There’s nothing like an impulsive excursion away from the maddening crowd in the aim of preserving one’s sanity. Naturally once you have found a place that alleviates your whims, you would not think of leaving unless you lose interest in the constant carefree and blissful vibe that you normally absorb from an inescapable paradise like Boracay.
In a case like this, the best thing to do is to get off your comfort zone and discover other naturally gifted places outside of Boracay that will pique your interest. Once you return from your getaway you will realize how precious the feeling of soft powdery white sand hugging the soles of your feet or the dynamic sunsets that heighten your day with its psychedelic shades or the picturesque sparkling water that unfailingly soothes your senses and feel that you have deserved what you had subtly taken for granted.
You do not have to look any farther. Just cast your eyes on the mainland from the white beach and imagine a scenic cross-country motorbike journey along a concrete highway encompassing raw images of carabaos munching on grass in flourishing farmlands that lead to a variety of pool resorts beside the clean Nabaoy River that supplies water to Boracay, to the virgin forests and wildlife animals of Naasug Point, to the 7 swimming basins of Jawili Falls in Tangalan, and to the cascading natural cold springs resort of Hurom-Hurom in Gibon, Nabas.
However if you take a different route from the junction in Nabas where roads leading to Kalibo and Antique meet, then why not take the latter route for a change and experience the warmth and treasure troves of Pandan in Antique.
You can charter a van or a boat or take a jeepney ride to Pandan, which from Caticlan takes about 1 ½ hours. The best thing to do though is to rent a motorbike and trail on a dirt road adventure into narrow paths and virgin forests that open up to refreshing waterfalls, crystal-forming caves, hilltops and beaches for some aqua adventures, mountain climbing and hiking.
On Antique’s South China Sea coastline, behold the glittery sand and breathtaking sunset at Pandan Bay. Here you can revel in complete serenity where you will be warmly greeted by its locals, swim with the most delicious salt water fishes like yellow-finned tuna, talakitok, tanigue, and blue marlin, and witness a variety of shells and small marbles on golden sand that glows on your skin once you get off the water.
It is quite secluded. Yet so far only one resort exists in the midst of a few native houses and lush vegetation: Phaidon Villas and Resort.
Quaint, simple and homey are the adjectives to describe this lone resort. Perfectly molded in a classic fully-furnished Mediterranean Villa by the sea, Phaidon Villas Resort provides anything that you need and everything that you want in a deserted island. They offer International cuisine, beach sports, board games, snorkeling, adventure tours throughout Antique, company seminars and retreats, family affairs, private parties and deckchairs to provide an ideal relaxation with your chosen drink in Paradise.
Locals say that it’s so clean it’s a shame to rinse your dirty hands in it. Well, rightfully so, especially since it has been awarded as the cleanest Inland Body of Water in the Philippines by the President for Environment. In fact, the word bugang is synonymous to “Magnificent”, which by definition is an appearance of exceptional beauty.
Thus exceptional beauty and splendor Bugang River is. It is the ultimate pride of Antique in which cool turquoise water flows 5 kilometers from the subterranean river of the well-maintained Northwest Panay Peninsula Natural Park with unique river corals, besieged by virgin forests, aquatic plants, crystal rocks, fertile mangroves, and natural filter, due only to Pandan’s strict Eco-Tourism Master Plan to uphold the river’s purity and to guarantee the community of its cleanliness for safe drinking.
Malumpati Cold Spring Headwater
If other places in the Philippines boast its respective natural resources, may it be rice farming, copra supplying, pina fibers, marine sanctuaries, beaches, flourishing hill tops, endangered species, medicinal plants, a variety of vibrant flowers, then Pandan obviously covers most of these. Another evidence of this is Malumpati Cold Spring Head Water.
Situated in Sitio Malumpati, just a few kilometers away from Pandan Bay, Malumpati Cold Springs is akin to a magical lake-river that replenishes your energy and naturally produces medicinal healing properties straight from the adjacent panoramic mountain springs.
You can swim in its 10 meters wide and 40 meters deep fresh pool and innocently surrender to its natural gifts. Alongside this, you can hike up its surrounding forest in the midst of ferns, orchids, rattan and fig trees where you can explore mystical caves and discover and sight rare butterflies and the most endangered and endemic bird species like the Visayan Writhed Hornbill or Dulungan (Aceros Waldeni) and the Visayan Tarictic Hornbill or Tirik (Penelopides Panini), Bleeding Heart Pigeon and White-throated Jungle Flycatcher.which are only found in Panay and Negros.
Malumpati Cold Springs, like Bugang River is easily accessible from the main road. Just prepare a minimal entrance fee per person and ask the locals where these famous places are and they will gladly give you its directions.
Pandan Public Market
Vegetables, fresh and dried fish, sari-sari stores, drug stores, school supplies stores, restaurants, vulcanizing shops, pawnshops, boutiques, furniture and appliance stores, recreation halls native handicraft shops, name it, this rural super market has it.
And because Pandan prides itself of its abundant natural resources, prices of beef, chicken, seafood like fish, especially Bangus and Lapu-Lapu, squids, shellfishes, prawns, native products made of pina, abaca, buri, and bariw, and crops like rice, bananas, nipa, ube, cassava, vegetables, coconuts, and unrefined muscovado sugar (complete with vitamins and minerals) are inexpensive.
At last, knowing that such a haven exists, I can truly attest that Pandan is one of the best alternative destinations away from the island that we all love and cherish that is Boracay.