CULASI, ANTIQUE — White long beautiful sandbar full of smiling locals greeted us as we approach Malalison island (also known as Mararison), a small fishing village in this town.
This is one of those wonderful moments when the calm seas offered more than what we expected.
Together with a group of media friends from Manila, we’re in for a short stop here to see what this island could offer other famous island resorts in the Visayas region could not. As the kids encircled us and started playing with us, jump shots included, we instantly knew this island is different.
The 20-minute travel aboard a small fishing boat from the town proper wasn’t long to be boring, and yet, it was long enough for us to exchange stories with the locals who accompanied us, about life in this town and its surrounding villages, and their admiration to their natural wonders. They told us beautiful stories about Malalison, including that folklore saying Malalison is one of three islands (including Maningning and Batbatan) believed to have been the banished daughters of Mt. Madjaas. Overlooking the three islands comprising Culasi, Mt. Madjaas is the highest peak in Panay at over 2,000 meters above sea level. However, they did not tell how beautiful this experience could be, especially for many of us who were prisoners of cubicles back in Manila.
At Malalison, we were offered with quality moments to commune with the locals with the beautiful tropical views surrounding us, and the powdery sand beach kissing our feet.
After devouring fresh coconuts, we found ourselves riding the jet ski, and exploring some parts of the island with the kids cheering for us, and awaiting our return.
It was year 2012 during our visit. Six years later, the memory is still vivid in this writer’s eyes. As vivid as this photo of the local kids jumping with us for a shot. (Yes, they were looking at me on the other side but I cropped myself out for vanity’s sake. LOL.)
Antique is one of the provinces comprising Panay Island, which also include Iloilo, Capiz, and Aklan. While all these provinces are oozing with ecological wonders that could easily attract tourists, it is only Aklan with the famous and now controversial Boracay Island that enjoys the world’s attention, and of course, generate tourism revenues to Panay island’s coffers.
Highlighting this town’s beautiful spots was part of Antique’s move to position itself as an alternative tourist destination in the Western Visayas region. Our visit in particular was part of our weeklong local exploration to experience Antique for ourselves.
Six years from that visit, it seems that Antique is now getting the attention it deserves. This island alone for example has served many tourists since then. We admire them for keeping Malalison free of big transient houses. Like the original plan, the local community serves as host to anyone who would dare explore, and stay in the island for a night or even more.
Our Malalison experience was short though. Due to the threat of a bad weather later that day, we did not have enough time to spend the night on the island like other travelers enjoy these days but it was enough for the experience to leave a mark in our heart.
Before the sun sets that day, we found ourselves traveling back to Culasi’s town proper for dinner, and to move to another town to spend the night.
These days, Malalison is still the island to be in when one wants to unplug, and be away from the crowd and the chaos of the city. Having not too many amenities, even 24-hour electricity serves the purpose. Serene, laid back, and without too much crowd, Malalison is that place for the real island experience.
The hills, the views from atop, the sandbars, the beaches, the sand, and the seas are all for yourself. If you’re lucky like us, you’d be able to enjoy jet skiing around the island without limits. Should you find no jet ski however, feel free to approach any of the fishermen to give you a ride around.
Other Parts of Antique
Being the unexplored beauty that it is, Antique offers more experience aside from a stay in Malalison Island. It’s closest sister, the island of Batbatan and its cousin maybe, Nablag islet could also pass as tourist spots. Don’t forget to explore Mount Madja-as of course. He is just waiting for mountaineers to explore his majesty. You can ask him what happened to his daughters.
For those who are chasing waterfalls, chase no more. Culasi has Bulwang Falls, Silay Bagyo Falls, and Kipot Falls to enjoy.
In the neighboring town of Tibiao, visitors are offered activities like the renowned Kawa bath and yes, white water rafting. While in another town of Pandan, beautiful beaches are waiting to be enjoyed too. Then there’s Malumpati Cold Spring, which serves as the go-to place for locals who love excursions.
Indeed, a week is not enough to totally explore the beauty of Antique. So there’s a reason to return. What we have experienced however are worth retelling the world, though on this new platform six years later. We’re gonna telling you more about it with a few updates of course, in our next posts. Call this post the start of our 2018 Antique series.
How about you, what are your unique Antique experience? Care to share in the comments?