The youthful and energetic Mayor Jonathan Tan urges tourists to come and see the beauty of the town. “Pandan boasts of its eco-tourist attractions like Malumpati Health Spring and Tourist Resort, and Bugang River, which won the national award “Gawad Pangulo sa Kapaligiran” as the cleanest inland body of water in the Philippines.”
In 2013, Tan launched a government initiative to lure tourists to its shore. Dubbed as FunDAN or Fun Destination Adventure in Nature, this will showcase the town’s potential as a rich in natural attractions and culture.
BEAUTY AND GRANDEUR
Pandan is known for its natural beauty and grandeur. You should not miss the Pandan Bay Sunset, Baybay Beach, Bugang River, Duyong Beach. Panüktükan Falls, Tingib Beach and Cave, Polocate Beach and Puntahan Beach. The Mt. Mab-o has a nice view of Pandan Bay. You can go up there through Malumpati or Mag-aba. Legend had it that Mab-o was the home of one of their ancestors, Bulalakaw Tumaka.
Laginbanwa Hills are not very high but a little bit steep. But it would be nice to trek there just to see the old town of Pandan. The Malumpati Health Spring and Tourist Resort is located in Sitio Malumpati, Barangay Guia. You can access this resort through Sto. Rosario and Candari. It’s like a lake-river and people frequent this area especially if it’s hot because the water is cold and fresh. They say that it has even medicinal properties for healing.
There are numerous manmade attractions but the ones worth mentioning are the Friday Market, Pandan People’s Park and the Town Plaza.
The town’s cultural traditions have set it apart from other tourist destinations. Dongkahilwayan used to be a traditional welcome to the soldiers, in honor of those who liberated Pandan from the Spanish colonizers. It was normally being held in Baybay Beach during the town fiesta in April. This was replaced by Ati-Atihan and Mardi-Gras where several groups and barangays participating wearing uniforms or dressing up like natives, the “Atis”, in honor of one of the ancestors of the Pandananons aside from the Indo-Malays, Chinese, and Spaniards.
There is also the Dasigay Bugsay – Palabadan Boat Rowing Competition. The town’s historical treasures include “Manlot” Shell of Bulalakaw Tumaca, Old Town in Laginbanwa and Puntahan Hill.
Pandan belongs to the Northwest Panay Peninsula which has been declared by the national government as a natural park. A total of 40 percent of the town’s land area is comprised of intact, low-level rainforest. Sighted in its mountains are four critically endangered species Writhed Billed Hornbill, Visayan Tarictic Hornbill, Bleeding Heart Pigeon and White-throated Jungle Flycatcher.
The town’s Bugang River Cultural, Nature and Adventure Tour has received international and national recognitions. It was cited as a Gold Winner in the International Green Apple Environment Awards for Environmental Best Practice in the Local Authorities and Ecotourism Category. It was also adjudged 1st runner-up in the nationwide search for 2006 Hiyas ng Turismo.
The river itself was recepient of Dangal ng Ilog Award during the 1st National Summit on the State of Philippine Rivers. In 2003, it was declared a National Winner in the Gawad Pangulo sa Kapaligiran as a Cleanest Inland Body of Water.
WHEN AND WHERE TO STAY
The best time to come to Pandan is during its popular town fiesta, known as the Tugbong Festival which runs from the 21st to the 25th of April. There are Agro-Industrial Fair, the Sports Tournament, the Dalmacio Marathon, the Motocross Invitational Competition, the Dasigay Bugsay Boat Rowing Competition, the Search for Miss Teen Pandan Beauty Pageant, the Ati-Atihan, Mardi-Gras and Float Competitions and the Annual Alumni Homecoming of Pandan Bay Institute.
While on vacation, you can stay in Pandan Beach Resort, Phaidon Beach Resort, Greenpark Hotel, Malumpati Cottages, Veramar Retreat House and Resort, Kulayag Beach Resort, Mag-aba Beach House and CA Lodging House.
But please don’t leave without buying some of hand-woven handicraft bags, purses and souvenir items made from bariw (a plant relative of pandan or screw leaves). That would remind you of your memorable trip.
Getting there. From Manila, a tourist may take a 45-minute flight to Kalibo International Airport. Pandan is a one and a half hour drive from Aklan’s capital town of Kalibo.
THE BLOGGER. Ulysses Espartero is a journalist, speechwriter and publicist who traces his roots from two Philippine jewels – Laguna and Antique. While in Dubai, he enjoyed his expat life documenting the struggles and victories of migrant workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council states. In 2014, he released Precious Gems in a Desert of Gold, the first and only coffee table book about Filipino achievers in the United Arab Emirates. Connect with him on facebook.