“Bring some blessed oil, garlic or whatever you can use to protect you from ‘aswang’ (vampires).” Do not sleep in someone’s house even it’s for free.” “Do not eat what people offer from you.”
Those are some of the reminders or better say warnings before I traveled to Capiz which I failed to do so. Why should I follow those ‘warnings’ anyway? The time I visited the Province of Capiz was two weeks after the strongest typhoon in the country called Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) wrecked down the whole province.
Despite the shattered houses, tumbled trees, unending patience for food relief and lost loved ones, there was still the ‘glow of hope.’ No one warned me how beautiful the smiles of Capizeños (people living in Capiz) are. No one reminded me that they offer the warmest accommodation. No one told me that they have the every scrumptious seafood you may think. THAT IS THE REAL CAPIZ!
Capiz, along with Iloilo, Antique, and Aklan are part the Panay Island in Visayas, Philippines. Roxas City, among the 24 municipalities, serves as the capital of Capiz, where the airport is located. Flights from Manila are still limited from two to three every day. Better buy your ticket now and experience the things you will read on this article, as you visit a first-class province, Capiz.
Here’s the list for Awesome Things You Should Do in Capiz
1. Do an Ultimate Seafood Trip
Roxas City is dubbed as the ‘Seafood Capital of the Philippines.’ As you arrived in the city’s humble airport, tricycles are in line to bring you in a popular place called ‘Baybay.’ Taxis are also waiting for passengers but they are very limited due to high competition with the tricycle. Literally translated as seaside, Baybay gives you several choices of restaurants, offering sea foods. Each food stall presents fresh marine stuff where you can pick them and ask to cook the dish you prefer. Grilled is the top method of cooking, but soup like Shrimp Sinigang is also in the options!
Tip: All over Capiz, seafoods are available, especially the oysters, which are commonly sold just like street food. For about 20 PhP (0.50USD), you can have a serving (around 10 pieces, depending on the size) of oysters. Do not miss as well the Capiz shell that is known to its notable meat inside the thin white shell.
2. Trek in Sweetseerland (Switzerland)
Yes, you read it right, as in the country in Europe, but locals spell and pronounce it as Sweet-seer-land.
Inspired by the Alps in Switzerland, Barangay (like a Village but bigger) Dulangan in Pilar town of Capiz associated one of its areas as Switzerland due to its inviting mountainous location. Dulangan is the biggest barangay in Pilar, inhabiting more than 5,000 residents. The Barangay Hall can easily be traced along the road. By taking a bus from the Roxas Terminal, you can directly ask the Barangay head for the permission to hike in the Switzerland. This is basically a residential place where houses are kilometers apart from each other. Before the super typhoon landed, fruits such as rambutan and lanzones are abundantly growing in the area and were the main source of the whole town.
Tip: You can also go in Dulangan from Iloilo City that can take you for about 3 hours of Bus Ride. It is better to contact the local officials first before you arrive so they can look for someone who can guide you.
3. Reach the Agtalin Shrine in 200 steps with a side trip to Puting Bato (White Stone/Cave)
Can’t get enough of hiking? Then add some hundreds of steps more to your day by climbing a hill where the Agtalin Shrine is located. Erecting at 85 feet and considered as the tallest Marian Statue in Asia, it remained undamaged despite the land fall of Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. It was in 1991 when volunteer workers began to form the statue, tackling uneasy site; and successfully blessed by Bishop Onesimo Geordoncillo of Capiz after two years.
The shrine is situated in the same barangay as the Switzerland. Masses are held only every first Saturday of the month and many devotees grace with the Mary’s blessed effigy for healing purposes.
Tip: This can be a best activity to end the day in the town. Go up around 5 in the afternoon when the sun is not on its brightest and witness the sunset in the Shrine. Whether you go there for religious reason or not, it will not matter as you will surely enjoy the relaxing view from the top and realize how rich the province is in natural wonders.
Just after going down from the shrine, head to Putting Bato. Visible from the highway passing the barangays of Pilar town, this is also perfect for a stop during a long land trip and get some creative shots of this huge cave. No worries for a tourist-competition in getting the best shot of Puting Bato/Cave as you can get a wide-range of angle due to its size. Additionally, there is still no ‘touristic’ offer on how to get in the cave as it is said to be privately owned. This naturally-crafted cave offers countless of rock formations inside.
4. Divulge the Hidden Paradise in Dayhagan
Before you click that ‘book’ button for your flight going to Aklan, the province where Boracay belongs, why not try the less-tourists and definitely a cheaper destination in its neighbouring province, Capiz?
No crowd to face to; only residents to deal with.
No expensive food to buy; only cheap and delectable local food to eat.
No white sand to step in; only whiter.
No blue water to swim to; only bluer sea to view and play with.
Those are what the Dayhagan Beach can offer.
Tagged as the Hidden Paradise by the locals, Dayhagan Beach welcomes people for free. NO ENTRANCE FEE!
Cottages are not available in the area so it’s a good way to be more friendly with the sand and let your back rest while watching the bluer sky. Having an overnight can be negotiated with the community leaders and residents; whether staying in a house or just bring some tents. No worries for the mosquitoes at night, there is none. Wind in the area is also perfect as a replacement for an electric fan or an air conditioner. When it comes to food, bringing your own is highly recommendable though people there also catch seafood and they sell them. It is not every day that they can get something to eat from the sea so better pack some fruits and fish to grill. Above all, never leave any waste on this virgin beach.
Tip: If coming from Manila, just book a flight to Roxas City or Iloilo City. Either from these cities, you can ride a bus or van which stops in the Balasan terminal. From the terminal, just take a tricycle and say, Barangay Dayhagan’s Hall. Since entering on that village to experience the beach is free, be sure to contact the Barangay Captain beforehand as permission for a visit.
5. Boat ride along the Mangrove areas
To better appreciate the 7,107 islands (still changing, depends if it’s low or high tide) of the Philippines, try a boat trip while viewing the Mangroves habitat. This can also be an alternative to an Island hopping where wide ocean surrounds you. Mangroves grow along rivers and shores in tropical areas and mostly live on muddy soil which make them valuable in bearing ocean-related calamities like storms and hurricanes.
Tip: There is no proper company or group that organizes a boat trip in Island communities in Capiz. However, boats are used for the people in the island to go in the center market to purchase their needs. One of the main spots is in Marita in President Roxas (residentially known as Lutod-lutod) where boats are park. You can ask some people there to bring you in some island barangays, which can take about an hour each. This would then be a special trip for 500PHP (10USD) round trip. Remember, be friendly! Even if you do not speak the local dialect, be confident enough. Be adventurous but always bring the word ‘safety’!
6. Enjoy the unlimited Balut and contribute in community’s livelihood
Barely 95% of Capiz are affected by the super typhoon, which caused vast damage to agriculture, infrastructure and livelihood. Damage to infrastructure was pegged at PhP 4.272 billion, agriculture at PhP3.83 billion, and fisheries at PhP759 million. Leaving these denting digits, recovery is a priority after a disaster. How will the typhoon survivors recoup after losing almost everything? Source of income is the key! And good news, by travelling, you can actually contribute on this.
In Barangay Manhoy, Dao, Capiz, Balut (fertilized duck egg) production was one of the main ventures. Almost every household has ducks, providing reasonable number of eggs for Balut. Selling at 15PHP for the ready-to-eat balut and 10PHP for the eggs, better grab some dozens and enjoy them with your fellow travellers at night (with beer)!
Tip: Order bulk number of chicken egg and serve them as Balut back to your home. I know this can be bought everywhere in the Philippines but this kind of Balut is specially originated from one of the best sources.
7. Treasure the locals’ talents
Travelers or tourists or whatever you may call to yourself, we are all strangers once we step in to a new place. Aside from food, the locals’ talents are the best way to discern a place. This is, of course, an appreciation to the people you are visiting. Capiz might not be as popular as Marikina for their shoes, it has veiled products which are surely done with full passion. A living example is a widow in Barangay Binaobawan, Pilar, Capiz, who has been making Banig (bed mat) since she lived alone. At 80, Magdalena Crispolon, stitches materials (dried leaves) manually by hands and will be done by two weeks. The eight-decade old Manugbanig (a person making banig or mat) is not crafting this product in an order basis but in pure luck and hope that somebody will order from her. You might be interested to get one? This is a good souvenir though.
Tip: This is just a sample on how your stay in Capiz can be more unique. There are numerous products made by distinctive talents in every community of the Province; it is for you to discover one. Instead of targeting souvenir shops in malls, just grab real locally-produced items. I mean, first hand-products will be better and less costly.
Keeping the Awesome Things in Capiz after a Disaster
The Capiz Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDDRMC) recorded at least 156,074 families, or 703,566 individuals affected after strong wind, destroying 83,718 houses and damaging76,835 others. Leave those numbers in history and just make new record of ceaseless things to do in Capiz. I already enumerated seven.
About the Writer:
Jessica Ayun is a Freelance Writer who writes if 5-10 cups of coffee a day will be served. She used to work as a TV Researcher but her feet are always curious to step into new places so she decided to work in the communities of Visayas and Mindanao as a Documenter for almost two years, through a non-government organization (NGO). She tries to see the “real happiness” in every person she meets and every place she goes to. She will always choose mountains than beaches.