You’ll Need More Than a Week to Explore All That Antique Has to Offer

Back in the day, people used to connect the province of Antique to supernatural creatures and events brought about by folklore and myths. I have already visited this Western Visayan province twice, though, and I have come to prove that it is a real traveler’s gem in endless ways. It showcases mesmerizing panoramic views, both heart-pumping and laidback activities, impressive local cuisine, rich culture and heritage, and ever-hospitable people. I’d gladly go back over and over again.

On my most recent trip, I took a direct flight to Antique via Philippine Airlines. It is an arguably overlooked province, but did you know that even a whole week in Antique wouldn’t be enough to experience all of the adventures that it has to offer?

Here are some of the things you can experience in Antique:

Bantayog ng Wika

Don’t know where to head first? Upon stepping in San Jose, kickstart your Antique adventure by dropping by Bantayog ng Wika for a dose of the province’s heritage. Here, you’ll see a picturesque column where Andres Bonifacio’s famous poem “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Bayan” is etched in Baybayin. The Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino unveiled it in March 2018, and it is said to be the first marker in the country that honors a language. Most importantly, it stands to recognize Kinaray-a, Antique’s native language.

Malandog River

It was literally a breath of fresh air for me to see Malandog River in Hamtic, Antique upclose during the intensely warm weather. In Manila, we don’t get to see rivers with clear turquoise water. More than its awe-striking beauty, though, Malandog River is a place where you will really feel the history of Antique.

General Leandron Fullon National Shrine

You will also find a shrine in Hamtic of Antique’s revolutionary leader, General Leandron Fullon, who fought during the Filipino-American War. When the government was organized, he became and remained as the Provincial Governor of Antique until his death on October 16, 1904. This monument stands in front of the Hamtic Town Hall and was unveiled during Gen. Fullon’s 137th birth anniversary.

Patnongon Ruins

It’s amazing and rare to see old buildings that have stood the test of time. One of the oldest structures in Antique is the Patnongon Church and Convent in Patnongon, which are easy to spot along the road. It was constructed in honor of the town’s patron, St. Augustine. It currently stands as a school named St. Augustine’s Academy.

St. John De Nepomuceno Parish

Wander a few more minutes away from the province’s capital, and you will reach Anini-y, the 4th class municipality of Antique where you can find Anini-y Church. St. John De Nepomuceno Parish is said to be the last standing and preserved colonial church in Antique. If given a chance, climb up their bell tower and check out the nearby island of Nogas, which you’ll be able to see from there.

Seco Island

When in Antique, you definitely shouldn’t miss Seco Island. Although the 2- to 3-hr one-way transit in a boat (which seems to be fishing vessel) can be challenging, the seascape that only this island can offer is all worth it. My heart jumped on our way there as we saw giddy dolphins leaping in the water.

This 4-hectare island is home to a mesmerizing sandbar, a pristine white beach, and surrounding water in all shades of blue. As mentioned, it can be a bit difficult to reach Seco Island, though. To ensure a fuss-free trip like ours, contact Katahum Tours to help you with the arrangements.

Aningalan Highland Strawberry Garden

Yes, there is a strawberry garden in Antique! Tucked in Brgy. Aningalan, San Remigio at 998 meters above sea level, the garden also includes a farm of flowers and vegetables. Because of its inviting cool temperature and scenic layers of mountains around it, the whole experience feels like Sagada or Baguio, but without the crowd. They have a viewing deck, too, where you can sip on hot brewed coffee or munch on a mushroom burger.

Sunset in Aningalan with no filter

This is one of my most favorite places in Antique! Everywhere I look is perfect for Instagram without the need for filters, especially during sunset. It evokes a quiet and serene ambiance anyone will love. They also offer accommodations of three bedrooms ideal for big groups like families. To get here, take a bus from Iloilo City to Sibalom town proper (approximately 2 hours and 30minutes travel). Then, ride a jeepney or a habal-habal to Aningalan Highland Strawberry Garden in San Remigio. There is an environmental fee of P50/person and an entrance fee of P50/person.

Danao Lake

Shot by Potpot Pinili of Travel Trilogy

Not too far from Aningalan Highland Strawberry Garden is Danao Lake. It’s the ideal destination for families and friends who love to be with nature. You can have a picnic in one of the huts nearby or tour the lake on a bamboo raft for rent. There is a quick and easy trek to get there from the main road, but you can also hire a habal-habal or include this in your tour with Katahum Tours.

Igbaclag Cave

Igbaclag Cave is also located in San Remigio, close to the last two spots I just mentioned. The cave’s facade reminds me of the edgy mountains of Rizal. It isn’t difficult to go inside the cave, but it can be challenging to climb to the monolith at the top since the way there is steeper. Unlike most caves I’ve visited, this one’s not wet, slippery, or dark.

Bugtong Bato Falls

Bugtong Bato Falls can be found in Tibiao, another municipality in Antique. It was my second time to visit the falls and I enjoyed it better this time. It’s just a few minutes away from Calawag Mountain Resort and you will need to trek for about 30 minutes to an hour from the jump-off at Barangay Hall of Tuno. You won’t even notice the time, though, because you will find a bunch of entertainment along the trails in the form of carabaos, smiling locals, and rice terraces.

There wasn’t much water during our visit because it was summertime.

The falls has three tiers and you can easily reach them via the provided ropes or steps. On the last level, there is what seems to be a natural pool filled with ice-cold water.

Naranjo Water Park

For fans of water activities, Naranjo Water Park is located at Old Pandan Road, Angeles in Pandan. The top activity you shouldn’t miss is the river cruise along the 6-km long Bugang River, which is recognized as the Philippines’ cleanest waters. You can also enjoy stand-up paddle boats, pedal boats, kayaks, and kawa baths here.

Dioso Farm

If you’ve had enough of the thrills and treks and want to cool down; Dioso Farm in Pandan, Antique is the place to be. They have a 2-story hut where you can just sit, read a book all afternoon, and listen to nothing but the humming of the birds and the rustling of the leaves. You can also dip into their cold spring or take a nap under a canopy of trees. It’s also the perfect place to eat lunch with their local specialties and delicious fresh fruits at only Php250 per person.

Dioso Farm is more than just a recreational place, too. It also has an advocacy to support reading. That’s why most of what it earns goes to the Leocadio Alonsagay Dioso Memorial Public Library. Basically, you can relax at Dioso Farm for only 30 pesos and help support the public library at the same time.

Mararison Island

No enhancement needed.

A short 15 to 20-minute boat ride will grant you gorgeous hills, a signature sand bar in low tide, and seascapes in Mararison Island situated in Culasi, Antique. Since we arrived in the afternoon, we decided to watch the sun rise the following day. The experience was truly magical as the skies turned pink and purple just before the sun finally revealed itself.

Hiking the hills is relatively easy. Aside from this activity, you can also visit Nablag Cove, which is pretty easy to do since you can hire a guide to help you roam around the island.  Don’t forget to take lots of photos and enjoy the blue waters and white sand!

Nogas Island

Nogas Island, an uninhabited marine sanctuary in Anini-y, has a very heartwarming and interesting story to tell about a forbidden love affair. Not that the story is too long to tell, but it’s best heard from the locals themselves when you visit the island. *wink*

To me, Nogas Island has two superstars: its gigantic Balete Tree, and its boulevard of Calachuchi. There’s also a lighthouse here, which was unfortunately closed during our visit. The island has huts for visitors to relax in and enjoy the serene beach. However, we noticed a lot of garbage almost everywhere on the island. It’s sad and very frustrating to see this, so we encourage everyone to always bring your trash with you wherever you go. This is a no-brainer reminder, but please do not litter, especially on these beaches.

Pangabuhian Weaving and Fiber Processing Center

Thinking of what to get as pasalubong? Aside from muscovado sugar, you can buy patadyong and other colorful textiles from the Pangabuhian Weaving and Fiber Processing Center in Brgy. Malabor, Tibiao. It’s amazing to know that they dye the threads using natural resources like trees! Weaving is definitely not dead. Let’s keep supporting them by patronizing their products! The weavers also exert effort into teaching young ones how to weave and process in order to sustain the tradition in Antique.

Calawag Mountain Resort

When in Tibiao, I highly recommend staying at Calawag Mountain Resort where the mountains will you embrace with a cool breeze. We experienced sleeping in a real tree house here! More than the accommodations, the resort also takes pride in many activities, like thrilling water-tubing along the river; invigorating Kawa baths in milk, coffee, or beer; fish spas; and coffee scrubs.

(Try Tibiao: Learn, Play, and Relax in Antique)

If you’re trying to veer away from the noise of city life, this resort is the ideal place for you because the signal is weak here. The Antiqueño food that they serve includes delicious Kinaray-a dishes for lunch by the river and a sumptuous boodle serving for dinner. All that you need to do here is basically enjoy and relax!

Kawa Inn

Kawa Inn in Malabor, Tibiao is just within the location of the Tibiao Fish Spa. They have air-conditioned and fan themed rooms for big groups in beautifully-crafted native houses. We enjoyed their kiddie pool and the sunrise’s beautiful backdrop. As a digital nomad, the best thing for me, though, is that they have TV, Wi-Fi, and good data signal.

Pandan Beach Resort

Photo from Mariane Tagaca of Trip ni Mariane

If you want to spend the night in Pandan, Pandan Beach Resort has air-conditioned rooms for couples and families. The resort is in front of a beach and has an overall rustic and homey, cozy vibe. The owner, Ms. Gigi Bautista, treats every guest like family.

For me, the highlight of this resort was witnessing the majestic Antique sunset while sipping on their house cocktails.

Enrique de Mararison

If you plan to stay in Mararison Island for a night or two, Enrique de Mararison has air-conditioned rooms for both small and big groups, Wi-Fi, and food for pre-order. This resort is right in front of Nablag Islet, where you can take Instagram-worthy photos.

Esprutingkle Business Hotel

If you’re looking for a clean and decent hotel in San Jose, Esprutingkle Business Hotel is just that. The hotel is close to many convenience stores, ATM machines, restaurants, and most importantly, it’s just 5-8 minutes away from the airport. There’s also free Wi-Fi here!

Mamma Mia

There is a pizza place in Antique called Mamma Mia Italian Restaurant where the owner/pizzaiolo is actually an Italian! We learned that the ingredients used here are really sourced from Italy. Although our dinner visit was quick, we enjoyed the hot and delicious pizza, pasta, beer, and videoke.

Alpas

Last but definitely not least is Alpas, a bamboo restaurant found in Tobias Fornier that specializes in sustainable, all-natural gourmet dishes. This means that they source their ingredients from their own garden, or get them from small farms and other local suppliers in the area, even those which are hard-to-reach. The exteriors of the restaurant are also interestingly beautiful.

Although the weather was hot during our visit, it was refreshing inside. Perhaps it’s the magic of bamboo! It’s difficult not to be in awe of the rustic and homey interiors. We were served dishes from their menu of the day and the superstar for me was the Grilled Matambaca with Malunggay Oil. They also have a guesthouse in front of a beach, and a store that sells and supports handicrafts and other products made by locals. When in Antique, this restaurant is a must-try.

Truth be told, all of these activities and destinations were arranged to fit in more than a week, and yet we were told that there is so much more to see in Antique. Since Antique is a neighbor of better known provinces like Iloilo and Aklan, it tends to get overlooked even though there are loads of adventures just waiting to be experienced there.

Since some of the destinations above may be far from each other and others can be challenging to reach, I would recommend contacting Katahum Tours for easy tour arrangements. This way, you can also make the most of your trip without stressing about the itinerary!

Katahum Tours

09174503121 / 09475316518

katahumtoursantique@­gmail.com

http://www.katahum.com






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