BY KAREN V. BERMEJO || PHOTOS BY JUNE DALE LOZADA
The powdery white sand beach of Boracay has made Aklan famous all over the world.
However, aside from this world-class paradise island, there is more in Aklan left undiscovered.
With some friends from Iloilo, June Dale Lozada and Jade Echavez; the Western Visayas Informer team explored some of the hidden wonders of the mainland that could be at par with Boracay’s mystic and wonders.
MANYUKO COLD SPRING
Less than 30 minutes from the Caticlan Port, we reached the famous cold spring spot in Nabas town.
From the highway, we traversed another 2.5 kilometers of some concrete, some rocky road until we reached the Manyuko Cold Spring.
The green landscape of the place and the crystal clear water of the creek beside the road took away our tiredness during the trip.
With the image of singer Bob Marley at the entrance and rasta colors red, yellow and green everywhere, the owner’s love for reggae and ethnic could be felt right away.
The cottages and rooms made of bamboo are also decorated with Marley posters and other hand crafted artifacts of the resort’s owner, Nory Taunan.
Of course, we never missed to take a dip at their pool that serve as large basin that collects cold and clear spring waters. The icy cold spring water will surely refreshed every tourist that visits the place.
After a refreshing morning at Manyuko, we headed to Kalibo town for a glimpse of Aklan’s rich biodiversity, culture and history.
Just like what the term Kalibo means, from the Aklanon word “sangkâ líbo” or one thousand, truly there are thousand reasons to visit the place.
Our first stop in Kalibo is its internationally acclaimed man-made mangrove forest, the Bakhawan Eco-Park also known as Kalibo’s Mangrove Forest located in Barangay New Buswang.
Being touted as the Philippines’ most successful mangrove reforestation project, who would have thought that this 220-hectare mangrove was just a muddy place before?
From being just a marshland, the more than 30 families in the community turned the place into a 50 hectare mangrove park in 1989.
In 1990, the Kalibo Save the Mangrove Association or KASAMA was formed and continued the mangrove protection program.
Now, the mangrove park has become one of Aklan’s tourist and educational attraction.
Take a tour and learn to identify 20 species of mangroves while walking in a 1.1 km-long elevated trail made of bamboo planks and get a reward of fresh air from the Sibuyan Sea upon reaching its end.
But more than the scenic beauty of the lush green mangroves, the park is also home to more than 37 species of birds, 40 species of moths, cultured mud crabs, prawns, and other marine species.
Never miss to try the famous “tamilok” or shipworm fresh from the mangroves also.
After burning some calories from the eco-park we then headed to discover how the famous Piña cloth of Aklan. Hand-woven piña cloth has made the province of Aklan the center of piña cloth weaving in the country, thus being tagged as the Piña Fibre Capital.
We visited the famost piña cloth La Herminia Piña Weaving Industry located at Old Buswang, Kalibo.
The company uses natural fiber from pineapple, silk cocoons, abaca and cotton and the fabric are color with vegetable dye to produce piña cloth,piña-silk, abaca-cotton-silk, piña bastos-abaca-cotton and fine abaca cloth.
After trying some of Aklan’s woven products, we had our sumptuous lunch to prepare for our afternoon adventure.
Our first stop in the afternoon is a visit of Aklan’s history.
MUSEO IT AKEAN
The Museo it Akean of the Aklan Museum is located at just at the heart of Kalibo, at Martelino St. The ground floor of the two storey building serves as the receiving area and exhibit floor for the works of famous Aklanons.
Also featured at the museum is the image of the first Filipino Archbishop of the Philippine Catholic Church, Monsignor Gabriel M. Reyes, an Akeanon.
The second floor is meanwhile filled with artifacts and products that can be found in the province, like the Sto. Niño replicas curved from different woods and some piña weaved products.
After having a glimpse of Aklan’s history, we then visited the center of Akeanon’s faith, the famous Kalibo Cathedral, which is just in front of the museum.
The center of attention in the church is the image of the Sr. Santo Niño, in whose honor the annual Ati-Atihan celebrated every third Sunday of January.
Despite the major facelift of the church’s façade after it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1991, the century old church still retained its post war era grandeur.
After exploring Kalibo, we then proceeded to our next town, Tangalan.
We reached the town in less than 30 minutes.
And by the mention of the town, one thing that comes to our mind is the Jawili Falls.
It is known as the Seven Basin Falls because of its ascending seven pools created by a series of waterfalls. Each basin with flowing waters from the mountain, all of different sizes is perfect for a cooling dip.
For those looking for added adrenaline, there are pool basins suited for those who can dive.
After a short rest at the cottages near the Jawili Falls, we travelled back to the island. We regained our energy after some hibernating mode at the car during our less than 30 minutes trip back to Caticlan.
After the boat trip from the port to Boracay, the group then took a walk at the white sand beach of the island, because there was no better way to end the day than catching the breathtaking sunset of Boracay Island.*