OFF THE BEATEN TRACK: The Great Backpacking Adventure to Pandan, Antique in the Philippines

7:00:00 AM Pinoy Boy Journals 4 Comments

OFF THE BEATEN TRACK: The Great Backpacking Adventure to Pandan, Antique

The Road Less Traveled:
A backpacking odyssey three hours from Boracay is the gateway to one of Philippines' most unexplored destination, Pandan, Antique

Photography and Written by: Jerik de Guzman

To some, traveling always has to be exclusive to the usual destination, the prime spots; isn’t traveling about exploration and discovering something new, that one great adventure, the sudden rush of getting lost in an unfamiliar place, the challenge and triumph to eventually conquer your fear and find your way back home? As it is said in the cult favorite amongst backpackers “The Beach”, Richard says “we want to try to do something different but we wind up doing the same damn thing”.
If you’re tired of the frenzy and the larger than life experience “Bora” lures its worshippers then maybe it’s about time you discover something new, the great backpacking adventure to the town of Pandan in the quiet province of Antique. Have you heard about it? No? I thought so too.


How to get there
Three hours is all you need from Boracay and you’re there. From the crowded Caticlan Jetty port you can find jeepneys and buses en route to different towns and neighboring provinces like Roxas, San Jose, Ilo-Ilo among others. Ask for a jeepney that’ll take you to Nabas, your first stop, located right in the middle of the highway where one can transfer going to succeeding towns up north or down south. Private taxis and motorbikes can be hired, but its best advised to wait for public jeep-trucks to get a feel of the real provincial life.  They arrive roughly every 15 minutes so it gives you a little time to cool off and stretch your arms and legs not to mention meet locals. Tell the driver or to the conductor that you’re going to Pandan, Antique. You’ll more or less be dropped off at the intersection. From there, you can hire a jeepney, “habal-habal” (motorcycle most popular in the Visayas), a taxi or the most recommended of all, an air-conditioned Xeres bus to cool you off from the midday sun. They will drop you off to your liking; anytime, anywhere in Pandan, Antique.

The Destination
Just three hours land trip and you’ve officially arrived in the municipality of Pandan in the lovely province of Antique gracefully called “the hidden paradise of Panay”. This curve shaped province is often overshadowed by its more popular neighbors like Ilo-Ilo, Aklan, Capiz and Guimaras. But Antique definitely has its wonders and surprises that will surely amaze onlookers and travelers alike. This little side of the Panay region has been yet untouched by commercialism. Tourism is slow but it has been gaining quite a following from soul searchers and backpackers circumnavigating Visayas trying to find an untapped destination away from the tourist crowd. It is definitely a juggernaut tourism prospect waiting for its time to shine, with an eco-tourism to boast via the coastal town on the west and mountainous region bordering the province of Aklan to the East, it’s a great mystery why this spot hasn’t been regarded for its astonishing beauty.

Where to sleep
Accommodations may be scarce to find, five star amenities are a dime a dozen, one of which is Phaidon Villas and Beach Resort world class resort with very affordable prices and very accommodating staff. For backpackers, haggling is most welcome. Surprisingly, a presidential suite can be paid with your basic fan room payment if you’re good at bargaining. The resort is located in the heart of Duyong Beach, a relatively less developed beach with very few people. So for those who are tired of the hustle and bustle of Manila life, this may be the perfect relaxing place to spend your long weekends or even weeks of stay because you’ll surely extend your stay. For further information regarding the province, head to the tourism office at the town center or better yet ask around from the locals, a little Tagalog and few hand gestures will point you to the right direction.


Island Life
A good place to camp around is in Batbatan Island, roughly less than an hour affordable speed boat ride from Duyong beach, one can experience the ultimate Robinson Crusoe feel. Hire a guide and cook fresh seafood served in banana leaves, and drink fresh coconut juice from the tree. Chill in the powdery sand beaches and then try spelunking in one of the natural caves and anchorages lined up in the jungle. Learn customs and traditions from the cultural minority called Tangays who call this breathtaking island their home. Get a good night’s sleep as you watch the stars and wake up in the morning to get a glimpse of the awe-inspiring show as migratory birds flock to their nest to the other island.

The town is blessed with so many amazing wonders any man would want to see, from the unspoiled beaches, curious coves, and intact coral reefs, any beach bum or sun kissed traveler would favor the golden beaches of Duyongand Manglamon to the multi-colored coral reefs of Nogas and Batabat.

Wander around
Embrace the town, walk around and you can see fishermen with their rods and fresh catch for the day, farmers burnt from the heat of the sun, women weaving their baskets and little trinkets while little kids playing around in the green fields. After a long day of sun, nothing can be more refreshing than having a dip in the cool waters of Pandan’s notably most prized possession, one of the cleanest inland body of water in the country, the Bugang River. Be prepared to carry with you fresh ginger slices though as locals believe it is an offering to the gods.

Highs and Lows
For the extremists, one may take the challenge down below by white water rafting while crashing with the rapids of water from the falls streaming the jagged riverbed. Others may enjoy the view from above, climbing may perk up their urge and valor to conquer extreme heights, nothing can be more challenging than to trek Mt. Madia-as, the region’s highest mountain. Towering at 2117 meters above sea level, a spectacular view of the lush green virgin forest, the amazing dotted islands and its coastline, and the turquoise waters of the 

Great Visayan sea is waiting for you to see at the top.
Pandan has a long way to go before it reaches its share of limelight as a tourism hotspot. Somehow, this is regarded as an advantage to real backpackers and travelers, a virgin land he can call his own, a land of a promise of waking up to a beautiful quiet morning, a real decent and honest conversations, embracing the culture and surroundings in peace and serenity.

For serious backpackers, this destination is a good venue to test you how far can you go out exploring, because Pandan amongst other more exquisite things it boasts off is willing to share everything it has to offer, that is if you still got more time.

21-25 Of February is The annual Tugbong Festival ( Pandan’s local version of a the Mardi Gras)
30 km. distance from Caticlan
55 km. distance from Kalibo, Aklan
124 km. distance from San Jose, capital of Antique
126 total land area of the town
5712 Pandan Antique Zip Code

“habal-habal”, the unofficial most popular mode of transportation going around, feel free to hop in
Malumpati health spring for its supposed medicinal property to heal all sickness
Kiniray-a Pandan’s own native dialect, may also be called Kinaray-ang Pandananon but retains Hiligaynon as Antique’s native language
Bugang River President’s Awardee for Environment “Gawad ng Pangulo sa Kapaligiran”
Weird and funny trick or treat Pandananon style is mumbling of scary tunes and words/phrases when visiting houses around on the eve of All Soul’s day


adamnshame said...

Good information and well put!!!

shit my comment got deleted... anyway yeaahhhhhmannnnn first time to comment here.. yo yo yo so what's shakin back there??? so saw the video of the awesome club experience with your friend dj spinnin'. tell e-kreisel he's really good. will see if i could hook him up with events company here in manila, that was some electro shit. keep bloggin' adam, its been a week!

I enjoyed reading your post! Antique is a bit of a scary place for me to go because I don't have any relative there.

@Cdokay don't worry! i don't have any relatives there too, when i went there. but it's okay, the people there are friendly. not a lot of tourists that side of visayas! Would love to check out CDO soon! Cheers!