Kalibo, the capital town of Aklan province in Panay Island (Philippines), is a major gateway to the world-famous white pristine beach of Boracay Island.
History reveals, according to the late historian Roman A. dela Cruz, that this destination in Western Visayas was once lived by a thousand people until it grew to become a major tourism hub. Now, its lovely and gracious inhabitants known as Kalibonhons look up to its vast horizon with confidence and abiding faith that their dreams shall be realized.
MOTHER OF FESTIVALS
Kalibo is popular the world over for its annual Sto. Niño Ati-atihan Festival celebrated every third Sunday of January. Dubbed as the “Mother of all Philippine Festivals,” this is a time for Kalibonhons and Aklanons to reunite, make merry.”
Says the website of the local government of Kalibo, the festival is also a season for guests to experience an exhilarating celebration and witness local ingenuity as the Ati-atihan tribes flock the major streets of Kalibo in their creative and colorful costumes, dancing to the thunderous beat of the drums.
Three of the best kept secrets of Kalibo are the Bakhawan Eco-Park, the Museo it Akean and Tigayon Hills.
Bakhawan Eco-Park. The Bakhawan, as part of the Mangrove Reforestation Project, known as “Green Pearl of the Orient”, covers an extensive area of 790 hectares where Bakhawan Eco Park is situated, and teems with marine life such as a plethora of wild ducks, sea shells, crabs and other swamp life. It is located in Barangay New Buswang, Kalibo, Aklan. It was a recipient of the Golden Eagle Award (1996) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for being one of the bests in Asia.
Museo it Akean. Founded in 1980,the Museo it Akean serves as a major cultural aspect of the Archbishop Gabriel M. Reyes Memorial Foundation, Inc. (AGMRMFI). It is housed in the historic 1882 Eskuelahan it Hari (King’s School) building named in honor of King Philip of Spain which evokes the old glory and legacy of the past.
The museo is highly regarded as the oldest remaining building in the capital town of Aklan, located at the very heart of the town and stands near the two other historic buildings – the Cathedral Parish of Saint John the Baptist and the old Tribunal, now the Captain Gil M. Mijares building which houses the Kalibo Police Station, the Municipal Library. Should you wish to visit the museum, kindly get in touch with the Museum Curator Sumra I. dela Cruz-Rojo.
Tigayon Hills. Situated in seclusion in Barangay Tigayon, three kilometres away from the town proper, Tigayon Hills was once a secret sanctuary for the province’s freedom fighters against Spain. Local folklore claims it was the enchanted kingdom of kind fairies. As of the present day, it is the site of a small, concrete house of prayer, surrounded by the Municipal Tree Park, where spiritual retreats are usually organized.
Kalibo is known for its five National Historical Landmarks. These are
- the martyrdom sites of the General Francisco del Castillo Katipunan hero in Aklan at the corner side of the Pastrana Park between S. Martelino and Archbishop G.M. Reyes Street and the Nineteen Martyrs at the Acevedo Building at the 19 Martyrs Street;
- the Aklan Freedom Shrine where the 19 Martyrs and World War II martyred soldiers were buried, along the D. Maagma and Veterans’ Avenues;
- the birthplace of Victorino Mapa, the 1st Filipino Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, at the site of the Glowmoon Hotel at S. Martelino Street;
- and, the birthplace of Most Reverend Gabriel Martelino Reyes, the 1st Filipino Archbishop of Cebu and Manila, at the site of the CAP Building, at the Archbishop Gabriel M. Reyes Street.
The piña cloth, praised as the “Queen of Philippine Fabrics,” is woven on hard-loom made from bamboo and palm trunks. It has been intricately designed and displayed overseas, to great success and with much funfare, by world-class couturiers and designers. This cloth, extracted from the piña fibers has been worn by Aklanons since 17th century.
You should never miss Binakol nga Manok, a native spring chicken cooked with young coconut water and meat with ‘tang-ead’ and ‘eabihig’ leaves in a fresh bamboo tube. Then try also Inubaran nga Manok, Ibos, Ambueong, Latik, Linapay and Tamilok, a wormwood found in deaying bakhaw tree stumps in mangrove forest. It is believed to be an aphrodisiac.
This town is worth your visit. I simply know and I can justify why for I have lived there for many years. – Migrant Pen
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.