There are so many things to say and write about Antique. Profiled like a seahorse, Antique, which is composed of 18 municipalities, is an oversized serrated hemline on the western border of the three-cornered scarf-like land mass that is Panay – geographically part of Western Visayas in the Philippines.
Acclaimed for its eco-tourism adventure destinations, it offers numerous sights to behold, from the natural wonders of 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 and a series of island dive sites for water sports enthusiasts which include white water kayaking in Tibiao River.
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. The Malandog Marker is a monument to the landing site of the first Malayan settlers. The Binirayan Festival every April 30 to May 2 commemorates the landing.
In front of the Antique Provincial Capitol building in the capital town of San Jose is the EBJ Freedom Park renamed in honor of freedom fighter Evelio Javier.
The Department of Tourism noted that 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.
Antique is endowed with rich natural resources which abounds the entire coastline up to the vastness of its highlands. Famous for its natural beauty, the province is home to majestic mountains, cascading waterfalls, white beaches, rich fishing grounds and white water kayaking.
Hunt shells at Nogas Island, a 24-hecatre government naval reservation island three miles from the shoreline of Anini-y. Enjoy spectacular views at Sira-an Hot Spring, Cresta de Gallo, Camp Autajay, Pula Waterfalls, Bato Cueva, Danao Lake, Batabat Coral reef, Cadiao Resort, Macalbag Waterfalls, Hatay-tay Resort and Palakopak Lake.
In the northern part, take photos at Manglamon Beach and Cave of Tiguis, Mt. Madia-as, Batbatan Island, Bugtong Bato Falls, Tibiao Rover, Kipot Falls, Kalamasag Falls, Ipasungaw Falls, Bugtong Bukid, Malumpati Health Spring, Marble Mountain, Kaniang Resort, Idiayan Resort, Maanghit Cave and Duyong Beach.
The province’s best kept secret though is the Caluya group of islands. Tourists that can bear the 3 hour travel to Caluya are rewarded with white, powdery sand beaches surrounded with pristine waters and diverse species of marine life that have not yet been touched with commercialism.
White-Water Kayaking is so famous that Tibiao River which rises on the slopes of Mt. Madjaas has become a home for the usual run of 8km and a pleasant one-day excursion. Tibiao has the Bugtong Bato Falls and the Tibiao Fish Spa.
Pandan has Bugang River which was declared the country’s cleanest body of water. Malumpati is an exceptionally scenic river offering good still water for practicing and a few mild rapids. This is where Tribal Adventure brings novices to introduce them to kayaking. The mountains above Malumpati contain one of Panay’s only remaining virgin forests. They say the scenery is lovely with trees coming right down to the river.
Trekking can be done at Mt. Madjaas, the highest point on the island of Panay which rises over 2000m above the coastal plain of Antique. It is home to one of the last expanses of virgin rainforest in the area. Those who have come say that the views are panoramic, overlooking the beach-fringed islands of Maniquin, Batbatan and Mararison on the west side and the rugged valleys of central Panay on the east.
Sebaste has the Igpasungaw Falls, the Sebaste Inland Resort and the equally popular Saint Blaise Church, where devotees of St. Blaise make a pilgrimage every year during the annual fiesta.
Praised for their industry, the Antiqueños are renowned weavers. This explains why one of the best buys are loomwoven wrapskirts locally known as patadyong, a tube cotton fabric of plaid design. The Bugasong patadyong is highly valued because of its fineness of weaving.
There are gemstones, buri and other indigenous handicrafts. Libertad is famous for its bariw mat and bag weaving. Wine manufactured from the sap of the coconut is a cottage industry.
Antique is also noted for its famous chemical free muscovado sugar which contains minerals beneficial to the body such as calcium and magnesium.
TRAVEL INFO. Experience pure hospitality in pension houses and relish the simple joy of local host family by getting an accommodation in the homestay. Where you stay, your meals can be arranged with your host in advance. Tourists can traverse the province from various entry points.– Migrant Pen
THE BLOGGER. Ulysses Espartero is a journalist, historian and book author 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.