Tibiao: Panay’s one-stop-adventure town
Text and photos by Hazel Villa
Nestled in the verdant valleys of what they call “the province where the mountains meet the sea” is a quaint town that is fast gaining a reputation as a one-stop location for a wide variety of adventures ranging from the calm and relaxing to the thrilling and nearly death-defying.
Tibiao is a town in the Western Visayan province of Antique, which is popular for its bakeries, and where currently, a new tourist spot is fast rising: the Tibiao Fish Spa, the world’s most a ordable sh spa. It all started when Flord Nicson Calawag, Victor Marco Emmanuel Ferriols, and Rex Delsar Dianala, three young graduates of the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences of the University of the Philippines in the Visayas, used seven crossbred local species they named Therafish to use in a spa therapy, instead of the very expensive garra ru a sh from the Middle East that most sh spas use. They named their venture the Tibiao Fish Spa. Pretty soon tourists came in droves to the spa, and the three college friends had the time of their lives explaining to them the bene ts of having thousands of small sh with sandpaper-like teeth nibble o dead skin, calluses and cuticles, and how these “exfoliating agents create a soothing feeling similar to weak but constant electric jolts.” Even the most staid and serious couldn’t help but giggle at the sensation caused by the friendly shes.
Aside from the sh spa, Tibiao has a wide range of activities that not only complement the spa’s calming e ect, but also provide a thrilling experience. For those seeking a relaxing “metime session,” there’s pottery and brick-making, sunset viewing at Tiguis Beach, walking in the Malakagat Hanging Bridge, caving at Manlamon Cave, and taking a dip in the very popular kawa hot bath. Those who fancy themselves to be the more adventurous sort can go trekking or swimming in both the scenic and lush Tibiao River and the fascinating seven-tiered Bugtong-bato Waterfalls. Boulders found in the river are so huge that the natives already call it “cli diving” every time they climb the boulders and jump o into the water.
Whitewater kayaking is the trademark adventure of Tibiao, with its swirling waters perfect enough for competition levels that the 1st Philippine International White Water Kayaking Competition was held there in 1997. A more relaxing alternative to whitewater kayaking in the Tibiao River is seaboating at Malabor Coast where the beach’s calm waters is just right for lessons in getting acquainted with oars and “steering” a kayak.
Whitewater kayaking in the Tibiao River is starting to become popular among young people who come from Boracay and Iloilo. Adventure enthusiast, Cheiradee Villanueva says, "Kayaking is a great way to de-stress. There is just so much to do in Tibiao that three days is not even enough."
For just P1,499, a guest can enjoy four adventures out of the 10 o ered by Tibiao Adventures. On the other hand, it costs P2,799 for two days and a night stay and P3,399, for three days and two nights.
Veteran tour operators and weekend warriors Sera n and Carol Deduro summarize the whole Tibiao Adventure ttingly: Not a single boring moment in the most relaxing place ever.