When we planned our trip to the Philippines, we thought about visiting about ten places within three weeks. We wanted to see gorgeous, blue lagoons, swim with whale sharks, visit the oldest Catholic churches in the country, hike to the top of Chocolate hills, see the smallest monkey in the world…
The list was pretty long. But we changed our plan instantly after we arrived to Pandan in Antique province and we decided to take it easy and to stay more with locals rather than build a “we-were-also-there” itinerary.
After seven days in this incredibly friendly and family-like town, we moved to Tibiao, which was about 40km from Pandan and which turned out to be a perfect place to explore ecotourism in the Philippines.
We planned to explore the place and maybe do some trekking, but we did not expect to enjoy three days full of new eco-adventures and meeting amazing people.
Spirit of Tibiao
Unlike Pandan, where all events and local life happens around its ‘plaza’ or the main square in the center, in Tibiao daily life concentrates mostly around the main road or along the shore. Locals socialize in front of their houses, in bamboo huts near the beach and younger ones run around the sea or they play their favourite basketball in the court.
This place is a proof that as a traveller you don’t need a luxury destination with hundreds of tour operators with overpriced packages to relish the attractions in the area. We are not big fans of organized tours or packages at all, so we were very glad that our time in Tibiao was well-planned, but not strictly controlled.
Flord, a very helpful young man and the owner of Fish Spa in Tibiao, suggested some activities and places that would match our interests and tickle our curiosity. We did things we never thought to try and we are grateful we said ‘yes’ even to some crazy things:
Hold on, this is not a kind of spa where small fish tickle your feet. The idea is the same, but the species of fish is much bigger and it’s more fun to resist and to let them do their job!
Price: P 100/$ 2.3/pax/30 min.
How to get there: contact Flord (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more details.
The majority of the families in Tibiao own a boat and we were lucky to bump into a workshop, where about fifteen men were constructing a boat. To build one takes about two months.
Natural salt production
One of the most interesting things we saw in the Philippines was the process of natural salt production. It looked simple, but as one of the producers explained to us, it’s a very demanding job and sadly, it’s also dying out slowly.
They use only natural ingredients like seawater and sand to produce salt from March through June. They are able to make 25 kg of salt in three days, which requires three proper filtrations.
Meeting a local healer
Thanks to our Filipino friend Karmila we visited Remidios Maniba, a woman who showed us that miracles are possible. For more details, stay tuned and follow our “Sunday Story” series.
Pottery and Brick Making
Not far from Tibiao, in Brgy. Bandoja you can see the process of brick production and possibly learn how to make a clay brick or a flowerpot. Ivana got her hands dirty and was very happy about her first hand-made brick!
Price: P 70/$ 1.6/pax
Simply an awesome experience! As we said, we are not usually crazy for the kind of fun where your life flashes in front of your eyes, but surrounded by landscape like in Tibiao, we could not resist giving it a try. We would even do it again!
Price: (1-km trip): P 300/$6.8/pax + Tibiao Eco-Adventures Park entrance fee: P 50/$1.1/pax
Okay, this kind of entertainment is invented for crazy people and (from my own experience) short people. You get into a HUGE, plastic ball with another brave person and an assistant ties you there. Ready! Steady! Go!
They push the ball down the hill and you scream for a long, seven seconds because this is one of the kookiest moments in life when you need to let out all the mixed emotions you’re feeling at the moment.
Price: P 300/$6.8/pax
Once you are in Tibiao, arrange a transport, a so-called habal-habal, i.e. a local with his own motorbike who will bring you to a Tuno village. From there you arrange another guide at the main gate who will lead you through a lush forest and rice-fields with banana and coconut trees around. You’ll also cross hanging bridges, which requires a bit of courage too.
The views are spectacular and the air is so thick and hot that you feel you’re in the right place to experience the tropical climate in Asia!
Price: a local guide we arranged in Tibiao: P 300/$6.8/day + P 100/$2.3 for a waterfall local guide/5 pax, motorbike, gasoline & driver: P 200/$4.6/day, entrance fee for trekking and waterfalls: P 100/$2.3/pax including a guide, too.
7-tiered cascades of the Bugtong Bato Falls
After about one hour of hiking you can refresh yourself in the cool water of the waterfalls (you can also reach it within 30 minutes if you don’t take out your camera or chat with locals along the way).
If you still have energy and you are up for another new adventure, then you will definitely love to climb to the third cascade with the rope.
Well, if zipline pumped you full of adrenaline, then climbing the cascade will be a moment for overcoming fears and practicing focusing on your breath and coordinating your movements mindfully.
An absolutely great way to relax after cool waterfalls, Kawa is a hot tub that used to be a wok in the past. You can relax in the hot water with fresh herbs and flowers that will make your bath a soothing pleasure. We suggest having a Kawa bath in the evening or early morning, when the air is still fresh. A lodge for overnight is available there.
Price: Kawa bath: P 200/pax/$4.6/hour; P 1500/$34/room with fan or P 2500/$57/cottage Contact: Peter’s Lodge: (0920) 499-6903 and (0939) 492-8554
Tibiao whitewater river
We love this place! Although it’s better for kayaking than for swimming, we jumped into the river every time we came from a forest. It’s a wonderful place for meditation, too, as during the dry season you can easily sit in the water and let the stream of the river flow around you.
Ever Land Inn
After all the activities you do in Tibiao and Tuno village, you can treat yourself with a Swedish massage in Ever Land Inn, a great example of eco-tourism! We stayed there for two nights sleeping in a tent under a hundred-year-old mango tree. Hearing the Tibiao River, concerts of night and early morning cicadas’ and geckos’, with no electricity, no internet connection… what else could you wish for a body and soul retreat?
Price: P 250/$5.7/pax, breakfast included; lunch, dinner: P 200/$4.6/meal, massage: P 350/$8/pax/hour Contact: 0947-5719488
We got more than we wished for, saw more than expected, tried more than we had planned and left more relaxed and connected with nature than we could have imagined. And that’s what Tibiao is all about: an active, meditative and eco-friendly place for replenishing your spirit and raising your adrenaline!
Where else to stay in Antique
Which is your favourite or unforgettable eco-adventure you’ve ever done? We would love to hear from you!