Driving from Iloilo City to Boracay via Antique Province. A detailed travelogue.

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Traveling to Boracay, Getting to Boracay,  Driving to Boracay, Boracay by road. Best route to Boracay. How to get to From Iloilo City to Boracay by road, by automobile, via Antique Province — our recommendations and narrative.

There are two road routes from Iloilo City to Boracay.  The almost universally used route is through Passi City and Kalibo to Caticlan.  The second is west across the mountains to San Jose, Antique Province and then up the Antique coast to Caticlan. Almost all Boracay-bound road traffic takes the Passi route.  It’s about 30 KM shorter and, from the perspective of the transport companies, it travels through a much more populated region offering much better prospects for more passengers than the thinly populated Antique route.  This narrative is from the perspective of travel by private car but should also be of interest to those traveling this route by bus or van to Caticlan (Boracay) through Antique Province.

On the way to Boracay – crossing the mountain cordillera separating Iloilo and Antique Provinces

Since private cars are banned on Boracay Island itself, almost all travel to Boracay is by air (over 200 flights per week to the small Caticlan airport alone), by bus or by the dozens of air-con vans that ply the Iloilo City-Caticlan route.  All of these use the Passi route.For travelers with their own vehicle, the Antique route is far preferable.  With the exception of a rough section of road crossing the Cordillera on the Iloilo-Antique border, the roads are much better.  But even more attractive are the natural beauty and enchantment and the many historical sites of Antique Province itself.  You’ll travel on good roads with little traffic through a unspoiled, idyllic landscape of undeveloped seashore, bright green rice fields with soaring mountains in the background.  You’ll pass through pretty, quiet, small towns with well-kept plazas, churches and schools.  There will be almost no tourist facilities because this area sees so few tourists.  If you stop at one of the towns to buy snacks the Antiqueños will be happy to see you.  You probably will not get away until they know where you are from, where you are going, how many children you have and every other detail of your life!

Leaving Iloilo City heading west on the National Highway, you’ll pass through the wonderful small towns of Oton, Tigbauan, Guimbal, Miagao and San Joaquin.  These are covered in other sections of this site.  Beyond San Joaquin proper you’ll come to pretty Tiolas (about milepost 60 KM)  where there’s an intersection.  Take the right fork leading toward San Jose, Antique.  (The left fork begins a wonderful but rough road along the coast to Anini-y, Nogas Island and eventually to San Jose, Antique. This a great trip in itself, if you have the time.)

After taking the right fork at Tiolas, the road begins its climb over the mountains almost immediately.  There are stretches of rough and rocky road.  During the first half of the trip over the cordillera, you’ll see trucks parked on your left, dining at a “Kandingan” roadside restaurant whose specialty is goat.  Toward the top, you’ll pass the San Bernadino Mountain House.While the road is rough you’ll find this is a well-populated area with villages and schools.  The residents enjoy a cooler climate, pretty mountain views and cleaner mountain water.

Cusinari Nena Restaurant on the right. A nice place to stop with a great view of the mountains.

Cusina ni Nena Restaurant on the right. A nice place to stop with a great view of the mountains.

Climbing over the mountains between Tiolas and San Jose Antique

Climbing over the mountains between Tiolas and San Jose Antique.  View from Cusina ni Nena Restaurant

On the road to Boracay. Welcome to Antique Province

By the time you reach the Iloilo-Antique border (11.8 KM from Tiolas) the road is good and continues to be good all the way to Caticlan.  Near the border is Telegrafo Hill, a Japanese position during World War II.  There are supposed to be good views from the hill, but we could not find a sign or trail. A small parking area, sign and trail would be a good amenity for tourism. From the border it’s all downhill to the intersection with the National Highway in Hamtic Antique.

On the road to Boracay. Vista from Hamtic highlands to Sulu Sea

At the intersection of the National Highway turn right toward San Jose, the capital of Antique Province.  You may wish to pause at a historic site commemorating (according to local legend) the landing in the 13th century of settlers from Borneo, said to be the Malays to arrive in the Philippines.  The annual Binirayan Festival celebrates the landing on the third weekend in April.

First Malay Settlement?  Malandog, Hamtic, Antique Province, Philippines

First Malay Settlement? Malandog, Hamtic, Antique Province, Philippines

Old Antique Provincial Capitol, San Jose, Antique Province, Philippines

Old Antique Provincial Capitol, San Jose, Antique Province, Philippines

Evelio B. Javier Freedom Park, San Jose, Antique Province, Philippines

The park seemed a bit neglected. Time Magazine article on the 1984 murder of Harvard-educated Javier at the Antique Provincial Capital: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,960710,00.html

San Jose itself, a nice enough small city, has the curse of most smaller Philippine cities.  It’s choked with tricycles, giving its downtown considerable traffic congestion, a constant din, and polluted air.

Beautiful old house, downtown San Jose, Antique.

Thanks to the owner for saving and maintaining this fine old building in San Jose, Antique

Thanks to the owner for saving and maintaining this fine old building in San Jose, Antique

Since we were traveling at a leisurely, lazy pace, exploring as we went, we decided to stay overnight in San Jose.  We stayed at the Centillion House.  We paid P1,000 for our basic, but clean and spacious air-conditioned room with hot water.  It seemed very secure.  There was a parking area for guests and a security guard at night.  We were worried that our pride and joy Toyota Innova be safe at night! A very basic breakfast (toast, juice, coffee) was included.  The hotel faces on two busy roads.  Also there was a small mall on the first floor so it was a little noisy, but we were not really bothered by the noise.  We stayed in room 208 which is toward the center of the hotel, as far away as possible from the traffic.

Centillion Hotel, San Jose, Antique Province, Philippines

On the road to Boracay. Centillion Hotel, San Jose, Antique Province, Philippines

The Adelaide Hotel and Tourist Inn was across the road from the Centillion, so we decided to take a look at it.  It is a quieter location, down an alley from the main road.  We were shown a “VIP room”.  There were smaller and cheaper rooms and bigger and fancier ones.  The VIP room was P850 without breakfast, with AC and HW.  It is smaller than our room at Centillion, but likely quieter.  A full breakfast at the Adelaide is P130 per person. Both are very good options.  Here’s a link to the Adelaide.

Adelaide Hotel (Pension House), San Jose, Antique

Adelaide Hotel (Pension House), San Jose, Antique

Based on a recommendation in the Lonely Planet Philippines guidebook, we had our dinner at Regina’s Restaurant.  I had shrimp satay which turned out to be more or less BBQ shrimp on a skewer. Carol had lengua — beef tongue.  We especially liked the achara made of young bamboo which was served as a side dish with my satay.  Achara is a pickled salad which is usually made with grated green papaya or green mango. It was delicious made with young bamboo.  With drinks our meal was P268 or the two of us.  Regina’s can be a little hard to find.  Just watch for the Chow King restaurant.  Regina’s is in a small mall immediately adjacent to Chow King on T.A. Fornier Street.  It’s walking distance from Centillion or Adelaide.

Friends highly recommended the Private Property Restaurant, about eight kilometers out of San Jose.  Call Jen Lotilla for information. 0906-726-8355.

After breakfast we continued on our way north toward Sibalom — or so we thought.  Actually we took the wrong road out of San Jose and ended up on a very pretty, but long and rough back road to Sibalom.  The countryside was exquisitely beautiful, but since we thought we were irretrievably lost, we did not stop to savor or photograph it.  We had to stop and ask for directions several times but finally made it back to the National Highway and Sibalom proper.  As we crossed the Sibalom River there was evidence everywhere of the damage done to the area by Typhoon Frank (Fengshen).

Sibalom and San Remigio, Antique, are mountain and agricultural communities of tremendous natural beauty.  Exploring the backcountry of these places will be a challenge to most foreign tourists and will likely require a local guide to navigate the unmarked roads and trails.  My Tagalog-speaking wife struggled to communicate with rural residents.

San Remigio is on our list for future exploration.  The official San Remigio municipal website tantalizes us with the following attractions: Igbaclag Cave, the perfect cave in the “Little Baguio of Antique”, Bato Cueva, Kanyugan Cave, Magpungay Cave; the crystal clear ice water falling from Pula Falls, Timbaban Falls and Batuan Falls, the lakes of Maylumboy and Danao; the legendary stone of Datu Sumakwel, Bato Bintana and White Castle Stone and the mountain ranges of San Remigio.

Back on the National Highway, we reached Belison, Antique at KM118.5.  (Note that the mile posts on the National Highway are measured from Iloilo City.  We are using the same.  Some maps, including the official Antique provincial map, show the distance as measured from San Jose.)

Municipal Hall, Belison, Antique Province, Philippines

Municipal Hall, Belison, Antique Province, Philippines

Bandstand, Belison, Antique Province, Philippines

Bandstand, Belison, Antique Province, Philippines

Our next stop was Patnongon, Antique. Bob worked 23 years for a historic preservation NGO in rural New York.  His eyes light up when he sees old buildings so Patnongon was right up his alley. St. Augustine Academy is the centerpiece of Patnongon.  The very helpful Panublion Project of the Ateneo de Manila University informs us that Patanongon was founded as a visita (outlying chapel) of Sibalon in 1761, Patnongon was placed under the patronage of San Agustin. It was made an independent parish in 1762, with Fray Francisco Amperosa as first parish priest but reverted as a visita of Sibalon in 1778. The parish was re-established in 1841 with Fray Joaquin Lopez appointed as parish priest.

Former Spanish Convent (now St. Augustine's Academy), Patnongon, Antique Province

Former Spanish Convent (now St. Augustine’s Academy), Patnongon, Antique Province

The St. Augustine Academy was built as a convent in the late 19th century as part of a larger church complex.  While we can regret the loss of other elements of the complex, the convent itself is a classical revival treasure.  Hopefully we can return and explore and understand more about the former church complex.

Former Spanish Convent (now St. Augustine's Academy), Patnongon, Antique Province

Former Spanish Convent (now St. Augustine’s Academy), Patnongon, Antique Province

Former Spanish Convent (now St. Augustine's Academy), Patnongon, Antique Province

Students ham it up for the camera. Former Spanish Convent (now St. Augustine’s Academy), Patnongon, Antique Province

Former Spanish Convent (now St. Augustine's Academy), Patnongon, Antique Province

Former Spanish Convent (now St. Augustine’s Academy), Patnongon, Antique Province

Abandoned stone building, Patnongon, Antique Province

Abandoned stone building, Patnongon, Antique Province

Just beyond St. Augustine’s, is a roofless, abandoned old building, crying out to be explored and explained.

Old Spanish stone bridge, Patnongon, Antique Province, Philippines

On the road to Boracay. Old Spanish stone bridge, Patnongon, Antique Province, Philippines

The National Highway and all its 21st century traffic still utilize this old Spanish bridge or culvert in Patnongon.

Between Patnongon and Bugasong a long winding side road leads to the mountain town of Valderrama and the Villa Valderrama Mountain Resort. Is this another Baguio? Valderrama is on our list for future exploration.  Evidently, the Valderrama resort was developed by the municipality.  A call to the provincial tourism office in San Jose may give advance information on the availability of lodging and meals at Valderrama: Mr. Florentino Egida, Antique Provincial Tourism Office, phone: 036-540-9765, email: tourism_antique@yahoo.com

Again heading north, the next town was BUGASONG (KM 139).  We got lost trying to find Estaca Hill in Bugasong, Antique.  We have a lot we want to see in Bugasong on our next trip, including the ruins of a c. 1867 Spanish church and convent.

Laua-an Antique Municipal Hall

After Bugasong, at KM 152, came Laua-an, Antique.  While Laua-an did not seem to have any specific landmarks, it was very impressive for the obvious pride that the residents and their government took in their town.  Everything was neat, clean and well-maintained.  The immaculate central school was a very visible symbol of the importance that parents, teachers and students place on educating the children of Laua-an.

With only a few exceptions, we found that the communities of Antique Province, which certainly must not be wealthy, were proud of their home towns and kept them them painted, landscaped, neat, clean and free of litter.

Clean, green and pretty Laua-an School

Clean, green and pretty Laua-an School

Laua-an Church, Antique Province, Philippines

Laua-an Church, Antique Province, Philippines

The sea on the left, rice fields, and mountains on the right...

On the road to Boracay. The National Highway follows the undeveloped Antique shore for 125 km with the ocean on the left and…

rice fields and the mountains on the right.  Between Laua-an and Tibao, Antique

Rice fields and the mountains on the right. Between Laua-an and Tibao, Antique

Gabaldon Building of Central School of Tibiao, Tibiao, Antique Province

Gabaldon Building of Central School of Tibiao, Tibiao, Antique Province

The residents of Tibiao, Antique deserve great credit for preserving this historic “Gabaldon” schoolhouse.  The school and its meticulously maintained grounds reflect pride in the community and also the importance the community gives to educating its young people.  Gabaldon schools were built throughout the Philippines during the commonwealth era.  Funding was provided as a result of a bill introduced by Assemblyman Isauro Gabaldon of Nueva Ecija which became known as the Gabaldon Act.  Many Gabaldon schools have been neglected and have fallen into disrepair.  Not so in Tibiao!  For more on Gabaldon schools see: http://gabaldon.blogspot.com/search?q=gabaldon

Tibiao, Antique Municipal Hall

Tibiao, Antique Municipal Hall

Enlargement of sign in front of Tibiao, Antique Municipal Hall

Enlargement of sign in front of Tibiao, Antique Municipal Hall

Another sign in front of Tibiao, Antique Municipal Hall.  It seems to give a public account of projects and expeditures.

Another sign in front of the Tibiao Municipal Hall in Tibiao, Antique. It seems to give a public account of projects and expenditures.

African Tulip Tree (Spathodea campanulata) in municipal plaza, Tibiao, Antique Province, Philippines

Tibiao Church, Tibiao, Antique Province. The tower in front seems to hold bells from a previous church.

Continuing north, Maralison Island comes into view.

On the road to Boracay. Continuing north, Mararison Island comes into view.

We had our binoculars with us when we had lunch at Neil’s (below) and were able to take a good look at Mararison Island.  It looks like a great place to visit with lots of white sand beaches and a considerable settlement on the easterly shore.  Unfortunately, it’s also where a cargo ship MV Ocean Papa sank on June 21, 2008 on it’s way from Manila to Iloilo City.  While the ship was salvaged, its cargo of sixteen metric tons of toluene di-isocyanate was not. While the vapors of TDI are hazardous to workers, we’re not sure of the impact of the liquid on marine life.  Phaidon Resort in Pandan (see below) is said to offer snorkeling trips to Mararison.  Also check with Panay Explorers.

Neil's Restaurant, between Tiabao and Culasi, Antique Province

Neil’s Restaurant, between Tiabao and Culasi, Antique Province

Places to dine between San Jose and Boracay are scarce.  We stopped at Neil’s Resto Grill twice, going to and coming back from Boaracy.  It’s located just beyond milepost 176KM, right on the shore. It offers traditional Filipino fare such as grilled fish, nilaga (boiled pork with cabbage and potato), KBL (kadyos, baboy, langka) boiled pork with beans, and young jackfruit plus rice, beverages and chips.  We enjoyed the food.  The prices are very reasonable.  We paid a total P135 (less than $3) for grilled fish, two other dishes, rice, buko (coconut) juice and coffee.  The owner and workers were very friendly.  Bob left behind his prized Nike baseball cap.  The pretty waitress ran after us to return it.   Neil’s is popular with buses traveling the route but this is not a problem.  I was surprised that most passengers did not get off the bus when it stopped at Neil’s.  There is good parking if you’re driving your own vehicle.  There’s a public restroom (CR).  It’s basic Filipino — no toilet seat or toilet paper but it’s kept quite clean.

Spectacular ricefield and mountain panoramas

Spectacular rice field and mountain panoramas continue for miles

Culasi, Antique Province with Panay's highest peak as backdrop, here shrouded by clouds.

Culasi, Antique Province with Panay’s highest peak, Mt. Madja-as, as backdrop, here shrouded by clouds.

Our next stop was Culasi, Antique (KM 188), a town back-dropped by Panay’s highest mountains and having several islands arrayed offshore.

If you’re interested in diving in the Culasi area contact: Panay Explorers: http://www.panayexplorers.com/index.htm

About five kilometers north of Culasi proper, watch for the turn-off to Lipata port.  It a short, pretty drive out to the Point.   See /culasi-antique/ From Lipata there are reported to be ferries to and from Manila and perhaps other destinations such as Semirara Island and Mindoro and the Cuyo Islands in Palawan.  You might try contacting Mr. Florentino Egida, head of the Antique Provincial Tourism Office, 540-9765, tourism_antique@yahoo.com for up-to-date information.  You might also stop by the Culasi municipal offices as Lipata Port is one of the few ports operated by the municipality rather than the Philippine Ports Authority.

Hard-to-see sign at turn-off to Lipata Point and Port, Culasi, Antique

Hard-to-see sign at turn-off to Lipata Point and Port, Culasi, Antique

Road to Lipata Point

Beautiful road leading to Lipata Point.  This is a great small side trip.

Dock at Lipata Point – the end of the road. Culasi mountains in the distance.

View from Lipata Point back towards mainland

Schoolgirl crossing a makeshift bridge at Lipata Point

There was a very active anti-Japanese guerrilla movement on Panay Island and elsewhere in the Pacific during WW II.  Douglas MacArthur determined to support and supply the guerrillas by way of Operation Spyron through submarine drops (and pickups) of personnel and supplies.  Lipata Point was the one site where drops where made.    Generally there was excellent cooperation between navy personnel and the Filipino guerillas.  Not so on Lipata Point in June, 1944.  Here’s an account of the incident from a fascinating online essay, Shadow Warriors – Submarine Special Operations in World War Two .  On June 10, 1944 the USS Narwhal left Port Darwin and started her 11th War Patrol. At Lipata Point, Panay, in the Philippines, several representatives of Colonel Peralta’s guerrilla army came aboard the submarine after the proper security signal was given and arranged for the transfer of Narwhal’s cargo to the Filipino bancas. Two guerrilla officers were left to help supervise the operation.

USS Narwhal

The Narwhal’s deck log noted the ideal conditions for the unloading of supplies – water calm, no wind and a short run for the boats that would carry the cargo to shore. In the ship’s patrol report, it was noted that the boatmen refused to load [their boats] to capacity, and when the boats were only about 15% loaded, the boatmen complained about the weight of their loads and shoved off for the shore. Arguing with the boatmen did not provide satisfactory loading results and eventually one sailor was placed in each boat to make sure they were loaded to capacity. The two guerrillas in charge of the procedure had no control over the boatmen, who seemed not to care about the cargo.  When the small boats returned to the submarine for additional loads, they were filled with sightseers who were left on deck while the boats that brought them returned to shore.

Sometime early in the morning before 0330 hours, the American officer in charge of the operation assigned two Filipino men to each drum of gasoline that was to be unloaded and indicated that they had to swim the drums ashore. Hearing this, the two guerrilla officers left on the first available banca. At this point, almost half of the cargo remained on deck plus the gasoline drums. The patrol report stated, “By 0335 the last boat had been loaded to capacity, about 15 tons, over the strenuous objection of the ‘Patron.’ Most of the shore party was put in the boat but about 20 men would not go willingly. After pushing a dozen or so overboard, the rest got the news and jumped, leaving all equipment behind. Shortly before 0400, the ship’s commanding officer ordered the remaining gasoline drums and boxes of carbines jettisoned as the Narwhal started moving out of the bay. About 30 tons of cargo were lost; the war report writer said it was 15 tons lost.

The Panay incident between Peralta’s guerrillas and the captain and crew of the Narwhal proved to be the exception to the overall successful special missions performed by other submarines involved in the Spyron Operation.

Douglas MacArthur choose to put Commander Chick Parsons in charge of his secret efforts to bolster guerrilla forces in the Philippines.  Parsons’ bravery and adventures were recounted in the book, Chick Parsons, America’s master spy in the Philippines, which unfortunately is out of print.  Parsons’ son Peter offers a DVD, “Secret War in the Pacific” which is available at a good price at http://www.libros.com.ph/bookdetails.asp?bookid=1100410298.  You can read about some of Parsons’ extraordinary adventures HERE.

Now back from Lipata Point to the National Highway and onwards north toward Sebaste and Boracay.

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Sebaste, Antique Municipal Hall

Sebaste, Antique (207KM) is a unprepossessing jewel of a community.  While Sebaste is the location of Igpasungaw Falls and certainly other attractions, for me the charm was more pervasive.  While the Municipal Building is just off the National Highway, the church and plaza are well off the highway forming a clean, unspoiled and peaceful center to the town.  It’s only steps from the church to the sea.  The entire tableau was charming. When I was there the church plaza was filled with school children.  The streets and plaza were clean and well kept.

Somewhere in Sebaste is Igpasungaw Falls, reported to be a 30-minute hike from the highway.  We did not see the trailhead and have not been able to find any online directions.  We’ll do further investigation on our next trip.  If anyone can give directions, please leave a comment below.

Pretty, tidy town center, Sebaste, Antique Province, Philippines

Pretty, tidy town center, Sebaste, Antique Province, Philippines

Our next stop is Pandan, Antique (222KM).  Pandan is one of those communities which has realized that protecting and publicizing its natural resources and maintaining its attractiveness is a good development strategy.  There’s a municipal tourism office in the middle of town.  We did not get to visit Malumpati Cold Spring Resort.  It appears to be a municipally-owned swimming hole mainly intended for day use, although there may be a cottage available.  You should be able to get information at the tourism office.

Environmental consciousness in Pandan, Antique

Environmental consciousness in Pandan, Antique

Pandan, Antique Municipal Hall

Pandan, Antique Municipal Hall

Freedom Park, Pandan, Antique, Philippines

Freedom Park, Pandan, Antique, Philippines

Clean and quiet side street, Pandan Antique

Clean and quiet side street, Pandan Antique

Green Park Hotel, Pandan, Antique

Green Park Hotel, Pandan, Antique

P1500 room, Green Park Hotel, Pandan Antique

P1,500 room, Green Park Hotel, Pandan Antique

The Green Park Hotel is located on the National Road in Pandan, Antique. Phone 036-278-96-16. We did not stay here on this trip, but wanted to check it out for future reference.  The hotel has beautiful views of the surrounding rice fields. It’s a very convenient location for those traveling from Iloilo to Boracay who get a late start or don’t want do do the trip in one day.

Monument to Gen. Leandro Fullon. Bagumbayan Crossing, Pandan Antique

On the road to Boracay. Monument to Gen. Leandro Fullon. Bagumbayan Crossing, Pandan Antique

Leandro Fullon, an Antique native, was the commanding general of all Filipino forces in the Visayas during the revolution against Spain and later fought against American invaders.  Read a fascinating account of the Philippine-American War at the following site: http://philippineamericanwar.webs.com/thewarinthevisayas.htm

Watch for this monument on your right after you leave Pandan proper.  The monument is at the intersection of two main roads.  If you go straight you’ll take the main, paved road direct to Caticlan, Aklan, the jumping off point for Boracay Island. If you turn left, you’ll head toward Libertad and a long, dusty or muddy (depending on the season) rough but scenic gravel road that also ends up at Caticlan.  We turned left toward Libertad because we planned to stay at the Phaidon Resort, 7 KM down this road.  (See the comment below from goILOILO reader Francis on the road from Pandan to Libertad and Malay.)

Bugang River, Pandan Antique

Bugang River, Pandan Antique

The Bugang River is said to be similar to Bohol’s Loboc River, a pristine stream traversing unspoiled tropical woodlands.  Cruises on the river are reportedly available through the Bugang Community-Based Eco-Tourism Organization.  Check with the Pandan Tourism Office or the Phaidon Resort.  Also see this link.

Mountains of the northwest penninsula

Mountains of the northwest penninsula

The Northwest Panay Peninsula west of Pandan, has received considerable attention from international conservationists. It evidently differs from much of the rest of other Panay mountains, being a limestone karst region with considerable remaining forest areas and a diversity of wildlife.  See the website of the Philippine Endemic Species Conservation Project for a storehouse of information on this area, including a teriffic page of links on Philippine conservation resources. PESCP says that “the last significant stands of primary, low elevation rainforest in the biogeographic region of the West Visayas, located on the northwestern peninsula of Panay, is habitat of a range of highly endangered, partly endemic species of reptiles, birds and mammals. It is one of the areas with highest conservation priorities in the world, both in terms of the number of endangered animals per unit area, and the degree of threat these species confront.”  They welcome support for their efforts.

Roadside chapel on the way from Pandan to Libertad, Antique

Roadside chapel on the way from Pandan to Libertad, Antique – minimalist Gothic!

Phaidon Beach Resort, Pandan Antique

Phaidon Beach Resort, Pandan Antique

We spent the night at the Phaidon Beach Resort.  To get there, turn off the main highway and go about seven kilometers in the direction of Libertad.  The road is rough but scenic.  We stayed in the cheapest available accommodation at Phaidon, one of the air-con cottages shown above.  The cottage cost P2400 including a basic breakfast.  The resort was very beautiful.  The design, landscaping and maintenance of was top-notch, exquisite really, but corners were cut in our “economy” cottage.  The cottage itself was pretty but the furniture and especially the bedding were skimpy.  The dim lighting made reading difficult.  This is a common problem in Philippine hotels.  In the future we’re going to bring our own reading light when we travel.  This is one of the many luxuries of traveling in your own vehicle.

Beach - Phaidon Beach Resort, Pandan Antique

Beach at Phaidon Beach Resort, Pandan Antique

I have one more complaint or perhaps it’s a suggestion.  It’s a problem that we have seen at other resorts with air conditioned cottages.  The windows in the cottages are sealed so when they are vacant they get no fresh air and end up being damp and musty.  There are no screens so you can’t turn off the air-con and open the windows, so you are forced to use the air con even if you’d prefer to open the windows and enjoy the sea breezes, saving the resort owner money and being a bit more “green”.

Cottages - Phaidon Beach Resort, Pandan Antique

Cottages – Phaidon Beach Resort, Pandan Antique

We were delighted with our dinner at Phaidon.  Some resorts gouge captive guests on meal prices, but our dinner at Phaidon was excellent and reasonably priced.  Carol had beef caldereta and Bob a German specialty.

In the morning we had breakfast at Phaidon, also excellent, and returned to the main highway at Pandan and headed toward Caticlan.

Phaidon Resort may arrange outings to various destinations such as Igpasungaw Falls and the Bugang River, snorkeling at Mararison Island and perhaps other destinations.

Friendly roadside labanderas in Nabas

Friendly roadside labanderas in Nabas on the way to Caticlan and Boracay

This image is the perfect place for a link to a charming short YouTube video about the joys of life in the provinces.  The photos are of Antique Province and the lyric sung in Kinaray-a, a local dialect.  I can’t understand a word of Kinaray-a, but this video practically brings tears of happiness to my romantic kano eyes.  Click —>> Pangabuhi sa Uma (Life on the Farm)

Caticlan RORO terminal. Roll on roll off vehicle and passenger ferries to Batangas

You can travel to and from Caticlan via these ferries.  The ferry from Caticlan lands you in Roxas, Oriental Mindoro.  You can take your own vehicle or use one of the buses plying this route.  Here’s a link to Montenegro Shipping Lines I found this site a bit buggy but finally got it to work.  From Roxas you can drive to Calapan, Mindoro and take another RORO ferry to Batangas on Luzon, opening up a host of further travel opportunities.  Or you could drive from Calapan to Puerto Galera. We’re not sure about the condition of the Calapan to Puerto Galera so if you you are, please leave a comment. Further information on the Nautical Highway System here – but it may or may not be updated.

If you drive to Caticlan (Boracay) you can leave your vehicle in a secure parking area.

If you drive to Caticlan (Boracay) you can leave your vehicle in a secure parking area.

If you drive to Caticlan (Boracay) you can leave your vehicle in a secure parking area.  These two parking areas are just a short distance to the Caticlan (Boracay) jetty port parking lot.  We used the Salido lot.  Most of their parking is under cover (but not ours), an advantage.  They charged us P100 per day.

New jetty port at Caticlan for travel to Boracay Island

New jetty port at Caticlan for travel to Boracay Island

We were quite spoiled.  We arranged to stay at the Tirol and Tirol Resort in Boracay.  The resort had a helpful employee waiting for us at Caticlan.  He handled our luggage, paid our fees, obtained a tricycle for us when we got to Boracay.  There are hundreds of places to stay on Boracay.  We like the Hotels Combined service which aggregates several reservation services.  Even if you’re on your own,  this relatively new jetty port makes transport to Boracay Island quite painless.  You’ll pay your “environment fee”, port fee and fare and get on the next pumpboat to Boracay Island.  After a 15-minute ride to the Cagban jetty on Boracay Island, you can take a tricycle anywhere on the island.  We’ll continue the Boracay part of our narrative here.

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  1. Beautiful detailed description of the Province of Antique. After reading your narrative, I feel I know this province already. The photos were spectacular! You mentioned that you will be visiting other interesting sites in the future. Have you returned to Antigue since this travelogue? Again, thank you for this wonderful article.

    Reply

    • I don’t know the schedule, but the Ceres Liners leave from the Iloilo Molo terminal to San Jose and Caticlan quite frequently. I use these buses to get from Iloilo City to Tigbauan where we live. Sometimes I’d just rather take the bus than drive. I can tell you that buses are leaving Molo very frequently throughout the day. You are unlikely to have to wait more than 15 or 20 minutes.

      Bob

      Reply

  2. hi,itsmy ist ever trip to bora on jan.with my friend.though with not much money,can u help me find a place where to stay esp.at night.simple yet relaxing place.and may i ask how much is the fare from caticlan going to iloilo by bus or van.

    thank u

    Reply

    • Bernadette,

      As I recall it, the bus fare is about P250. Sorry, I can’t recommend specific accommodations. The island is small so you can wander around bargaining for a place to stay. There are cheap places to stay. As a starting point, check Tripadvisor.com budget recommendations at:
      http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g294260-c2-Boracay_Visayas-Hotels.html

      The very cheapest places may not be listed. It’s going to be very busy during the Christmas/New Year vacation period

      Hope you have a good first trip.

      Bob and Carol

      Reply

      • Just thought will share this info as it happened that I asked the van fare from Ilo to Caticlan from the station itself ,it cost 350Php/person.

        Reply

  3. Hi there,
    I have been to Pandan, Antique twice (2010 and 2011) during my vacation breaks and have visited Malumpati Cold Spring and Bugang river and we stayed at Phaidon Beach Resort which just have undergone some renovations recently. The resort is okay. It’s peaceful and very relaxing though the accomodation is basic. Some rooms have aircondition and have cable tv. The meal needs to be pre-ordered.
    I’m planning to go back to Antique provice again this August 2012 but this time in the municipality of Culasi. Just wondering if you have any idea to suggest on how to go and visit the Island of Mararison off the town of Culasi. Is there any good size of motorised banca to rent and take us to visit the island??? Any idea if how much??? Please advise!!! Many thanks. Kind regards,

    Louie

    Reply

    • Louie,

      I understood that Phaidon Resort would arrange outings to Mararison. See http://www.island-dreams.com/index.php?site=page104.100. Mararison is a fairly big island and inhabited island so there must be pump boats available. My guess is that if you’d stop anywhere nearby where there is a small “native” beach resort or concentration of beached pump boats and ask for someone to take you out, that you’ll probably find many who would. When we took a pump boat to Nogas Island from Anini-y it was P500 round trip. Of course you’ll have to satisfy yourself as to the size and condition of the pump boat and the return trip arrangements. See http://www.silent-gardens.com/panay-maralison.php for another take on this.

      Please give us a report when you get back!

      Bob

      Reply

  4. Thanks for the tips and for taking us to caticlan with your little road adventure…..i know how to go now in bora for cheapest way…lol
    amazing…

    Reply

  5. Hi Bob & Carol,

    I grew up in Manila but was born in Pandan, Antique, a place I am truly proud of. Your blog made me nostalgic again of the summers spent in Pandan and travelling Panay Island. You put in reality a dream I have always nurtured – to give travellers helpful insights of this place I love so much.

    Thank you so much.

    Nel

    Reply

  6. Hi!

    I am planning a trip from Iloilo to Boracay this september and i would like to take the same route you did.

    I would like to hire a van and go there right in the morning.

    How long can i expect that the journey will take? And do you know how much they might charge for a van bringing me to Caticlan?

    Many thanks for your reply, kind regards

    Claus
    AUSTRIA

    Reply

    • Klaus,

      I’d just be guessing. A taxi might be P2,500, a van more. Time could be three or four hours one way. The taxis and van drivers like to drive very fast which can spoil the trip. They do this so they can make as many trips as possible per day, so if you want a leisurely trip you’ll have to pay more, perhaps for a full day, and try to get your driver to slow down. We do know a good taxi driver who is relaxed and careful. There are lots of vans operating out of the Molo bus terminal. Also at the Iloilo airport. Likely anything is possible through negotiation.

      Good luck

      Bob

      Reply

  7. hi. very informative article. wonder if you would know (as didn’t mention here) if there are available places to stay either in Sebaste or Culasi? thanks a lot. ;_)

    Reply

    • Rebie,

      We’re sure there must be local “native-style” beach resorts in Sebaste or Culasi, Antique, we don’t have any specific information. Sorry. Bob and Carol

      Reply

    • It somewhat depends on what Ceres Liner you take. If you take one from the Molo Terminal signed “Caticlan”, it may be faster than one labeled “San Jose” or “Bugasong” or “Pandan”. The problem is the buses are constantly stopping to leave off and pick up passengers. The Antique route from Iloilo City to Caticlan (Boracay) could easily take seven or eight hours. The fare is about P225. Buses from the Tagbak terminal taking the Passi City route to Caticlan may only take five hours. Perhaps the Antique route is better for those seeking a scenic route and having a private vehicle. The Passi City route might be better for those taking a bus to get from Iloilo to Boracay.

      Reply

  8. Thanks so much for your detailed report, my wife is from Iloilo and she was amazed and appreciative of the information you provided. We are planning to visit next month and would like to self-drive if possible, but have found it very difficult to find information on rental car providers in Iloilo City…We see that you did self-drive, so could you perhaps share how you managed to arrange that? Thanks in advance

    Reply

    • Sorry, we have not rented a car. We bought one and that’s what we used for our Boracay trips. Generally, the easiest thing to do is to get a car or van with a driver or hire a taxi by the day. There are transportation outfits represented at the Iloilo airport. Just ask around. Suzie Star Tours is a good possibility. (63-33) 336-0535

      Reply

  9. To say I am grateful is an understatement for featuring my Province Antique and seeing it’s beauty and telling it to the world. Thank YOU!

    Reply

  10. i’m so glad to found your website because i wanted to go home next summer after 10years of absence in my home province. the photos make me feel soooo homesick…

    Reply

    • Hearing from people like you, homesick people who like to see photos of their hometown, is one of the real satisfactions of our blog!

      Reply

  11. thank you for your profound info about panay. the abandoned building in patnongon is the old municipal hall during Spanish regime.

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  12. The best!!proud to be karay-a! Nice pics!!!!!awsome views of my birthplace!thank you for this site!

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  13. WOW!! I love this site!! I have been through that route. I always do. I love how you showcased the simple beauty of Antique especially the photos from Patnongon and Culasi because those are our place in Antique. THANKS!

    Reply

  14. Pingback: Updated – Iloilo City to Boracay via Beautiful Antique Province | My Philippine Life

  15. i like your post…we would like to be ther too in Bora by SEpt 09 afternoon flight with my family ..we are 6 with 2 children…our flight arrival in Iloilo City is 3pm..is is possible for us to proceed to caticlan-boracay after arrival by riding a bus or van…how much would be the cost? If in case we arrive evening in caticlan port…can we possibly stay a pension house only or a cheapest overnight stay before riding a boat to Bora early in the morning? and how much is the cost also for our overnight stay? In Bora beach we dont need to stay because we plan to go back to iloilo that day…could that be possible? hoping for your info in this,,thanks a lot..

    Reply

    • that depends if you want to take public transportation or go for private one’s . there are buses plying the iloilo to pandan route. and from pandan to caticlan route. there are affordable fares for the buses but i suggest you take the ceres liner since it’s more comfortable (though it tends to get crowded in the iloilo to san jose leg of the route, from san jose to pandan the buses aren’t as crowded.) you can also opt for air conditioned vans (although i’d prefer the bus for sight seeing). hotels are not really available but you have pension houses and resorts are available.

      Reply

  16. a very nice review of your iloilo-boracay trip. i wish we can also do that but we are only travelling via public bus.

    anyway, thanks for this. it convinced me to take that trip from iloilo to boracay instead of just staying in iloilo then to guimaras island.

    Reply

  17. I really enjoy your website and informations are very helpful. My husband is a retired military and currently working in DC as an analyst manager. I am originally from Santa Barbara Iloilo but grew up partly in Baguio City. I left Phil in 1982 and the last time I was in Iloilo was in 2005.

    We are thinking of retiring in the Philippines and looking at Cebu and Iloilo.

    The step by step explanations of building your house is very informative, expenses, etc….

    Thank you so much…and God bless you and your wife.

    Charette

    Reply

  18. Just for your information there is a lounge outside the iloilo airport where one can wait for several hours. The taxi ride to Sibalom should cost no more than 1300 pesos. You need to bargain. Trip is 104 km to Sibalom.

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  19. Hi!. We will be going to Boracay dduirng the Holy Week. From Boracay, we will be going to Iloilo City (Iznart) for a college reunion. I would like to know how to go to Iloilo City from the Caticlan port and how much per head will the ride cost? Thanks!

    Reply

  20. Hi: I am arriving iloilo airport about 3.5 hours next week with Cebu Pacific ahead of my wife on PAL and wondering once you exit with your luggage is there a place at the airport to wait indoors rather than exit the airport with luggage. Also can you tell me if it safe to take cabs to Sibalom and how much would it costs. Thank you.

    Reply

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