BY KAREN V. BERMEJO
(Part 1 of 3)
With Boracay Island and the Ati-Atihan festival of Kalibo every January, Aklan has already proved its worth to the world.
However, it has never ceased to amaze the world with its other natural wonders.
On September 15 to 17, members of the Aklan Tourism Association (AKTOA) along with the representatives of the Aklan media explored the other jewels of the province.
The familiarization tour activity participated by more than 30 delegates was organized by AKTOA as part of this year’s Tourism Week Celebration.
This year, the towns of Madalag, Libacao, Ibajay and Malay showcased what they can offer to their tourists.
WHITE ROCKS OF MADALAG
The first stop of the tour was in the town of Madalag. Madalag is a fourth class municipality, about 45 minutes away from the town of Kalibo.
After a quick meet-and-greet with Madalag Mayor Alfonso Gubatina, the group then trailed another 30-minute jeepney ride from the town’s poblacion to Barangay Galicia.
Despite the roller coaster ride, the vista of the limed mountains with rivers casts our fears away.
Madalag was also blessed with a cheerful and energetic tourism officer, Sir Escot Francisco who filled the trip with laughter and sounds.
Madalagnon’s hospitability was also reflected with their generous welcome to their guests.
Stomach-filling snacks of local delights like the suman or rice cakes and packs of their special pork chicharon greeted the group.
The snacks were actually made for a purpose for an almost 3-hour trek to Barangay Ma. Cristina.
From Barangay Galicia hall, the group hiked for about 5 minutes to the shore where the boats are docked.
The mini-boat that can carry only six to seven people lifted us to the other side of the river. But that was not the only river we had to cross. After surpassing our first boat transfer, we hiked for another 10 minutes to reach another boat.
We actually had to endure about five boat transfers before we reached Barangay Ma. Cristina. Some of us also had to ride a bamboo raft for a faster transfer.
For those who could not endure long walks, you can opt to just ride a boat from Barangay Galicia to Ma Cristina, but it would actually consume most of your time since the boats are not motorized.
Upon reaching the barangay hall of Ma. Cristina, the group hiked for another 30 minutes to reach Sitio Litiknon. This time, some of us decided to brave the raging river that is waist-deep.
The struggles of the long journey were however vanished as we reached our destination, the White Rocks.
If Boracay Island has fine white sands, Madalag offers a breathtaking view of white rocks formation set against green scenery of layered virgin forests.
Despite the long journey, some of us instantly took a dip on the turquoise green and icy spring water flowing between the smooth huge white rocks.
Thought the scenery was already what the White Rocks was all about. But we were wrong. Sir Escot escorted the group for another five-minute trek to the upper portion of the area.
There, we saw a spectacular view of rock formations in sparkling white color with a verdant background of the mountains of Madalag.
Madalag Tourism Officer Escot Francisco said the White Rocks is suited for adventure loving tourists.
“We are blessed for this amazing work of nature. And we are inviting tourists to witness the beauty of our place,” Escot said in a conversation with the Informer.
To regain our energy, the group feasted on a sumptuous lunch by the rocks. A refreshing coconut juice was also served with a bamboo straw for all of us.
Along our way, we also discovered the simple life of the Madalagnons. Most of them depend on their abaca plantation as a source of income. Most women also helped their husbands by weaving abaca products for added income. The journey also showed us how the kids of Madalag value their education. With their backs wrapped on a plastic bag, they also trailed with us their hilly villages and hitch a ride with us in our way home.
With its quiet charm, White Rocks is a perfect place for adventure seeking groups and families who wanted a different retreat. In case you wanted to visit the place, Sir Escot is very willing to accommodate you. Contact him at 0921-4885-954.
Also, don’t forget to bring some chocolates for the kids. I bet most of them want some sweet treats.*