Tib­iao: Panay’s one-stop-ad­ven­ture town

Text and photos by Hazel Villa

Cebu Living - - Travel -

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.

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