Visiting These Rice Terraces Require You To Cross Five Mountains

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For adventure seekers, the province of Antique offers an excellent ecotourism destination. Despite its proximity to major tourist hubs like Kalibo and Iloilo City, the province has managed to retain its rugged and “off-the-beaten-path” charm that appeals to intrepid travelers.

Located in the Panay Island of the Western Visayas Region, Antique offers a little bit of everything. It continues to surprise even those who have been there, with stunning natural spots recently “rediscovered” and exciting new attractions being developed to cater to the growing number of tourists.

READ: Antique: 6 Things You Can Only Do in this Overlooked Province

If you’ve already visited the tropical island of Malalison, rafted down the rapids of Tibiao River and soaked in a kawa (jungle hot tub bath), here are some other unique activities you can do in this underrated province.

1. Bask on the beach of Seco Island

If you’re willing to brave a two and a half to three-hour boat ride, you can visit the stunning Seco Island, a small reef atoll that’s been declared a Marine Protected Area in Tibiao, Antique.

Seco Island, Tibiao, Antique

Seco Island, Tibiao, Antique | Photo by Tonzie Gay

Named after the Kinaray-a (local language) word for ‘elbow’ because of its shape, Seco Island’s 1.5 km-long beach is covered with fine white sand giving you a clear view of the sea in the shallow portions. The area is surrounded by hectares of corals and is ideal for day tours, beach outings, and kitesurfing.

Tip: Boats bound for Seco Island depart at around 2:30 in the morning, so you can enjoy the beach in the morning, before it gets too hot. Bring your own picnic lunch and be sure to take all your trash back!.

2. Hike to the Antique Rice Terraces

You’re probably familiar with the rice terraces in Banaue and the Cordillera region, but did you know that there are rice terraces in Antique?

The Antique Rice Terraces is a cluster of rice terraces spread in a combined area of 600 hectares. It has been preserved by the Iraynon Bukidnon, an indigenous group in Barangay (village) General Fullon, a remote mountain village in San Remigio, Antique.

Antique Rice Terraces, San Remigio, Antique

Antique Rice Terraces, San Remigio, Antique

Getting here involves a trek of four to five hours crossing five mountains, but if you’re a mountaineer up for a challenge, then visiting this natural wonder should be at the top of your list. The terraces are located in a valley beside two waterfalls, Iglangit and Igtamoni, which supply the “taramnan” (rice fields) with water.

The terraces are close to the head spring of the Sibalom River, which is abundant with freshwater fish and shrimp. The community here is truly off-the-grid. They have no electricity and many households here live off the land, making a visit here a truly unique experience.

Tip: Combine your sightseeing and hiking trip with something more meaningful. Because ot its remote location, the community appreciates donations in kind such as medicine, food, rubber slippers, school supplies, and toys for children from those planning to do homestays.

3. See a species of the world’s largest flower in bloom

The Rafflesia is known as the world’s largest flower, with some species in other countries like Borneo growing up to 3 feet across and weighing up to 15 pounds. Interestingly, Rafflesias are parasitic plants without any leaves, stems or roots.

Rafflesia Speciosa Antique

Rafflesia Speciosa, the world’s largest flower, in Antique

There are 28 species of Rafflesia in the world found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. Brgy. Aningalan, known as “Antique’s highlands” and the “summer capital of Antique” because of its cooler temperatures is home to the rare and critically-endangered Rafflesia speciosa and endangered Rafflesia lobata. Consider yourself lucky if you get to see one up close, as these oddly beautiful flowers are known to bloom for only 3-5 days at a time.

Tip: The Rafflesia blooms all year-around, but the best chance to see it is during the months of December to April.

4. Relax by the Riverside at Naranjo Water Park

Bugang River is a Hall of Famer awardee for being one of the cleanest rivers in the Philippines, with lush forests protecting the river’s headspring. A local favorite swimming hole is the Malumpati health spring, where adrenaline-junkies like to jump off from a diving platform or treetops into the clear waters below.

Naranjo Water Park, Pandan, Antique

Naranjo Water Park, Pandan, Antique

Naranjo Water Park is a relatively new water park located along the river in Pandan, Antique where you can experience ecotourism activities such as stand-up paddle-boarding, river kayaking, paddle-boating, and river cruising aboard bamboo rafts. The water park also contains a riverside restaurant on stilts.

Tip: In between your water activities, chow down on a lunch of Filipino fare and exotic delicacies including sizzling ostrich and crocodile!

5. Take a Dip at Igpasungaw Falls

For those who want to commune with nature, take a hike and head to waterfalls hidden in the mountains. Located in the unassuming town of Sebaste, Antique, Igpasungaw Falls offers a scenic spot to take a dip. Unlike some other spots that require challenging treks, getting here is an easy thirty to forty-five-minute trek through forested trails.

Igpasungaw Falls, Sebaste, Antique

Igpasungaw Falls, Sebaste, Antique

There are more than nine cascading waterfalls to explore here, with basins around two meters deep where visitors can swim. Some of the smaller cascades are coated in slippery moss that make it easy to slide down into the cold pools below.

Tip: After a day of hiking, take it easy at night. Book a stay at Kawa Inn, a native resort where you soak in a kawa (hot bath) and enjoy a spa session from locally bred “Therafish” at the Tibiao Fish Spa all in the same location.

6. Scale up the Peak of Igbaclag Cave

Igbaclag Cave is a natural tourist spot with karst rock formations that can be found in Barangay Aningalan in San Remigio. The site, which is surrounded by several picnic cottages and forest trails, is managed by the Aningalan Community-based Tourism Organization.

Igbaclag Cave, Aningalan, San Remigio, Antique

Igbaclag Cave, Aningalan, San Remigio, Antique | Photo by Tonzie Gay

For the more adventurous, the karst formations here pose a unique cliff scrambling challenge to scale up up to the peak of Igbaclag Cave. But once you get to the top, you will be rewarded by a spectacular view of the forest, which form an essential connection between Sibalom Natural Park and the forests of the central Panay mountain range further north.

Tip: The karst rock formations are very sharp so make sure to wear sturdy footwear if you plan to climb up the cliffs.
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About Author

Kara Santos

Kara Santos is a freelance writer and photographer. When not on the road or motorcycling somewhere off for the weekend, she’s leveling up her experience points in the latest PlayStation RPG. Read her real-life and virtual adventures in her blog Travel Up.