There’s more to the western part of Panay than Boracay. In fact, there are many interesting places in the provinces of Aklan, Antique and western Iloilo that just amazes without driving all the way to Caticlan. Ruins, churches, food and rowdy festivals are there waiting. Pagatpat, bakhaw… we are familiar what these are. These words are Visayan for mangrove, trees that are found in coastal areas that used to cover a large portion of the country’s extensive coastlines but, due to encroachment, development, conversion to fishpens and charcoal making, has decimated our mangrove forests greatly.
In Kalibo, spearheaded by the NGO, Kalibo Save the Mangroves (Kasama), has transformed an idle seaside into a multiawarded (local and international) community based forest management project that the UN’s FAO considered as exemplary, in the whole Asia and the Pacific.
It’s amazing how, prior to 1990, the area where the Kalibo Bakhawan Eco Park is in was once idle mud flats. Due to the community’s efforts, the initial 50 hectares of reforested mangrove area is now a 200 hectare lush greenery that has become the pride of Kalibo and its people.
But what makes it all the more amazing is how KASAMA has transformed this project, which is not only as a world showcase but an eco-tourism park where people and visitors from all walks of life both local and foreign has visited and appreciated.
Here, you will not only learn about the importance of saving the environment but also about sustainability, ecology and conservation.
The eco park has enabled the people in the area to have livelihood with the abundant fish, alimango (mud crabs), shells as well as selling seedlings to various areas in the country where depleted mangrove areas are being reforested.
Kasama has tirelessly kept and skillfully managed the eco park and, I would really want that people and visitors to Kalibo as well as Boracay to really make the effort to visit the place and support the people who run the place. The caretakers and people of Bakhawan Eco Park also derive their living (monthly compensation of just P3,000 or $70) from the entrance fees (P20 or just $0.50) as well as tamilok (wood worm) demos at P200 ($4.5). Donations are very much welcome.
Visiting Kalibo’s Bakhawan Eco Park was one of the best places that I’ve visited during this trip. Walking along its elevated bamboo walkway amidst lush mangroves and to the sound of birds and the distant waves of the sea was just calming. For one who is Manila based, it was a very welcome respite from the concrete environment and pollution.
And it’s also the best place to experience eating tamilok or wood worm.
Bakhawan Eco Park
Barangay New Buswang
Ang Langyaw’s Panay Island trip courtesy of Airphilexpress, the fastest growing budget airline in the Philippines that made this trip possible!