Sunday, April 27, 2014

Island Life

I didn't expect to come home this April. There were so many things to be done in Manila that I was afraid I would have to stay in the city for the next two months. But then I found myself rushing home for the Holy Week and enjoying the next few more weeks here before I'm needed back in Manila.

This week, we celebrated the Aklan Pina Fiber Festival, an annual crafts and trade exhibit that coincides with Aklan Day (basically the day when Aklan separated from its mother province Capiz). This year is Aklan's 58th anniversary and I'm glad to be a part of it. Most people think of Boracay when they think of Aklan:

(Frankly, I can't blame them.)

But there are also plenty of other places in Aklan that's worth a visit. If you ever find yourself in Aklan with a few days to spare, here are some sites you can check out:

Museo It Akean. (History/Culture) The little museum by the edge of Kalibo's town plaza is a good place to start. The ground floor houses a historical and geographical exhibit on Aklan (and occasionally, an art gallery and/or a traveling exhibit). A more detailed look at Aklanon history and culture can be found up the grand staircase. The artifacts and memorabilia found there can give you a crash course on provincial life. Other nearby places of interest are the Kalibo Cathedral, should you wish to pay homage to the Sto NiƱo, and the Kasafi Office on the second floor of the Mijares Building across the plaza, where you can see colorful Ati-Atihan costumes on display.

Bayangan Village. (Culture/Trade) Lezo is Aklan's smallest municipality (and it's also my father's hometown). You may not think that there's much to visit here, but a quick stop at the Bayangan Village where they make clay pots and jars is worth the side trip. Located to the left of the Lezo Church, this is a small strip of pottery workshops leading down to the Aklan River. You can watch the potters at work and bring home a souvenir or two! Plus it will really make you feel like you're in a very peaceful small town.

Row of potters

Tangalan Church. (History/Religion) Guests on their way to Boracay via Kalibo pass through Tangalan, where one of the oldest churches in Aklan is found. The edifice of the St John the Nepomucene Church was finished in 1889. Also found in Tangalan are the Jawili Falls with its seven basins (when I was very young I slipped on the third basin and never dared to climb higher) and the Afga lighthouse and rock formation.

St John the Nepomucene Church

Katunggan it Ibajay. (Nature) Ibajay has a 44-hectare mangrove forest that will make you feel like you're really in the middle of nowhere. There's an elevated footpath that can take you through the forest. There's another mangrove forest in Kalibo called the Bakhawan Eco-Park, in case you don't have the time to drive all the way to Ibajay.

Cold Springs. (Nature) If you're tired of beaches, try the cold springs found in Nabas. Hurom-Hurom is probably the most famous one, with a huge pool that acts as a catch basin for cold water coming from the mountains. Lots of locals come here, especially during the summer.

Trying to list all these places makes me realize that I can't get them all down in just one post! I'll try to post other suggestions soon (and maybe try to find some pictures). If I had all the time to travel, I'll definitely start in my own backyard.

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