The message was loud and clear. Forget Boracay; well, it wasn’t really phrased that way but you get the gist. The province of Antique in Western Visayas was being promoted as an alternative to much-ballyhooed Boracay.
“Tourism is a new world for Antiqueños,” declared Antique’s provincial tourism officer RG Gayatin. “That’s why we have drafted a Provincial Tourism Code. We don’t want to go the way of Boracay. We want to do things right, and protect the environment.”
So, come to “unspoiled Antique,” with its mountains, greenery all around, beaches, dive sites acclaimed by foreign divers, falls, marine life, aquasports, clean rivers, bat and fish sanctuaries, corals, terradventures; and succulent, mouth-watering seafood.
The provincial governor is Exequiel Javier, brother of the iconic Evelio Javier, whose assassination in February 1986 was one of the powderkegs of Edsa I.
The media event was sponsored by the Provincial Tourism Office (firstname.lastname@example.org), 2GO Travel, and Kairosolutions of Anak TV fame.
APPROACHING the island, with the boat’s rosary in the foreground. Photo by Amadís Ma. Guerrero
The journey began at Batangas City Port with the 2GO Travel ship bound for Caticlan, Aklan. Cebu Ferry 3 has amenities which rival those of its bigger first cousin, the SuperFerry, including nightly entertainment under the stars (well, almost since the upper deck was open-air although it had a roof).
The first prime destination was the Culasi Archipelago in Antique, where we boarded a fishing vessel for the picturesque Malalison Island, 52 hectares, with a long sandbar and mountains with a graceful contour.
Upon arrival, a village elder blessed each of us by making the sign of the cross on our forehead with ginger mixed with a little saliva, whispering some prayers (oraciones) in Latin. It was the Luya Ritual, an age-old custom to ensure the visitor’s safe journey. (It is also...