EXPLORING PANAY: Capiz, Ilo-ilo, Guimaras, Antique, Aklan (Part 2)

The region of Panay is such a beautiful place brimming with splendid-looking beaches, amazingly rich culture and good-natured people all over. My trip there with my good kaladkarin friends made up for one very enjoyable trip! Join me as I recall our trip to this Western Visayas region.

Our trip lasted for five (5) days covering the whole region of Western Visayas. We came in at Roxas City, Capiz then flew back to Manila at Kalibo, Aklan.

Part 1 covers our trip to Capiz (Day 1)

Part 2 covers our trip to Ilo-ilo and Guimaras (Days 2 to 4)

Part 3 covers our trip to Antique and Aklan (Day 5)

 ILO-ILO

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Cabugao Gamay Island in Carles, Ilo-ilo is a paradise!
Ilo-ilo is the second province that we visited in the Western Visayas Region. It is the biggest province in the island of Panay as it covers a total land area of 5,000.83 sq km. It also has the largest population, having 2, 361, 042 as of 2015. It consists of 42 municipalities, one component city and one highly urbanized city (the province’s capital, Ilo-ilo City).

DAYS 2 AND 3- CARLES AND ILO-ILO CITY, ILO-ILO

Early morning the next day, we went to the bus terminal of Lawa-an in Roxas City. There, we rode a Ceres bus going to Carles, Ilo-ilo. We  went down in the Balasan Junction and rode a tricycle going to Bancal Port.

We arrived in Bancal Port at around 7 am. We waited for our guide, Kuya Joshua, (brother of Rhett Paul Bolivar of Gigantes Island Tours and Services – 09157595000/09989816812), who would also be taking charge of the boat that we’d be using for Isla de Gigantes. He arrived at around 8 am, along with the other passengers that would be joining us.

Note: Little did we know there was a typhoon inside the Philippine Area of Responsibility when we headed to Isla de Gigantes, and at that time, was just about to hit the Visayas area. When we arrived in Bancal Port, the weather was gloomy. But we still pushed through for that day’s agenda, which was island-hopping, given the approval of the tourism office of Carles. I thought maybe the islands won’t be as splendid as they are when visited during a fine, sunny weather. But I was definitely wrong. Despite the grayish sky, the islands still looked amazing. By the time I set my eyes upon Cabugao Gamay, the first island in the Gigantes group of islands that we visited, I was fascinated! It was such a beauty! With clear waters crashing against its whitish sand plus limestone rock formations and coconut trees complimenting that sight, Cabugao Gamay is a paradise!

PLACES TO VISIT IN ISLA DE GIGANTES

Cabugao Gamay Island

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Cabugao Gamay Island. Seen here is its “sister island,” Cabugao Dako.
Bantigue Island

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Bantigue Island
Pulupandan Island

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Pulupandan Island. Our tour guide joked that this island is also called “Spongebob Island” because there is only one tree that can be seen at the center of the island, much like the one in the cartoon.
Antonia Island

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The view from the top of Antonia Island!
We were not able to visit all the places in Isla de Gigantes due to the typhoon. The other places that you could visit there once you decide to go here are the following: Tangke, the saltwater lagoon; Langub Cave, Pawikan Cave, among others.

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Here are some of our newfound friends: Cee, Jonil, Christine and Neza. This picture was taken when we were already in Guimaras.
Meanwhile, we got to meet and make new friends during the island-hopping. As they were also staying in the same resort that we, the kaladkarins, were staying on, we got to know them more through the night. Speaking of that night, that night of our second day in Panay was unlike any other. We were staying in a hut along the resort. We thought the rain caused by the typhoon would soon die down but it did not. The heavy rain continued to pour and the wind kept on howling even after midnight. The hut we were staying in was rattled. The covers it had along the sides were being swept away! We were then eventually evacuated to the bungalow of the resort!

Our original plan of taking the boat ride early in the morning going back to Carles did not push through as the coast guard did not allow any water vehicle to embark on any trip. We stayed in the island until about noon time, praying that we would soon be allowed to continue on with our trip. And thank God because we did!

Our guide contacted someone so we could ride a van straight to Ilo-ilo City. Riding with us were our newfound friends who were also going to the capital of the province.

When we arrived in Ilo-ilo, we went to SM Ilo-ilo to have dinner. We were already very hungry then! We ate dinner in Ted’s Oldtimer La Paz Batchoy to have a taste of authentic Ilonggo’s La Paz Batchoy!

We then went to Budget Inn to settle down and freshen up. After that, we went to the city’s go to place at night called Smallville. After looking around, we opted to sing videoke in MO2 til the wee hours of the morning.

GUIMARAS

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Guimaras is the 3rd province that we visited in the Western Visayas region. It is actually not a part of the Panay island because it is itself an island, which was a sub-province of Ilo-ilo before it became independent in 1992. One of the smallest provinces in the country, Guimaras covers a lot area of 604.57 sq km. It has five (5) municipalities, one which is Jordan, its capital. Guimaras is known for producing some of the sweetest mangoes. I can attest this to myself because the mango tasted so good when I ate it there. 

DAY 4- GUIMARAS AND ILO-ILO

Early morning the next day, we woke up and prepared for our Guimaras trip. We headed to Ortiz Wharf, the port in Ilo-ilo City that people use to go to Guimaras. We paid for our boat ride going to Jordan port. Once in Jordan port, we were able to talk to a mini-jeep owner and arranged a half-day tour with him as our guide in Guimaras.

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Oh how I fell in love Guimaras! In contrast to the gloomy weather we experienced a few days ago, the weather there was all sunny. We were able to have a great time visiting these places:

 San Lorenzo Windmills

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The San Lorenzo Windmills! This as seen in the San Lorenzo viewdeck where the island of Negros can be seen. Did you see the mountain hiding in the clouds?

Reymen Beach Resort

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Mango Plantations

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Seen here is a huge mango plantation that is owned by a very wealthy family according to our guide.
Trappist Monastery

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Cross-marked wooden artifacts can be bought in Trappist Monastery. In this place, you can also buy some of Guimaras’ products, one of which is the best piaya I’ve ever tasted: the mango piaya!
Before going back to mainland Panay, we had lunch at the Pitstop, the famous restaurant in Guimaras that serves mango pizza!

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I hesitated about the mango pizza but I really shouldn’t have! It is as yummy as you’d think when cheese and mango perfectly combine!
Back to mainland Panay

After washing up and packing our things, we bid goodbye to our newfound friends. We opted to visit more places around Ilo-ilo City as well as some of the must-visit travel destinations in the southwestern part of the province.

In Ilo-ilo City, we went to Ilo-ilo Trade and Convention Center and Ilo-ilo Provincial Capitol via taxi. These are two of the most beautiful landmarks that I’ve seen in the city. Honestly, the provincial capitol was one of the things I was looking forward to before going here in Panay. And I was awed when I finally saw it for myself!

We then rode a bus going to Miag-ao Church, then bus again towards San Joaquin Cemetery. It should be noted that the buses heading to Antique will be going to these places.

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The magnificent Miag-ao Church!

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San Joaquin Cemetery at dawn.
It was already evening when we decided to leave San Joaquin. However, we were not able to leave immediately because fewer buses ride at night in the area. A funny incident even happened while waiting. At one time, we were still buying bread and mineral water in a bakery and medication in a nearby drug store when a bus passed by. To our panic, we kind of abandoned what we were buying in the stores just to be able to ride the bus. But then, we found out it wasn’t heading to Antique! And so we went back to the stores. But then came shortly another bus, and this time it was really heading to Antique! The vendors and the other people in the area quickly helped us with the stuff we’re buying so that we could just ride the bus we’ve been waiting to ride! Haha. In that instance, we really knew that the people of Ilo-ilo are really kind.

After some time, we went down in the bus terminal of San Jose, the capital of Antique. There we rode the bus going to Culasi. It didn’t take too long for the bus to leave. It was very fast because at around 9 pm, we were already in our next destination: Tibiao, Antique. We checked in Kasa Raya Travellers Inn, Café & Restaurant, which is located near the entry place where the popular kawa baths are located.

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This is such a good place to stay in Tibiao, Antique. Aside from providing us a good shelter for the night, they also prepare awesome food!

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He’s one of the dogs guarding the inn. I forgot his name but he’s really sweet and kind to us while we were there. 🙂
Watch out for Part 3 of our Panay adventure! It’s going to cover our trip to Antique and Aklan! Expenses will be listed there as well. 🙂

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