have stayed longer to explore. Sadly there is no overnight accommodation available on the island.


At the end of the 2 nights and three days Bongao Trip I accomplished everything I set out to do and learned a lot about Bongao and its people!!! I only wish I could spend more time there. I know that I barely scraped the surface of what Tawi-Tawi has to offer visitors. But this means that I have to make another plan to visit it again. :)



There are no direct flights to Bongao from Manila right now. So from Manila you'll have take a plane to Zamboanga City then take another flight to Bongao. Upon arrival at the Bongao Airport, you can take a tricycle to the town center. Some hotels have airport service but you'll have to pay extra.

On Bongao, I found that riding a tricycle is good enough to get around the town. But if you plan to visit some more interesting places you can either rent a car or jeepney to take you around. Renting a vehicle there is kinda pricey due to the cost of fuel.



Was the trip worth the effort? YES!!!
Would I do it again? YES!!!
Would I recommend it to friends? YES!!!

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Posted by neena329_cab 01:08 Archived in Philippines Tagged food hiking beach sand holiday bar tour climbing fruits traveling roadtrip tribal bongao tawi-tawi Comments (0)

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