KALIBO, with it's distinctly cool(er) weather and laid-back culture, is an awesome destination in itself and not just a jump-off point to Boracay.
For many people, the idea of exploring this town's off-the-beaten-track attractions—which include white sand beaches, waterfalls and mangrove parks—might be more interesting than squeezing into crowded beaches and pricey hotels along with hordes of other tourists.
Here are SIX awesome reasons why more people should visit and stay in Kalibo:
1) The Ati-Atihan. Kalibo's most famous attraction brings thousands of local and foreign tourists to the town every third week of January. One of the country’s grandest and oldest festivals, the Ati-atihan feature costumed soot-faced performers taking to the streets to dance to drumbeats in honor of the Santo Niño, Infant Jesus. Ati-Atihan means "To be like Aetas", who were the primary settlers in the islands.
The Festival consists of tribal dance, music and the wearing of costumes and weapons, as participants parade along the streets of Kalibo. Many blacken their faces in honor of the Aetas. Bands of drummers keep the pace of the parade. The drumming is so loud, it seems to vibrate right through you. Another amazing thing about the parade is that you could walk freely among the participants and pose for pictures with them.
2) Bakhawan Eco-Park. Kalibo is also a haven of eco-tourism. A must-visit in Kalibo is the idyllic Bakhawan Eco-Park in New Buswang. The 170-hectare mangrove reforestation area was built in the 1990s to address the frequent flooding in the town and aims to protect and maintain the rich ecosystem of Kalibo. Take a relaxing walk around the eco-park, crossing man-made wooden bridges to reach the picture-perfect scenery of a tranquil river with a lush mangrove forest as backdrop.
The serenity that this place brings is more than enough to stay in this town. The Bakhawan Eco-Park can be reached in 15 minutes by tricycle or private vehicle from the town proper. Entrance to the Eco-Park costs P100 per adult.
3) Jawili Falls and Beach. The crystal-clear waters of Jawili Falls in Tangalan town never fail to entice passersby to take a quick dip, even those who come there with no plans to swim. Foreign and local tourists who take side tours around Kalibo often drop by here to scale the seven towering cascades. There are now small amenities such as shower rooms, cottages and a small restaurant in the area. Visitors do not need to hike to get there as the first basin is accessible from the main road. The entrance fee is only P10.
4) Piña Cloth Weaving. Aklanons are also known to have pioneered the 8th century tradition of pineapple fiber weaving. Piña silk has been a popular choice of fabric for the Philippine elite since the Spanish era. The fabric is usually used for making formal clothes such as the barong Tagalog and the terno; home accessories, and personal items like handkerchiefs. The piña-weaving industry is an important source of livelihood for many Aklanons. If you want to check out some of the weaving, visit the La Herminia Arts and Crafts and the Dela Cruz House of Piña.
5) Pottery and Paper Making. Not far from Kalibo is the small town of Lezo. Lezo is famous for two things, Ampow, which is a local version of Rice Crispy Squares, and the Lezo Pottery. You can see rows upon rows of beautiful pottery and watch it being made. Buying it directly from the pottery is ridiculously cheap.
6) The Aklanon Cuisine. For visitors who love food, try to indulge in Aklan's special native dishes like the Inubarang Manok (chicken) and the Chicken Binakol. You may find these dishes in local restaurants. But if you are staying in a friend or relative's house, they are much willing to prepare the dish for you and see how everything is uniquely done.
Inubarang Manok is a native chicken cooked mainly with coconut milk and grated banana stalk, locally called ubad. Chicken Binakol is cooked with coconut juice but this one is uniquely cooked inside a bamboo tube.