“I never thought that resisting was futile and letting fish eat me alive could be such a fun experience … I dipped my feet on the beginner tank on the first day then happily came back for the Extreme and Super Extreme Fish Tank the next day. ”
This is just one of the many testimonials about the growing popularity of Tibiao Fish Spa. Tibiao is actually a name of a booming tourist town north of Antique in Panay Island, Philippines.
The birth of Tibiao Fish Spa is unprecedented and its founder, Flord Nicson Calawag never thought that his backyard hobby would soon gain worldwide attention. Together with two of his friends from the state-owned University of the Philippines in Visayas College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, he started operating it as a legal enterprise in the last quarter of 2009.
According to Flord, a licensed fisheries technologist who was 8th placer in the 2008 PRC exam, fish spas are forms of ichthyotherapy that use small fish to clean the skin.
“Fish exfoliates the skin by feeding on the dead layers of skin cells, a method which has been proven safe and totally free of pain. In fact, the distinct tickly sensation produced by the skin-nibbling fish adds to the cleansing benefits and relaxing ambience of fish spas that made them popular in many Asian countries,” added Flord, a holder of BS Fisheries from UP Visayas.
What makes Tibiao Fish Spa unique from conventional fish spas is its affordable rates and novel offerings. “While most fish spas use imported Garra rufa fish which are expensive to acquire and maintain, Tibiao Fish Spa uses several species of fish sourced from the highlands of the town to provide the fish spa experience in a uniquely Filipino setting,” said Flord.
Today, Tibiao Fish Spa is proud to have established its own breeding facility to cope with the fish requirements of its branches. Flord cannot just imagine that thousands of guests from all walks of life have dropped by the main branch conveniently located along the national highway in the town of Tibiao.
In 2009, Tibiao Fish Spa also began to offer Tibiao Adventure Tours that takes guests around the different attractions in the town to experience nature trekking, kayaking, pottery making, lambaklad fishing, kawa hot bath, among many services.
In 2010, his company made a daring move of opening an exhibit in SM City Iloilo. The fish spa concept was the first of its kind to be ever approved by the top-management of SM. Because of the encouraging reception by Ilonggos, it opened a permanent outlet in the said mall in October 2010. He is simply amazed that to date, the Tibiao Fish Spa in SM City Iloilo has gained a wide following and is always jam-packed on weekends and holidays. Clients flock to its wide portals to avail of its services which now include classic and VIP fish spa, reflexology and massage.
Tibiao Fish Spa has been successful for the past years because its management team is composed of young, energetic but experts in their field. Aside from Flord, the company’s partners are Rex Delsar B. Dianala and Victor Marco Emmanuel N. Ferriols. Dinala is holder of BS Aquaculture (cum laude) and MS Fishers in Aquaculture from UP. Ferriols, also a licensed fisheries technologist, topped the 2009 PRC exam. He holds BS Fisheries (magna cum laude) and MS Fisheries in Aquaculture both from UP.
The three are beholden to their mission of providing a unique venue for recreation, relaxation, and spa treatment at affordable prices.
How to get there. From Manila, a tourist may take a 45-minute flight via Cebu Pacific to Iloilo International Airport or to Kalibo International Airport. From Kalibo, air-conditioned vans of Kalibo International Airport Transport Association (KIATA) will bring you directly to the gates of Tibiao Fish Spa. – 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.