Get out of town. Get into an extreme water adventure, unplugged from social media and treat your skin in a hot spa bath. You can get all these in a remote area such as Tibiao, Antique.
When we arrived in Tibiao Antique, it is quiet but not scary quiet. It actually has designated areas to uplift the adventurous spirit.
The province of Antique is located in the southwest area of Panay Island, Western Visayas. Aside from Antique, the Panay Island is composed of three more provinces. On its southeast side is the Ilo-ilo which is popular for old and beautifully structured Churches built during Spanish colonial era. On the east side of the Panay Island, just above the Ilo-ilo, is the province of Capiz which known as a home to Asia’s largest Church bell made out of several sacks of coins. In the northwest area of Panay Island is the province of Aklan which covers the white sand beaches of Boracay.
How to get to Tibiao Antique
Travelling by air from Manila to Panay Island takes around one hour travel time. The Evelio Javier Airport in the province of Antique is temporarily closed. But there are four other airports servicing nearby provinces. The Kalibo International Airport and the Iloilo International Airport are the two busiest airports in Panay Island.
Kalibo to Tibiao Antique
The Kalibo International Airport is located in Aklan. It is also the most ideal base when going to Tibiao, Antique. Take a tricycle ride from the Kalibo International Airport to Ceres Bus Terminal. This will cost around P50 and may only take less than 15 minutes to reach the Ceres Bus Terminal. In the Ceres Bus Terminal, ride the bus heading to San Jose Antique. Travel time usually takes around two and a half hour. You can then get off once you see the Tibiao Fish Spa, Malabor, Tibiao. You can also get off at Brgy. Importante, Tibiao from where you can hire a habal habal to take you around the area.
Traveling from the Iloilo International Airport going to Tibiao, Antique takes longer travel time. From the Iloilo International Airport, you can ride a van, for around P50 per head, bound to Molo Terminal. Then, ride a van or jeep, for around P110 per head at Molo Terminal bound to Antique. And, ask to be dropped off at Malabor, Tibiao. Travel time may take about three hours via van or five to six hours via jeep/bus
Caticlan to Tibiao Antique
Caticlan Airport, sometimes referred to as Godofredo P. Ramos Airport or Boracay Airport, is the second airport in Aklan. This one is the nearest to Boracay Island. When it comes to fare, coming from this airport can be twice or more experience compared to the other airport. This is also the fastest way to reach the Tibiao, Antique. At the bus terminal by the jetty port, you can ride a bus heading straight to San Jose, Antique. Alternatively, you can ride a bus heading to Ilo-ilo City via San Jose, Antique. You can then get off at Tibiao Fish Spa, Malabor, Tibiao.
Roxas to Tibiao Antique
Another airport in Panay Island is at Roxas, Capiz. This is about two hours away from Kalibo, Aklan. Take a bus or van bound to Kalibo. In Kalibo, you’ll take the bus heading to San Jose, Antique and just get off at Malabor, Tibiao, similar to the directions above (see directions from Kalibo going to Tibiao, Antique).
What to see in Tibiao Antique in One Day
Tibiao Bakery is a proudly Pinoy bakeshop offering mainly of Filipino bread and some short order of Filipino cuisines. It was first established in 1953 in Tibiao, Antique, just about two blocks from the Municipal Hall. It then earned a reputation for serving quality bread not only in the province of Antique but in the whole island of Panay as well. You will not have trouble searching for them in the provinces of Panay island. The Tibiao Bakery brand has even reached New Zealand.
Among the specialties of Tibiao Bakery in Antique, teren-teren is the top in-demand bread. Teren-teren is a bread roll named after the train since it resembles to train coaches. Inside the bread roll is a sweet, creamy and milky filling, best eaten while it is hot. Other specialties of Tibiao Bakery includes Pandesal (Filipino plain bread roll), Ensaymada (bread roll with cheese, butter and sugar toppings), siopao (steamed bun) and Pan de Coco (bread roll with coconut fillings).
Fish nibbling therapy (or Ichthyotherapy) was first discovered in the ponds of Kangal, Turkey. The place became a popular spa resort in which skin ailments like eczema and psoriasis are treated. The ailment is treated as the doctor fish destroys the bacteria through the enzymes it secretes. The doctor fish also removes the dead skin on feet. Thus, making the feet smoother.
In Tibiao, Fish Spa started only as a project by Flord Nicson J. Calawag, a UP graduate (University of the Philippines in the Visayas) with a degree in fisheries. He came across local fish species similar to doctor fish or fishes commonly used in fish spas. He caught some of the local fish and discovered that they have the same behavior as the doctor fish. He then called the local fish as Therafish and led the opening of the fish spa in their family-owned resort.
For only around P119, you can already dip your feet in their pool and have them nibbled by Therafish for 30 minutes and that also comes with a five-minute foot massage. A foot or half-body massage service can cost around P199. For more or less P249, your 30-minute fish nibbling therapy can also include ether an upper-body massage or a foot massage. A full-body therapeutic massage service for one hour can cost around P349. A Tibiao antique day tour packages in may include an unlimited access to the Tibiao Fish Spa.
Tibiao Museum (Museo de Tibiao)
The Tibiao Museum is a 52-year-old ancestral home just a few minutes from Tibiao Bakery. The Museum showcases the two of the most gigantic pearls in the world.
One of the pearls of Tibiao was already taken out of its shell and weighs more or less 13.75 kilos. The second pearl of Tibiao is still in-tuck on its shell and weighs around 24.75 kilos. Each pearl of Tibiao may even amount to a value of not below $100 million. Far more significant than this is the major role of the two pearls of Tibiao which is to help promote awareness and conservation of biodiversity.
Buy a straw hat
Buy a straw hat for protection from the sun. It is great props for your pictures too.
Bugtong Bato falls
Entrance fee for Bugtong Bato falls is more or less P100. Guide fee which is already for the whole group is P150.
The Bugtong Bato Falls is a 1.3 km hike for about 20 to 30 minutes from the Kayak Inn. You’ll pass by rice terraces too. You’ll be traversing beside the river. Although it could be slippery when raining, it is relatively easy. There are huts for stops but we barely stopped except well for pictures.
Bugtong Bato has seven tier waterfalls but only 3 tiers are accessible by ordinary tourists. The other tiers are already difficult to climb.
The first level has huge boulders surrounding its pool but it is the most ideal place to take a dip. So, it was very crowded when we got there.
The second level can be reached through a steel ladder. It is not far from the first level and has less crowd. The third level of the falls can be reached by climbing a rope. It is really challenging especially since you’ll be climbing up on the stone steps right where the water is flowing. It is really slippery. Please be very careful in this part.
Once you’re up in the third falls, you’ll find it like an exclusive place. Erica, Marky, and I just enjoyed the cold water. Glad, the water was strong during our visit. During summer, falls can be a bit dry.
We spent time taking photos when we went down the first tier. The crowd already left and we had the falls to ourselves. We then got hungry so we decided to leave and go back to the Calawag Mountain Resort for our boodle lunch.
Butong river got its name from Butong bamboo trees since these trees are abundant along its riverbank. The riverbank has huge boulders of rocks. Some may even measure about 6 meters tall. The river is still an ideal place for swimming. You can take a dip in the waters of Butong river which is really cold and clean with light jade color.
Go to Calawag Mountain Resort
The Calawag Mountain Resort offers at least around P2,250 for an awesome adventure Tibiao day tour package. Our tour guide was Bibong. We appreciate his attentiveness.
What to do in Tibiao Antique
We got help from Katahum Tours. They helped us arrange our itineraries and accommodation.
River tubing in Tibiao
We rode donut tubes and went through the strong current of the Tibiao River. This was super fun. The guides were also amazing. They watched over us and assisted us whenever we got stuck between rocks.
Other water adventure to try can be basic kayaking or extreme kayaking.
End up in Butong river where you can boulder jump
Butong river, like I’ve mentioned earlier, has boulders of rock. One is noticeably high. You can climb it and take a jump on the deep water. During summer, this river can also have low water-level. Marky and Erica were already exhausted so I was the only one that jumped. You need to swim to the other side to be able to climb up the boulder but our guide helped me. It was fun.
Kawa Hot Bath
Soaking in the bathtub with hot water has already been practiced in different countries. This practice helps ease back pain or other type of muscle injuries, improve blood circulation, and reduce stress.
In Tibiao, you can find kawa or huge and deep cooking pan that one or more persons can fit in. These pans were previously used for sugar refining process. These are no longer used for such, well, because of new technology. These pans are now used as an outdoor hot bathtub.
The kawa is heated by firewood and some dried bamboo. It may take a while until the water is hot enough. You may advise them ahead of time if you don’t like waiting time. You may also choose natural ingredients you’d like to go with your hot bath. Choices are beer, milk, salt, coffee, and wine. I chose to do the milk and the salt while Marky tried beer. Erica chose salt a well, I would like to try coffee and wine next time. While waiting for them prepare your bath, they serve turmeric tea which was something I liked too.
Meal sharing (Boodle fight)
Boodle fight, if you’re not familiar, is a meal sharing style lunch served on banana leaves. They serve seasonal food. Usually, main dish can be chicken papisik (Tibiao’s special steamed chicken), adobo (cooked mainly with vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and peppercorn), or grilled fish or pork. Then, the main dish comes with rice, mixed vegetables, ice cream, fresh fruits and soft drinks.
What to Bring
Waterproof bag or ziplock plastic bag (for mobile phone, identification card, and such other valuables)
Drifit shirt or rashguard
Cap or scarf
Jacket, on rainy season
Where to stay in Tibiao, Antique
Kawa Inn is located just right along the main road, more particularly in Brgy. Malabor. For travel wise, you can just tell the bus driver to drop you off at Kawa Inn or Tibiao Fish Spa in Brgy. Malabor.
The Kawa Inn’s Fish spa is located along the main road. Internet and mobile signal are workable.
All rooms are designed with banig (hand-woven mat) products and bamboo. You can choose rooms either equipped with fan only or air condition. And, rooms are available for couples or for groups with 3 to 12 members. Rates range from P 1,199 to P 4,399.
Calawag Mountain Resort is located on higher terrain of Tibiao. So, from Kawa Inn, you’ll still need to ride a habal-habal.
Available rooms in the Calawag Mountain Resort are Bahay Kubo (Nipa hut) and the treehouse. We slept in the treehouse. It was very rustic. It reminds me of authentic Filipino life.
There is no signal here but it was peaceful and quiet. I super loved this place. All activities are found here. Day tour activities include river tubing, boodle lunch, kawa hot bath by the river, and access to the fish spa. To maximize our unlimited access to the fish spa pool, we used this while waiting for our breakfast, after eating our dinner, and during our free time.
They had cool common areas too. It is an open Kubo by the river where we stayed for siesta or to take a nap.
I didn’t find ATMs and banks in Tibiao. So, as much as possible, prepare enough cash before coming in in this town.
If not, you can drop by Culasi, Antique to access ATMs and banks. It is 30 to 40 minutes away. You can ride a bus from Tibiao going to Culasi-Libertad-Kalibo-Caticlan. It can cost more or less P25. Culasi has more restaurants and stores.
Overall, I’d say Tibiao getaway, through Katahum Tours, showcases how rich the Philippine islands are, how creative the Filipinos are, how humble but rich are the Philippine culture is.
Website : http://www.katahum.com/
Mobile : 0917-4503121 or 0947-5316518