Western Visayas comprises four provinces: Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz and Antique. And while the first three provinces enjoy their share of accolades and hype, Antique tourist spots are seemingly sidelined into obscurity.
But do you know that Antique is a humble place that has it all? Almost each of its 18 municipalities has a hidden gem worth exploring. Here’s a closer look at some of Antique’s highlights. Sit back while you list down the places where you should head next in Antique.
Due to the undeservingly low attention that Antique has been getting, its pristine islands and natural wonders stay under the radar. But how can you miss such an island as Mararison, aka Malalison? This unspoilt island has more than just a white sand beach to boast. Aside from its long coastline, it also has the most awe-inspiring sandbar and Laguna blue waters to beat!
Antique is home to many islands like Mararison. Saying that these islands are beautiful is a complete understatement.
Antique does not only have the distinction of having the only place in Western Visayas where you can find the world’s largest flower. It also boasts of having the highest peak: Mount Madjaas. Soaring at 2117 metres (6,946 feet), Mount Madjaas is a mecca for both local and international mountaineers. First conquered by a team of mountaineers in 1977, the mountain has since become the favourite climb of professional mountaineers who want to test their limits.
Mount Madjaas is called “the crying mountain” because of the 14 waterfalls around its base. Until now, the mountain is in pristine condition. It is home to a very shy cloud rat, wild deer, and wild boar. It also has endemic plants, including wild orchids. Due to its virgin rainforest, Mount Madjaas seems to have a climate of its own. Overall, a climb to this majestic mountain is a total experience on its own.
The island owes its name to its elbow-like shape. Seco or siko is a vernacular term meaning “elbow.” Since Seco Island was featured in one of the Philippines’ largest television networks, it has started to catch some attention. Well, who can endure not noticing an island as mesmerising as this?
Kawa Hot Bath
Who says the people of Antique don’t know how to relax? I say you think again. Nowhere in the whole of Western Visayas can you experience being literally immersed in a huge cauldron or kawa with water and then gradually heated along with some therapeutic and aromatic herbs.
For some, relaxing the tired body this way is bizarre. But for those who have actually tried it, it’s heavenly. You’ve got to try it for yourself to experience what this unique therapy feels like. Don’t worry, you’ll not end up as a stew or soup.
Some of the best thrills in Antique come from the Tibiao River. For kayakers, this river has it all. Practitioners of the water sport distinguish the river’s parts based on their difficulty. Some sections of the river are ideal for beginner courses in river kayaking. Meanwhile, rockier parts of the river host formidable challenges to veterans of the white water.
Hidden Rice Terraces
When you hear the words “rice terraces,” chances are your mind will immediately bring you to other places, such as Banaue and Bali, Indonesia, right?
We bet you haven’t heard of the Hidden Rice Terraces. As the name suggests, this 600-hectare marvel is hidden by natural formations like valleys and waterfalls in San Remigio. This heirloom is the living legacy of the indigenous people called the Iraynon Bukidnon. A five-hour trek to reach the place, which seems like a different world, is all worth it.
Another land formation that San Remigio is proud of is the surreal Igbaclag Cave. They are also known as Stone Castles since the karst formations that compose this cave resemble castles from mediaeval Europe. When exploring Igbaclag, bringing a jacket is a good idea. Aside from the naturally cool temperature in the cave, the abundance of plants and trees around the area also makes breezes cooler than normal!
Antique is a culturally diverse province. Among its rich cultural practices until now is weaving. Yes, weaving using native fibres to be made into a patadyong or wrap-around skirt, scarves, and shawls is still alive and kicking in the province.
Malumpati Cold Springs
For relaxing weekends and holidays, most locals of Bugasong take a dip in Malumpati Cold Springs. A convergence of various river springs carries cool water to Malumpati. The heat can be very intense in the island province, which makes Malumpati one of the most popular Antique tourist spots in the summer.
One of the most important Antique tourist spots is the historic Bugasong Tower. Spaniards that occupied the area built the tower in the 1900s as an outpost. Moro raids were frequent during their stay on the island and this guard tower kept that threat at bay. Today, tourists can climb the tower for gorgeous panoramic views of its surroundings.
Aside from unspoilt islands and white sand beaches, Antique is also home to many old churches in the Philippines built by the Spaniards during their three-century rule of the country. The almost 400-year-old Anini-y Church located in Anini-y, Antique is one of the oldest and the grandest in the province.
Waste no time. Visit the religious site and be transfixed.
Rafflesia was first found in the town of Sibalom in Antique. Later, other species of the biggest exotic flower in the world were also found around the province, especially in the towns of Valderrama, San Remegio, Tibiao, Pandan, Culasi and Sebaste. In all, not one but three species of corpse flower can be found in Antique. Rafflesia or corpse flower is made famous neither by its colour nor beauty but by its smell. It is generally described as smelling like a rotting corpse when in full bloom, hence, the name. One species, the Rafflesia lobata found specifically in the towns of Pandan and Sebaste, blooms whole year round.
Interestingly enough, the stinkiest flower in the world has become Antique’s most celebrated flower. The municipality of Sibalom, where the flower was first found, adapted it as its emblem.
Antique is not just about the above-mentioned things. They are just but a small part of the whole. The best is yet to be. So, have you packed your bags yet? See you in these Antique tourist spots!