The sun slowly radiates the whole of Pandan Beach Resort as locals of the coastal municipality began to assemble on the shore. A heavy breakfast was served and signified the start of another exciting day in Antique. The owner of the resort informed us that we will be going to explore the stretch of the Bugang River. I was thrilled because another superb experience will be listed down on my journal.
Bugang River of Pandan, Antique has received several recognitions such as the Gawad Pangulo sa Kapaligiran as the cleanest in the entire country. The length of Bugang River starts at the western end of the Malumpati Health Spring all the way to the Pandan Bay section of the Sulu Sea.
TREK TO THE HEAD SPRING
A short drive from Pandan Beach Resort led us to the Malumpati Health Spring. The spring resort has a wide pool that encloses the flowing water coming from the head spring. Several picnic huts are located on both sides of the pool. The 30-minute trek to the head spring starts in the Pandan Water District. The water district, which was built by a joint venture of the Japan Asian Friendship Society and the LGU of Pandan, supplies 20 barangays of the municipality.
Going to the headspring, we trailed the riverbank with the tall timbers and bamboos on the side enhancing the picturesque view of the landscape. Thanks to these trees that shaded the path, the trekking experience was unchallenging. I did admire the unruffled atmosphere of the destination that I considered myself a detractor of nature’s total silence. After a while, we finally reached the head spring and were dazzled by the turquoise color of the water.
As per Ms Gigi, who also joined us on the trek, the headspring was once explored by some divers and measured a depth of 30 meters without reaching the bottom. We went back to Malumpati Health Spring on a different route passing by a marker recognizing the Kyoto Gyosei High School who did some reforestation project in the locale, and lastly traversing the river on a rickety bamboo bridge.
AN HOUR OF BAMBOO RAFTING
After a short break and snacks from a sari-sari store nearby, we continued the Bugang River exploration. We went on board a bamboo raft for the Bugang River tour and found ourselves enjoying the company of Kuya Pato of Bugang Community Based Eco-Tourism Organization (BCBTO), the group that facilitates the river tour.
One can appreciate the breathtaking flora and fauna on both sides of the stream. Kuya Pato also discussed the names of the different areas of the river while maneuvering the raft. The limpidity of the water on some parts will allow you to perceive the riverbed having colorful stones underneath the water. What really made the ride exciting were the turns the guides need to contrive. The bamboo raft ride ended under Guia Bridge in Manlonggong Point where we transferred to a canoe.
CANOEING TO PANDAN BAY
When everyone was settled on their respective boat, the organizers told us that we, together with the paddlers, will be racing to Pandan Bay to end the Bugang River tour. Every member of the group became furious and joined forces with their assigned boatman to plan the strategy in winning the race. It was such a thrilling experience competing with each other and trying our very best to land first place on the race.
I told my boatman not to get serious with the race for me to enjoy the river cruise. A lot of nipa palms trees were lined up by the riverbanks. As the activity happened past noon, the sun didn’t spare us its scorching heat. We just landed fifth place in the race; nevertheless, I had a great time admiring the view.
The discovery of Bugang River ended at Le Palme Beach Resort with a refreshing buko (coconut) juice and rice cakes. It was my first time to try exploring a river given that we wandered through its almost 6-kilometer span. I commend the people who organized the different eco-adventure activities available in the area to satisfy travelers and excursionists visiting Pandan, Antique.
HOW TO GET THERE
Pandan, Antique can be reached by plane via Caticlan (Boracay) and Kalibo Airports of Aklan or Iloilo International Airport.
Caticlan: At the Caticlan terminal, buses and vans plying the Iloilo via San Jose, Antique route can take you directly to Pandan, Antique.
Iloilo: From Iloilo airport, you can take a van to Molo terminal for P50-P70. Buses and vans plying the Iloilo-Caticlan or Iloilo-Libertad route can take you directly to Pandan, Antique for around 3 hours travel.
* Canoeing Photos were taken by Sir Ruperto Quitag of the UP Visayas Bird Watchers.
* This Bugang River tour was part of the Antique Heritage Tour initiated by the Katahum Tours with the cooperation of the Department of Tourism Region VI and the Antique Provincial Tourism Office. Special thanks to the Ms Gigi of Pandan Beach Resort, Bugang Community Based Eco-Tourism Organization (BCBTO),