The story behind the name “Antique,” as passed down through generations, was that it originated from Hamtic, a species of large ants (hantik-hantik) that abound in the area. 

Antique is home to the indigenous tribe of the Iraynon Bukidnon, responsible for creating the only rice terraces cluster in the Visayas. There are four terraced fields to be found in this province – the General Fullon Rice Terraces, the Lublub Rice Terraces, the Bakiang Rice Terraces, and the San Agustin Rice Terraces.

The Binirayan Festival

Antique is host to the Binirayan Festival, a month-long festival that starts in early December. It commemorates the arrival of Bornean datus and honors the Malay roots of the Antique locals. The term binirayan literally translates to ‘where they sailed to,’ referring to where the Bornean datus sailed to upon arriving at Panay Island. 

The festival opens with a parade from the Pantalan Port to Malandog Beach, believed to be where the ancestors docked. This glorious celebration continues with theatrical street plays where performers are adorned in full Malayan costumes and traditional rituals are performed in Binirayan locations. By the sea, a colorful flotilla attracts onlookers. Street dancing competitions, beauty contests, exhibitions of local arts, crafts and products complete this month-long festival.

Awe-inspiring Reasons to Visit Antique

Antique offers abundant reasons for you to come and visit. There are beaches a-plenty to satisfy your lust for sea and sun, as well as adventures on both water and land.

Reason #1 – The Island Calls

Mararison. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Commonly known as Mararison by the locals, this area of grass-covered rolling hills (called Lantawan), stretches of white sand and pebble beaches, various rock formations, and a shifting sandbar beckons you to throw your cares away and soak in the land and waterscape. Swimming, snorkeling, and trekking to a 360-degree view of the entire island are just a few of the activities waiting for you.

Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Reason #2 – Something’s Fishy 

Visit the Tibiao Fish Spa, a popular tourist spot in Antique. Give your feet some feel-good time as you dip them in water teeming with Therafishes that feast on the dead skin from the soles of your feet. It may tickle at first, but the end result will give new life to your tired soles.

With its clear, clean, and fast-glowing waters, the Tibao River is the perfect spot for whitewater rafting. Guides are available to help you wade through the currents and to make sure that you are safe and sound throughout your kayak adventure.

Reason #3 – I’m Falling for You

Igpasungaw Falls is a series of waterfalls within the rainforest. Each level of waterfall has its own catch basin that is ideal for either swimming, cliff jumping or waterfall sliding. Try one or try them all. Getting there is half the fun and adventure as you take a 45-minute trek through farms and forests, mini waterfalls, bamboo bridges, and rivers. 

Reason #4 – Have Some Clean Fun

Bugang River is recognized as “The Cleanest Inland Body of Water” in the Philippines. It is also a popular destination for river tubing. Start out by going with the flow of the blue-green lagoon, and head on to the rushing rapids as you marvel at the lush vegetation along the riverside. Your destination stops once you reach the Malumpati Cold Spring.

Reason #5 – Getting Cold Feet and More

Popular with local and foreign guests, the Malumpati Cold Spring features a cold and refreshing freshwater pool along a calm river. Guaranteed to cool you down, this is a must-visit venue during the warm summer season. Try the diving platforms along the pool, and for thrillseekers there are more exciting activities to try such as a zip line, wall climbing, and rappelling. For a day or overnight stay, huts are available.

Reason #6 – The Pleasure Island

A white sand beach awaits you at Nogas Island. Swim to your heart’s content, go snorkeling, and discover a bounty of corals and rich biodiversity. On the island itself, explore the area as you trek through a Kalachuchi-lined trail where you will find a lighthouse with a fascinating view of what lies below this island. Near the lighthouse, have yourself photographed with the 100-year old Balete tree in the background.

Reason #7 – All Soaked Up 

Kawa Hot Bath. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

A Kawa (cauldron) Hot Bath is a must when you are in Tibiao River. Originating from this province, the Kawa Hot Bath gives a relaxing and rejuvenating experience for your skin. Soak in a large kawa filled with lukewarm water, flowers, and a choice of other ingredients such as herbs, beer, kalawag (turmeric), wine, milk, coffee or salt. A firewood is lit underneath the kawa just to warm the water and make soaking a more pleasurable experience for you.

Tibiao River. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

While you’re at it, you might as well take advantage of the cool, running water as you go water tubing or kayaking. Or you can simply have a peaceful and relaxing meal by the river, prepared by the locals.

Reason #8 – A Sight to Behold

The 200-year-old well-preserved Antique Rice Terraces is a cultural treasure of the province. To enjoy this panoramic sight, a viewing deck is available for you to appreciate the grandiosity of this man-made structure, alongside two waterfalls that serve as irrigation for the terrace crops and a refreshing vista of towering mountains and virgin forests.

Reason #9 – The Best Things in Life are Free

The San Jose Esplanade in the capital of Antique runs along the town’s newly developed coastal road. Here you can experience an unobstructed view of a sunrise or sunset, or simply take a relaxing walk to enjoy the sound of the waves hitting the shore, breathe in the fresh sea breeze, and take in the calming sight of the sea.

Reason #10 – Getting High

Aningalan is dubbed as the “Summer Capital of Antique.” It is a highland community that boasts of cool year-round temperatures with a picturesque mountain view. Come Strawberry Season, guests are encouraged to take part in strawberry picking. Aningalan has karst formations that may have been there for hundreds, maybe even thousands, of years. The fertile rainforest is where you will find Igbaclag Cave. Other activities at Aningalan include a bamboo raft ride at Danao Lake, horseback riding, and a visit to the flower garden where you can find at least two species of the Rafflesia flower (also known as the corpse flower due to the unpleasant scent it gives off). 

Antique Cuisine at its Best

Antique offers a variety of mouthwatering dishes for you to sample. The Porbida is made with chicken cutlets boiled in coconut milk, a souring agent called alupidan (or garlic vine), annatto powder and chili peppers.

For fish, shellfish and other seafood, they have various meal preparations that will keep you asking for more. 

Ginat-an nga Dagmay is a mix of dagmay leaves, stalk and tubers, kadyos (pigeon peas) and bagongon (river snails) boiled in coconut milk. 

Linapwahan is a sweetish broth with a concoction of vegetables (malunggay, green papaya, saluyot, okra, alugbati, squash, string beans, ampalaya, eggplant and kulitis) mixed with an assortment of fresh water shrimps, river crabs, dried shrimp fry, dried anchovies, and pinakas dried fish) all boiled with tomatoes, onions and ginamos (shrimp paste) or salt.

Binabak is made from pounded river shrimp and steamed with young coconut meat and ginger, all wrapped in banana leaves.

For the sweet tooth in you, there is the Butong-Butong, a hard and brittle stick or cane made from muscovado. This is similar to the Tira-Tira.

Antique has so much more to offer. The next time you plan a trip, aim for Antique and have the adventure of a lifetime.