It all stared with a hungry Spanish explorer landing on the shores of Pandan Antique. Meeting an Ati local for the first time, he asked if they have food. The Ati pointed to a basket full of Kamote (Sweet potatoes) and said “Dan” which for them meant “that”. In excitement, the Spaniard exclaimed “Pan” which means bread, mistaking the potatoes as bread. It was an amusing play of words between two different culture that gave birth to the name of this place in Antique. Whether this event really is the etymology of its name, one thing is for sure, Pandan is rich in natural attractions and culture.
Water basin of Panay
More rain falls over this side of Antique in a year. While I was there, there was occasional rain everyday. That may explain why a large part of its forest is intact. 40% of Pandan’s land area is composed of intact, low-level rainforest. This is home to the rare and endangered Writhed Billed Hornbill commonly known as Dulungan.
One of a Kind Library
The Dioso Library, is small and unpretentious that I never thought this would be one of the best library in the country, according to the National Library of the Philippines. Found at the centre of town, the library, founded and built by retired United Nations official, Leo Dioso and his wife Chiqui, is home to more than 20,000 volumes of books in different genre. Everyone is welcome to access this rich archive as well as use their internet stations. Regular activities like reading and puppet shows are held to entice young ones to read.
Impressed by those hand-woven handicraft bags, purses and hats in Boracay or department stores? Chances are those came from Pandan as there’s a large industry of Bariw leaves (a plant relative of pandan or screw pine) weaving. I watch as a few weavers make these popular souvenir items and were impressed by their speed and creativity.
Explosive Sunsets and Idle Beaches
The grey sand beach may not be striking but the laid-back vibe and dramatic sunset are conducive for chilling out. Want to just laze around? There are hammocks and lounge chairs by the beach.Want a really romantic dining experience? Check out the floating gazebo available for private dining while floating on the Sulu Sea.
The other regions of Northern Panay may have been eclipsed by the popularity of Boracay but destinations like Pandan, Antique are slowly stepping out of its shadows. Pandan provides a great complement to the activities available on Boracay, appealing to those who are looking for eco-adventure not too far from the island.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.