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Planta, From Ice Plant to Art Space

There's a burgeoning art scene in Roxas City. Following the successful run of the Visayas Islands Visual Arts Exhibition and Conference (Viva Excon) Biennale in November 2018 led by Black Artists Asia, the seafood capital is welcoming a new outdoor art space in the heart of the city. 
Planta is just across the river from the cluster of cultural heritage structures of Roxas City. It recently hosted Primero, an arts and crafts fair which formally introduced the murals painted by the group, Vinyl on Vinyl (VOV) of Manila with the help of fourteen local artists hand picked by Lloyd Develos. This project is the gift of Atty. Blas Viterbo who owns Planta, a former power station and ice plant, to his hometown.
The first mural (above) is of a hand lifting the curtain to reveal a wider perspective of what Capiz has to offer. Alternatively, it may represent how artists from neighboring towns perceive Capiz from an artistic point of view. A monitor lizard has planted itself on the hand of Dr. …

Island State-of-Mind

When your visit to a tropical island is extended, you develop an island state-of-mind. You wear flip flops from morn till bedtime, your shades are comfortably resting on your head on the ready, lunch of seafood on the beach is frequent and your hat is in the bag. But the hat has now been replaced with an umbrella as monsoon season is upon us bringing afternoon showers with it.
This is my view while eating lunch. My favorite here is the grilled tanigue fish and the Hawaiian pizza. When it rains, the island is shrouded in mist. So I go again to the Wayfarer when the forecast calls for a clear and sunny day.
The sweetest mangoes are from the island of Guimaras. And I was lucky to have received a few during the month of June when the market was flooded with mangoes.
Driving around the coastal towns is my favorite pastime. The coves of Ivisan are so picturesque. And there’s dried fish to buy along the road.
Basiao Beach In Capiz, everyday is beach day!
Here’s where I go during the Black Friday f…

The School on the Hill

It was after lunch when we decided to go and give school supplies to the children at an elementary school in the hills of Mararison Island. The climb was difficult under the sweltering heat but this view of the Antique coastline was well worth it. We hired an enthusiastic guide who made sure we saw as much of the natural beauty of the hills as we possibly could and in the safest manner. She also helped us carry some of the school supplies we prepared for the children.  The elementary school used to be by the beach until a typhoon devastated the island and destroyed the classrooms. The school was then rebuilt on top of the hill. There are concrete stairs to get there which are easy on young legs. We opted to take the unpaved trail lined with roots of overhanging trees because it was an easier climb but treacherous when wet. The trees provided shade from the heat.

There are less than a hundred students at the school. Only a few kids were at school on the day we visited as some of the chil…

Boracay Rejuvenated

White Beach Two days prior to the scheduled reopening of Boracay, we had the chance to take a day trip to what was hailed as the best island in the world for 2016 by Condé Nast's Readers Choice Awards. And we found this beautiful stretch of powdery white sand with nary a sunbather.
The island had been closed to tourists since April 2018 after the President of the Philippines remarked that it had become a “cesspool”. Unchecked growth and the 1.7 million visitors annually had left environmental damage to the tiny island. Nearly 6 months after the closure, Boracay was getting ready to receive visitors again.
We took an electric tricycle from the jetty through dusty backroads to get to a drop off point close to White Beach. These e-trikes are a welcome addition to island transportation.     
White Beach It was nice to see White Beach free of stalls and vendors. We weren't allowed to eat nor drink on the beach. So we sat under the shade of these palm trees and stared out to sea, took oc…

The Season for Sea and Seafood*

Beyond the sea-to-table cuisine that Capiz is famous for, the province serves a plateful of surprises to feed your wanderlust.

Gugma Beach Aptly named Gugma (Love), this off the grid stretch of warm grey sand in Sapian ticks all the right boxes for a splashing good time with its expansive views of the coastline and striking rock formations by the shore.


The White Sand Beaches of Ivisan Speaking of beaches, the town of Ivisan has fine white sand beaches bordered by palm trees. The laid-back vibe of Basiao, Ayagao and Patio beaches will please the consummate beachgoer. Pumpboats are available to explore the tiny shoreline of Maba-ay Island, just minutes from Basiao beach.

Ruins of Railway Bridge Once upon a time, there was a railroad connecting Capiz and Iloilo. Buses eventually replaced the trains which were finally put to bed in 1985. There are remnants of the supporting approach to a railway bridge in Dao, about thirty minutes from Roxas City. Hardwood pylons cut dramatically across the f…

When to go to Malumpati Cold Spring

There are so many exceptional beaches and swimming holes in and around Panay Island but I had never been to Malumpati Cold Spring in Antique. After checking out the attractions of Jawili in Aklan, we drove to Pandan which is a short distance from the border of Aklan province.
Everyone had the same idea as we did. Malumpati was insanely crowded. Summer break was well on its way and families were in the know where to cool down. Who can resist turquoise waters on a sweltering day?
I was naive to expect tranquil surroundings. I did find a little piece of heaven on the other side of the bridge that is enveloped by overgrown trees with hints of caves and my mind's idea of an idyllic day by the water. But it is not accessible to the public. Summer is not the best time to visit Malumpati nor weekends. I'll go back another day. Make that a weekday.

There's a minimal entrance fee to Malumpati Cold Spring. We paid 50 pesos for parking. There are people at the parking lot who say they…

The Hidden Charms of Aklan

Aklan has many attractions that tourists miss when they head straightaway to Boracay from the Kalibo International Airport. Lambingan Beach is just a few minutes down the road from the airport and the perfect spot to celebrate the blue hour. Or meet locals frolicking on the beach.

Tinago Lake in Batan is aptly named. Tinago means hidden and this lake is well hidden except to those who seek off the grid paths. We met two other visitors when we were in Tinago. It was easy to appreciate the expanse of lake and sky and harness the #bluemind in tranquil surroundings.

I enjoy shopping for pottery in this village because the prices are reasonable and the stall owners are open to bargaining and will even give an extra planter or two if you purchase a lot of pottery. Bayangan means "potter's wheel" and Lezo is the pottery capital of Aklan.

St. Isidore the Farmer Church is right next to the pottery market. It has served the parish community since 1910.

The cool plunge pools at Jawili …

The Enchanting Islands of Concepcion

The Concepcion group of islands is located east of Panay Island in the Visayan Sea. These 17 islands are part of the Municipality of Concepcion in the province of Iloilo. 

The sandbar on Bulobadiangan Island stretches across the sea toward Igbon Island. These islands have so far escaped the throng of sun worshippers. It was our only stop during our visit because Agho Island which is known for its white sand beach, was closed to visitors at the time and no one at the Tourism office knew when it would reopen. There is a P25 entrance fee per person to get off at Bulobadiangan and we had to bring our own food which one of the residents prepared for us for a P150 cooking fee. Cold drinks are available on the island.

Danao Island with its white sand beach looks inviting from the shores of Bulobadiangan. 
The peak of Mount Manaphag or Sugarloaf Mountain towers over Pan de Azucar Island and can be seen from the mainland. Pan de Azucar is the largest island in the group. Mountain climbing enthusi…