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Antique’s Underrated Charm

Antique’s Underrated Charm

Antique was the remaining province I hadn’t explored in the island of Panay. So when Air Asia launched flights to Iloilo via Clark, I knew it was the time I had been waiting for. Our gateway to the province was Iloilo City which was only an hour’s flight from Clark. We were transported from the airport courtesy of Atty. Helen Catalbas of the Department of Tourism Region 6 and had a quick stopover in the office as well in downtown Iloilo City before we proceeded to our accommodation, Kasa Raya Inn, in Antique. From there, land travel to Tibiao, Antique took four hours. We arrived in our lodging at night time since our plane landed late in the afternoon. But smelling the fresh air and seeing the outlines of its high mountains against a starlit sky made me excited to start our tour the following day.

Hello me to Western Visayas! Quick stop to DOT Region 6 Tourism office before going to Tibiao. 😉 #AirAsiaInClark #AirAsiaInIloilo #DOT6 #ExperienceWesternVisayasFirst #themermaidtravels

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Kasa Raya Inn (Inn & Cafe)
We were eagerly welcomed by Kasa Raya Inn’s two resident dogs, Ritz and Ascott, who we found out were big fans of belly rubs and head scratches, when we arrived late that night. Kasa Raya Inn was owned by our good friend Alex and his family. As a testament of their warm hospitality, we were still served hot meals even though it was nearing midnight. A simple meal of their fantastic pork adobo and rice matched with ice cold coca-cola, perfectly capped our arrival.

I saw the rustic beauty of Kasa Raya Inn when I woke the next day. Built on stilts right in the middle of rice paddies, the inn has the simplicity and provincial charm I was looking for. The structure was made of light and native materials (bamboo, wood) which made the place seem to breathe. The inn is also in a good location. It was right off the highway and just a mere 15 minute drive to the famous Kawa Hot Bath. A gas station serves as its official landmark.

My two friends and I stayed in a room for three with our own toilet and bath. We each had our own bath towels though you have to bring your own toiletries. Pro-tip: Don’t forget to take a peek at the bathroom window while brushing your teeth in the morning. You will be greeted by green fields and robin blue skies. The rooms were simple but had the basic necessities for a comfortable stay. You have the option to turn on the fan or the air-con or the luxury of both. Since it was summer, we turned on both and just switched off the fan when it became a little cold in the mornings.

Kasa Raya Inn was our home for two amazing nights in Antique. It is a bed and breakfast in Tibiao, Antique which also can be your jump-off point to various mountain, river, and island hopping eco-adventure tours in Panay Island. If I were to go back, I’d still choose to stay here as their rate is very affordable at Php 500 per head with breakfast and Wi-Fi. 

Mararison Island
Our first full day in Antique proved to be one that was jampacked with activities communing with Mother Nature. After having a heavy breakfast at Kasa Raya Inn, we were whisked to the port ten minutes later to explore the beauty of Mararison Island for a few hours.

Mararison (or Malalison for Ilonngos) is an island baranggay just under twenty minutes from the mainland and is part of Culasi town. I have been hearing a lot of good stories about the island specially its beaches. And true enough, we were greeted by its breathtaking blue green seas. From the island, one can see the high mountains always kissing the bright skies.

Aside from swimming, one of the main activities in the island is trekking. Guides are a must for hikers as some paths can be tricky to the unfamiliar. It is always good to be guided by the locals for they best know about the island. The trek can last a couple hours depending on your pace. It can be tiring when done in high noon (like what we did) but the view from the top was quite rewarding.

In our trek, we encountered the petite pitcher plant which was said to be endemic to Mararison and to some islands in Palawan. I thought it was big plant but Mararison’s version of it was a small one. I remember when during my childhood, I only saw it on TV and read in books so it was pretty amazing to see one up close.

After our trek, we were served a bounty lunch which consisted of fresh seafood. I didn’t know which was more perfect, the view behind me or the food served to us. I think it was both! After making our tummies larger, we left the port at a quarter to one. It would have been nice if we stayed in the island the whole day but we had other places to go to. However, a few hours in the island will suffice specially if you will not do the hiking activity. Just lounging at its soft sand and swimming in the cool waters will be just fine too. 

Malumpati Cold Spring + River Tubing
Now river tubing was what I was looking forward to doing the whole day. But to our dismay, we were informed that due to the summer season, water in the river was stagnant. So as not to waste time, we still trekked into the mountains and enjoyed the peaceful surroundings.

In our walk, I found Antique’s wildlife still mostly beautifully intact. We ‘encountered’ a stick insect (as what our guide told us) dangling off a small tree. Seriously, it was unrecognizable since it already camouflaged with its surroundings. Our guide even said that it already had babies but they seem to be have gone missing. According to her, it might’ve been eaten by monkeys who comes down from the mountains during night time.

The surrounding forest was creepy but undeniably beautiful. I felt my heart beat with joy as the locals heavily promote responsible tourism. In my mind, that should be the way it is as without it, there would be no place for us to visit and for the locals to thrive in.

Kawa Hot Bath
Before going back to Kasa Raya Inn, we had our last stop at the super enjoyable Kawa Hot Bath in the hinterlands of Tibiao. It was the perfect activity after a long and tiring day. The oversized cauldrons, were lined up along the river. We had the opportunity to sit in our pots and be ‘cooked’ for twenty minutes. Kidding aside, the water used in the Kawa Hot Bath were littered with herbs and flowers, making it a very relaxing experience.

Visitors can also stay overnight in the area. There are rooms for rent at P250 per head. There is no cellphone signal though electricity is already 24/7. The rooms overlook the river with the mountains not far beyond. It was a great place to unwind and forget all about life. The hot bath costs P 200 for 30 minutes.

It was great finally being able to visit this enchanting province. It was too bad that we were unable to do river tubing. But then that’s another reason to visit. But for now, we’re off to Capiz.

I would like to thank Atty. Helen Catalbas of Department of Tourism Region 6 for providing our transportation all throughout the tour as well to Las Islas Travel & Tours for making our Panay Loop Adventure possible. Air Asia Philippines, Capiz Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office. Sir Rophine Visorio and Mayor Felipe Neri Yap of Ivisan town Capiz for a warm welcome.

Book your Antique Province tour with DOT-accredited Las Islas Travel & Tours!
You may contact them through the following channels:

Las Islas Travel & Tours

Kasa Raya Inn (Inn & Cafe)
Km 172 Iloilo-Antique Road, 5707
Tibiao, Antique

FB: Kasa Raya Inn

Blue Wave Tourist Inn | Kawa Hot Bath
Tibiao, Antique
FB: Blue Wave Tourist Inn

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