20 Reasons Why It’s More Fun in Western Visayas (Exploring the Region’s Heritage and Wonder)

Nestled right in the heart of the Philippine archipelago, Western Visayas has become a center of tourist destination because of its incomparable beach and island resorts, heritage sites, colorful festivals and gastronomic foods and delicacies. Tourists, when visiting the region, never miss to bask in the pristine white sand beaches of Guimaras, revel in the rhythm of the drum beat and the graceful steps of the Ati-ati warriors during the Dinagyang Festival, or satisfy their palate by tasting La Paz Batchoy. Yet, Western Visayas remains as an island yet to be explored. Popular destinations like Boracay and Guimaras Island may have placed the region in the tourist map, but there is more to what the island can offer aside from these famous sites. From historical landmarks to beach resorts, we explore the other unnamed wonders of the region.

1. Malumpati River. In Pandan, Antique, one may enjoy trekking to the mouth of Malumpati-Bugang River and be mesmerized by the clear water that never fails to entice one to take a dip and shiver to the bones because of the chilly river.

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Malumpati Inland Resort

2. Siraan Hot Spring. The town of Anini-y in the southernmost part of Antique boasts itself with the only hot spring in the province. It comprises a large and Jacuzzi-like swimming pools that provide a therapeutic feel because of its lukewarm sulfuric water that soothes your tired bodies after a long journey.

3. Nogas Island. Still in Anini-y, this mystical white sand island provide an underwater sanctuary for the divers who seek adventure and fulfillment. The coral formation and underwater gardens are stunning, but one may enjoy strolling along the sandy coast or the canopy of calachuchi that forms like a cave going to the lighthouse.

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View of Nogas Island from Siraan Hot Spring

4.White Water Kayaking in Tibiao. The first ever Philippine White Water Kayaking Competition was held in Tibiao, Antique because its river is ideal for that sport. One may enjoy her or his stay at Kayak Inn and explore the different adventures in the place such as the hot kawa, zipline, and white water rafting.

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The White Water Kayaking in Tibiao
http://www.ironwulf.net

5. Mt. Madia-as. This enchanted mountain which measures 7, 217 feet, is found in Culasi, Antique. This mythical height inundates the trekker with thrill while treading the path where the ancient deities once roamed the place. Mount Madia-as is a home to a diverse species of flora and fauna.

6. The Binirayan Festival. Celebrated during the month of April, this festival commemorates the arrival of the ten Bornean datus in Malandog, Hamtic, Antique. Antiquenos take pride of their roots as they dance to the beat and showcase the color, beauty and beat that is uniquely theirs.

7. Ati-atihan Festival. A religious and cultural festival, it is held every 3rd week of January in honor of Senor Sto. Nino. Locals, pilgrims and tourists flock together in Aklan to join the oldest and the wildest merry-making.

8. Manggahan Festival. Known to be the “Mango Country”, Guimaras Island promotes not only their heritage during the Manggahan Festival, but it gives emphasis to its industry that has placed the island on the map through its delicious mangoes.

9. Alubihod Beach. With its white sand and clear water, this beach in Nueva Valencia, Guimaras has become a popular destination for both local and foreign tourists. Alubihod Beach is now subdivided into several family-oriented resorts.

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10. Balaan Bukid Shrine. A huge cross on Mt. Mondolan in Guimaras, marks the Balaan Bukid shrine. It is a place famous for its re-enactment of Christ’s passion during Good Friday where many tourists climb the mountain for pilgrimage and also to enjoy the scenic view from the shrine’s chapel at the top.

11. Guisi Lighthouse. Located at the top of the mountain, the ruins of this 18th century lighthouse guides mariners passing through Guimaras Strait. Tourists will not only appreciate the history of this lighthouse, but they will find themselves charmed by the emerald waters and rock formations around.

12. Villa Igang. Be mesmerized by this cozy resort surrounded by lush greenery of every kind that nature can offer. Villag Igang, situated in Poblacion, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras, is itself the sanctuary of the President Emeritus of JBLF, where she seeks solace when she feels “the world is too much to bear” or when she feels the need to be recharged by nature, or when the romantic side of her beckons for an expression of those heart-rending pangs of joys through her brush and pen (yes, she paints and writes!).

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Villa Igang

13. Trappist Monastery. If you seek comfort and solace through meditation and retreat, this place, which is considered as the only men’s monastery in the Philippines run by the Cistercian Order of Strict Observance, provide you with solitude, far away from the toxic endeavours of the materialistic world. The monks also produce fruits that are then made into mango jam, guava jelly and other fruit snacks which you can purchase from their store.

14. Dinagyang Festival. Culture and religion play hand in hand in this very colourful celebration in honor of Senor Santo Nino which is held on the fourth Sunday of January. This award-winning festival has lured tourists from all over the world to join in the jubilation and experience Ilonggo hospitality.

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Posing with the Ati tribal warriors

15. Paraw Regatta. The colourful native sailboat, or paraw, becomes the principal attraction of this festival held in February. It is said to be the oldest traditional craft event in Asia, and the largest sailing event in the Philippines. Tourists will be stunned by the artistry of the Ilonggos through the designs painted on the sails of the paraw which seem like a moving paintings as these boats begin to race through the sea.

16. Calle Real. In contrast to the narrow streets of Calle Crisologo in Vigan, the street of Calle Real is wider, and the buildings have survived the ravages of time, preserving its unique design and gracious character. Shops are housed in century-old buildings along J.M Basa Street and Iznart Street. It is said that Jose Rizal, after his exile in Dapitan, stopped by Iloilo and bought a hat in 1896 when he returned to Manila.

17. Pilar Caves. A spectacular sight will surely take your breath away as you enter in the 200 feet high grayish black rock cliff of the mountain in Pilar, Capiz. Both historical and cultural, the caves served as the burial sites during the pre-Spanish time.

18. Masskara Festival. Highlighted by the MassKara Street Dance Competition, this festival celebrates life through the rhythm of the music and gyration of the masked dancers. Held every third weekend of October, the festival adds innovation, pomp and pageantry to the city’s Charter Anniversary.

19. Mambukal Resort. Known as the gateway to Mount Kanlaon, Mambuka Mountain Resort lies 1,200 feet above sea level situated in Murcia, Negros Occidental. Numerous activities such as swimming, boating, and wall climbing relax the family whenever they visit the resort, without forgetting, of course, to trek the seven falls.

20. Bakhawan Eco-Tourism Park. An outdoor getaway awaits tourists who want to escape Boracay and just indulge in a relaxing stroll along the mangrove tree-covered Bakhawan Eco-Tourism Park in Brgy. New Buswang, Kalibo, Aklan. The park offers tourists a tour of the 75-hectare mangrove forest through an 800-meter bamboo trail.

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