Western Visayas: An Incredibly Fun Region

Fishing has been the primary livelihood among the people of New Washington as the town is surrounded by bodies of water such as Sibuyan Sea and Lagatik River. Photo by Loida Cordova

Fishing has been the primary livelihood among the people of New Washington as the town is surrounded by bodies of water such as Sibuyan Sea and Lagatik River. Photo by Loida Cordova

Western Visayas, a colorful and exciting region in the Philippines, is composed of six provinces – Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo and Negros Occidental. It is home to the world-famous beach of Boracay and some of the country’s top festivals – Ati-Atihan, Dinagyang and Maskara. 

For the Department of Tourism (DOT), Western Visayas is on the beaten track, but it’s still a joy to visit so enjoy what it has to offer, and seek out its undiscovered attractions.

Discovering the supernatural beauty of this region is a tall order I find very hard to resist. What with the tranquil sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the fast-paced-city-life. This region owes much of its charisma to a concoction of its rich history and natural beauty. I would like to believe that it is a captivating paradise to seduce you with every turn.

Yes, beautiful white-sand islands, postcard-perfect corals, colorful marine life and even more colorful festivals make Western Visayas an incredibly fun place to spend a holiday.

Aklan: Asia’s Lasting Paradise

They say nature’s bounty of scenic attractions are found in Aklan, Asia’s Lasting Paradise. Its claim to fame is Boracay Island recognized throughout the world for its fine white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. It is considered the country’s oldest province believed to have been established around 1212-1213 by settlers from Borneo. Every third week of January, heed the call of the Ati-atihan festival and join the rythmic dancing of participants who darken their bodies with soot and don colorful tribal finery in the capital town of Kalibo.

Go waterfall-hopping in cascading waterfalls and natural pools.Conquer the Caves. Plunge into the natural cold spring of Nabas. Hike through Bakhawan Eco-Park in the capital town of Kalibo and look for the centuries-old mangroves at the Katunggan It Ibajay Eco-Park. Gain a deeper appreciation of piña, an elegant fabric, with a good side trip from Boracay. At the Kalibo Piña Village, which showcases the piña jusi, watch in awe as Aklanons extract delicate fibers from pineapple leaves that will be made into Philippine native wear like the Barong Tagalog. Drop by at the Museo It Akean, which showcases the rich cultural heritage of the province through artifacts and artwork. Pay homage at the Aklan Freedom Shrine, a monument to brave Aklanons.

Antique: Where the Mountains Meet the Sea

Profiled like a seahorse, Antique is acclaimed for its eco-tourism adventure destinations. It offers numerous sights to behold, from the natural wonders of Igpasungaw Falls in Sebaste and the Nogas Island Marine and Bird Sanctuary which lies just off the Sira-an Hot Spring in Anini-y, to the riverbeds of gemstones in Mao-it-Tipulan River in Sibalom, Bugtong Bato Waterfalls in Tibiao, Malumpati Cold Spring in Pandan and a series of island dive sites for water sports enthusiasts which include white water kayaking in Tibiao River. Relax at the Tibiao Fish Spa.

Antique is home to the Binirayan Festival which commemorates the landing of Bornean Datus led by Datu Puti and Datu Sumakwel during the 13th Century, a historical significance which brings pride to Antiqueños. Antique got its tagline “Where the mountains meet the sea” owing to the relatively short distance between its mountains and its coast, which lies parallel to it. Just like its highland attractions, there’s absolutely a lot to explore in Antique’s long coastal area aside from providing an unobstructed view of the sunset.

Capiz: Seafood Capital of the Philippines

It has always been tagged as the Seafood Capital of the Philippines but there’s so much more to Capiz. In colossal grove, there hide its innate wonders such as mysterious islands and glittering caves and a bell known to be the biggest in Southeast Asia.

Capiz thrives due to the myriad marine life ranging from prawns to crabs, marlins to catfish, and mussels to angel wings or diwal. Undoubtedly, all these will not only excite your senses but also your palate with delicacies that would surely make you long for more seafood. Feast on seafood. Have your fill of delicious, affordable seafood at the unassuming black sand stretch of Baybay Beach.

Iloilo: Wondrous Sights to Behold

Iloilo is known for its iconic heritage sites, old buildings and churches, which are reminders of its rich history, culture, and affluence. Its towns enable visitors a glimpse of a rich history and tradition as well as culture and the country’s best festivals.

This mystique province is popular for Kasadyahan that falls on the 4th Saturday of January of each year, an incredible opportunity to sample Ilonggo celebrations by way of bringing the culture of the towns out into the city streets. Iloilo City’s Dinagyang Festival draws thousands of tourists every year.

Iloilo City, the province’s capital, is home to decades-old architectural wonders which still stand against the test of time. Bring your feet down Calle Real de Iloilo, Fort San Pedro, Iloilo Riverside Boulevard, Jaro Cathedral, Lizares Mansion and the Angelicum School, Molo Church, Muelle Loney or the Iloilo’s River Wharf and Museo Iloilo.

Guimaras: Home of the Sweetest Mango

With its over 50,000 fruit bearing mango trees planted on its soil, Guimaras is known as the “Mango Country” and prides itself as the Mango Capital of the World. The country’s best export quality mangoes, which have been certified as pest-free by the United States Department of Agriculture, are reportedly served at the White House and Buckingham Palace.

Guimaras has also been proclaimed as the “island to watch” due to unspoiled natural beauty as for its potential and may I add, the presence of some of the country’s significant historical landmarks – Guisi Lighthouse, Roca Encantada (Enchanted Rock), summer house of the distinguished Lopez clan of Iloilo and the Siete Pecados (Isles of the Seven Sins).

Negros Occidental: Sugar and More

In the western side of Negros Island lie the wonders of sugar plantations amidst the backdrop of the majestic Mount Kanlaon, one of the country’s 13 most active volcanoes.

Take a wistful tour of Bacolod City, the province’s capital. Travel centuries back in time by going on steam locomotives dubbed by locales as Iron Dinosaurs. On the list of top 25 destinations in the Philippines is the alluring city of Silay. There, you can stroll around and walk through its 31 ancestral homes and palatial mansions. No trip is complete without paying a visit to The Ruins in Talisay City. This magnificent 19th-century Neo-Romanesque-inspired mansion was built by local sugar baron Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson as a gift for his Portuguese wife. It was burned down during World War II, but the shell of the house remains. Migrant Pen

articles on Western Visayas

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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.


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