Serenity of a destination depends on its remoteness. Travel time is always considered by everyone and a great factor that affects their decision in visiting a certain place. The longer the travel time the greater the possibility of having a tranquil, isolated, and off-the-beaten destination. Malalison Island, just 15 minutes away from the coastal municipality of Culasi, Antique has these qualities.
Malalison Island (locally called as Mararison) can be accessed by fishing boats. We skipped the distance between the island and the main island of Panay on a small outrigger boat. Other member of the group tossed themselves on a larger fishing craft. The island together with the other islands of Batbatan and Maniguin, as per the legend, are believed to be the offsprings of Mount Kanlaon and Mount Madja-as, the highest peak in Panay Island.
Minutes before we docked, the unraveling beauty of the island was already perceptible: the sandbar that looks like a bird’s head, clean-pebbled beach and clear blue water. We were greeted by a group of elders who performed a traditional welcome ritual to bless the group for the entire stay on the island. While an old man was carrying out the Pang Luy-a to a companion, I surveyed the area: a dozen of fishing boats docked on the beach, jolly kids playing under the scorching heat of the sun and the simple life of the community. As per the tourism officer who accompanied us, Malalison is inhabited by around 130 households.
I planned to just stay under the shades of the trees, enjoy the picturesque view of the island while spending some time with a book. But the organizer informed us the different activities for us to explore the inner beauty of the island. I gave it a shot and it was a good decision to join the group.
HIKE AND TREK TO NABLAG ISLET
An islet is located at the rear side of the island and one option to get there is to hike the hill, not that high though. Ascend to the peak was a bit arduous without an established trail to trek on. The guide revealed at the end of the trek that we were one of the first groups to climb the hill.
We reached the peak after 15 minutes and I was complaining not because of the trek but because of the intense heat of the sun. When I saw the entire scene from the highest point, my lips shut and a smirk was a mere reaction. We were rewarded with an amazing view of the beach with Mount Madja-as in the background together with the paralleled blue skies and the sea.
The trek continued and gave us the opportunity to discover the unnoticed flora in Malalison. It was my first time to see a pitcher plant, which is a carnivorous plant having leaves as pitfall traps – a prey-trapping mechanism featuring a deep cavity filled with liquid. We descended the first peak and stopped in the school located in the valley. One of the buildings was severely damaged by typhoon Yolanda and repair was being done during our visit. The next part of the island gave us a view of vast grassland comparable to Mount Pulag photos I see online. We joined the whistling wind and finally reached the shoreline on the other side of the island with Nablag Islet on sight.
NABLAG ISLET AND CAVE
Nablag Islet is connected to Malalison by a short strip of rocks during low tide, but we were too tired to pay a visit. We just stayed with the locals who, at that moment, were making a boat. After a short rest, we headed to the cave which is full of vandalism and not worth a visit. Trust me.
Trekking back to the community, the disappointment we had from the cave was converted into an exciting rock climbing, or should I say ‘rock gripping’ where you need to search and clasp on rocks for you not to get wet by sea water (also some parts of the water are deep). Unfortunately, one of us didn’t survive the activity, Regine’s camera which surrendered itself to the water. The activity was ended when our boat came and tried to save us, from foolishness.
We went back to the community and munched our lunch before dipping in the clear and cold waters of Malalison. I sat on the sandbar enjoying the noise of the crashing waves and the crisp rays of the sun. I left my spot when they called us to prepare for leaving.
By the end of the day, my color was a bit darker which only means that summer has officially arrived. Leaving Malalison only proved that you don’t need to travel long hours just to have a serene, laid-back and paradise experience. Sometimes, you just need to see and appreciate what is near and around you.
Malalison Island Travel Guide
Rent for pump boat is Php 1,000 inclusive for back and forth and island hopping.
Environmental Fee is Php 20.
Camping can be utilized for overnight stay, no fee only donation for the locals. Homestay is at Php 80.
For trekking, tour guides are available.
* This Malalison Island experience 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 LGU of Culasi and Anna Sophie Hostel.