For the third part of my Panay Island solo backpacking adventure trip, let me share with you my short stay experience in Antique. I admit, before I went into this whole backpacking experience, I was a little worried about going into this place. There were stories about “aswang” (vampire-like mythical creatures in Filipino folklore) living in the secluded places of the province. But what I’ve witnessed is a big contrary to the common belief.
From Iloilo City Proper, you need to ride a Ceres bus bound to Caticlan. As I mentioned during my Iloilo Trip blog post, Ceres buses bound to the western part of Panay Island can be found in Molo Terminal. You just have to make sure to get there early as there are a lot of passengers waiting for the same trip. I asked the bus conductor to drop me to Brgy. Importante, Tibiao, Antique. Travel time is 6 hours with 1 stop over if coming from Iloilo City proper and about 4hrs and 45min if from Miag-ao town. Bus fare from Miag-ao to Tibiao is Php120.00. Upon arrival at the arch of Barangay Importante, Habal-habal (popularly known to the place as “single”), a motorcycle, are readily available in the area and is their primary mode of transportation. Fare is Php70.00 per ride. We did stop at a check point where tourist had to pay an amount of Php50.00 for visitors’ entrance.
At that time, “Palarong Pambansa”, the national sports competition of the Philippines, was being held in the province and it was expected that a lot of the delegates gets to grab the opportunity to tour around the place. So, I asked the driver’s recommendation to where can I experience the famous “kawa bath” without any waiting time. He then dropped me to La Escapo Lodge. I was immediately greeted by the staffs of the place. I told them that I wanted to experience their kawa bath in which the place was known for. Kawa bath is Php200.00 for 45 minutes.
At first, I was afraid to stay late and make an overnight stay in Antique because of hearsays about aswangs who are said to be eating humans. I did not see any aswang, but have seen a peaceful and astonishing place of green. After finding the place so relaxing, overviewing a small continuously flowing river and with hospitable and accommodating staffs, I decided to stay at the place overnight. Nipa Hut fan room costs Php250.00, but I did ask a discount to the owner and gave it to me for Php200.00 only (alright! Php50 is still Php50). Towel is free of use and they also serve food if you would want to order one. I requested for a grilled pork and their version of chicken adobo for dinner amounting to Php120.00. Rice is unlimited for Php30.00.
The next day, I woke up early and had a hotdog, an egg and rice for breakfast. I decided to visit and see Bugtong-Bato Falls which is also located in Tibiao. One of the staff in the Lodge brought me to the Barangay Hall via a habal-habal, to register and get a tour guide for the trek. That’s how I met ate Kristy, my tour guide to the falls. Guide fee is Php150.00. Ate Kristy oriented me that normally, it takes them 45 minutes to reach the falls but it only took me 15 minutes probably because of my experience in mountaineering and trekking. The place was well maintained. If you want to get closer to nature, then this place should be in your bucketlist. During the trek, I heard a lot of birds chirping. According to Ate Kristy, the falls was named Bugtong-bato because of a myth about a fairy who was once seen on a big “bato” (Filipino term for a stone) near the falls. I just did get some photos and decided to go back.
Back to the lodge, I took a bath and immediately pack my things. I’ve waited for a bus or a van in the main road, bound to Aklan for my last stop in this travel adventure. In as much as I want to visit Malalison Island which is one of my target place to visit in Antique, I was lacking time then. So, I just promise myself that I’ll surely be back to this wonderful astonishing place. This is one realization everytime I go to a certain place to travel and explore – accept the fact that you cannot visit all the spots that you want to see in one place especially if you have a limited time.
Total Expense: P1,040.00 Overnight including food, transportation, room, kawa bath, trekking fee and LGU visitor’s entrance fee and tax.