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KALIBO: Planning Your Kalibo Escape with the Family

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We want our boys to be grounded with the right Filipino values and culture. We want them to experience what a real Filipino fiesta is all about with us, and tell stories about the Ati-Atihan in Kalibo.

We know that someday they will outgrow us and experience the fiestas with their own set of friends. 

However, it was very difficult to research on Kalibo's Ati-Atihan because the internet searches are dominated by the hotel-booking companies, and the festival itself is overshadowed by the marketing-savvy Sinulog Festival in Cebu. 

Also, we did not know anyone from Kalibo and the official website does not help either in explaining what to expect from the Ati-Atihan.

That's why I am very passionate about completing this Kalibo Ati-Atihan blog series to share with other families on how to plan their own Ati-Atihan experience even if you don't know anyone in Kalibo. This also serves as my own notes of learning and what to do differently next time we attend a fiesta.

Here are the Final Tips on Planning Your Kalibo Escape with the Family:

THE BEST OF KALIBO SERIES:

TOP 3 THINGS TO DO IN KALIBO:

#1: ATI-ATIHAN FESTIVAL

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Kalibo's Ati-Atihan is the mother of all the big Sto. Niño festivals of Sinulog in Cebu and Dinagyang in Iloilo.  It's the biggest fiesta that is "non-commercialized" and stays true to its Filipino Fiesta vibe. It's a "participative fiesta" where you dance with the performers vs. a "spectator fiesta" where you just watch in the sidelines. They say you have not experienced a Filipino fiesta unless you've been to Ati-Atihan.

Ati-Atihan means "to become like Aetas" or in modern terms an "Ati Cosplay". It was originally a pagan animist festival that the Spaniards adapted in honor of the Sto. Niño celebrated every third sunday of January.

It started when 10 Bornean Datus escaped from the island of Borneo and migrated to the Island of Panay in the 13th century (c.1200 A.D.). They bought the Panay Island plains from theAti's who were the original settlers in Maharlika (former name of the Philippines before the Spaniards) with gifts of golden salakot, brass basins,  bales of cloth and a very long necklace for the Ati chieftain.

The Aetas celebrated the occasion with eating, dancing, and merry making that became the inspiration of what we now call as the Filipino Fiesta.

Finally, I was able to bring the three boys to a cultural immersion and had fun in celebrating the mother of all fiestas -- The Ati-Atihan in Kalibo.

Here's our Ati-Atihan experience: What to Expect in the Sto. Niño ATI-ATIHAN Festival in Kalibo?

 

#2: BAKHAWAN MANGROVE FOREST

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Kalibo's Bakhawan Eco-Park is a 220- hectare Mangrove forest which started in 1990 with just 50 hectares of reclaimed land created by the Kalibo Save the Mangrove Association (KASAMA for short)and with 200 members to date. 

I was skeptical at first to go to this Mangrove forest as I thought it was one of those tourist-trap sidetrips. But after walking through the 1.1km. eco-trail and back, we concluded that this is one of the best eco-walks we've ever seen even better than the Mangrove forest in Sabang, Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

It's a must-visit if you have time to explore Kalibo and don't miss to try the mangrove woodworm delicacy called "Tamilok" :)

Here's our KALIBO: BAKHAWAN Eco-Park's 1.1 km Mangrove Eco-Trail experience!

 

#3SAMPAGUITA GARDENS
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SAMPAGUITA GARDENS is a 2.6- hectare boutique resort located in Aklan of Sam Butcher, the artist and creator of the Precious Moments doll with its signature teardrop loving eyes.

The center of the gardens is Jojo's Christmas Cottage which is a Victorian cottage that offers Christmas Everyday Experience. It has a Precious Moments store in the ground floor and the JCC Museum of Christmas in the upper floors showcasing Precious Moments collectibles.

It is 15 minutes away from the Kalibo Airport and most families that travel to Boracay would make it a point to stay one more night in this Resort before flying out of Kalibo.

Some of the areas of the Resort are a bit dilapidated, but still functional. It is best to go as a side-trip during the Ati-Atihan festival or during the cold BER season in time for Christmas.

Check out what's inside Sampaguita Gardens: KALIBO: The Secrets of SAMPAGUITA GARDEN

 

BEST PLACES TO EAT IN KALIBO:

#1: SAYLO CUISINE

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SAYLO is a Visayan term which means "to welcome" or "to invite to come in".

It is also a term which means "to transfer" which has a double meaning -- it's a good transfer stopover when you are flying via Kalibo International Airport, or if you are tired of Latte -  you transfer to Saylo.

We love the hip ambiance, offering of authentic Aklanon food with a good presentation and the yummy pasta. The only thing that turned us off  was the "provincial" service from the staff - lax, not trained well, and inattentive. 

Still, SAYLO gets our vote as the Best Restaurant in Kalibo!

Check out our Saylo Experience: KALIBO: SAYLO Cuisine - The Best in Kalibo?

 

#2: LATTE COFFEE CAFE

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LATTE is the best place for breakfast in Kalibo. It opens as early as 7am and offers your breakfast favorites, comfort food and yummy cakes. 

It's conveniently located in the road that leads to the airport and beside the best hotel in Kalibo. 

It gets mixed reviews because of inconsistencies, but we love the selection of comfort food.

We kicked off Aidan's 8th birthday celebration with a yummy breakfast here:
KALIBO: LATTE Coffee Cafe @ Marzon's Hotel

 

#3: RAMBOY'S

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Ramboy's is our Visayan liempo of choice. It's better than the liempo we have in Manila. The liempo cuts are bigger and meatier; and the skin, crunchier.

Check out: KALIBO: Where are the Best Places to Eat in Kalibo?

 

ENJOYING THE FIESTA WITH KIDS

Ati-Atihan is one of the fiestas that is enjoyable with the kids.

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The kids need to have their own fiesta tattoos for P10/design.

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Aidan is in his "dragon" phase, and he wants tattoos of Dragons.

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You can also buy fiesta souvenirs. Our favorite is the P15 customized names manually designed using a wire.

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There are fiesta disposable toys for P50 each.

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You can buy Ati-Atihan head gears and masks for P50-P150 depending on the size, design, and time of the festival.

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The P10 soft ice cream is also a hit with the kids.

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There's a lot of walking so rubber shoes are preferred instead of slippers.

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I realized we had to plan a better "Fiesta Gear" outfit for the kids next time.

 

WHERE TO STAY:

MARZON HOTEL

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The BEST modern hotel place to stay is Marzon's Hotel. This is preferred for kids because it is located outside the town proper, near the airport and has a swimming pool for the kids.

But you have to book months in advance (at least 6 months), the rates triple during Ati-Atihan and they have a minimum booking of three nights. 

MARZON HOTEL KALIBO
Sta. Monica, Andagao, Kalibo Aklan (beside Latte Coffee Cafe)
Telephone Number: +63 36 268-2188
Emailmarzonhotel_kalibo@yahoo.com
Websitewww.MarzonHotelKalibo.com
Room Rates (as of January 2013) with 48 rooms capacity:

  • Standard Room (2 Single Beds): P1,680/night, Ati-Atihan Rate: P4,200/night (2 nights min.)
  • Standard Room (1 Queen Bed): P1,792/night, Ati-Atihan Rate: P4,500/night (2 nights min.).
  • Standard Room (3 Single Beds): P2,352/night
  • Deluxe (1 Queen Bed & 1 Single Bed):P2,576/night, Ati-Atihan Rate: P5,800/night (2 nights)
  • Family Room (4 Single Beds): P3,136/night, Ati-Atihan Rate: P7,600/night (2 nights min.)
  • Suite Room (2 Queen Beds): P3,920/night, Ati-Atihan Rate: P8,500/night (2 nights min.)
  • Extra Mattress per person: P560 

 

SUBURBIA GARDEN HOTEL

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SUBURBIA GARDEN HOTEL is a boutique bed & breakfast hotel that gets  high ratings from customer reviews in Tripadvisor.

It is also located outside the main Kalibo town, about 15 minutes by tricycle in Brgy. Tigayon in Kalibo, Aklan. It is located at the main highway going to Roxas City.

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It gets good reviews because of the personalized service of Mike who makes sure you have secured transfers (P150) to/from the hotel to the airport or bus terminal.

He gave me initial tips on how best to experience and appreciate the Ati-Atihan but some of his tips are outdated because he himself has not been to the Ati-Atihan for years now. 

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We paid about P9,500 for this room with a double and single bed for 3 days 3 nights which is the minimum package during the Ati-Atihan festival.

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The restroom is OK with a hot & cold shower and they seem to use the deep well for their water supply.

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One of the best features of this Garden hotel is the common main dining hall where you can buy food for takeout and eat here in the spacious and breezy area.

They provide filtered water, coffee and tea all day.

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They also serve breakfast and offer food but it's best to not to expect so much.

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To get to the town from Suburbia, we would often ride a tricycle and pay about P40 for the special private ride or P9/person.

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SUBURBIA GARDEN HOTEL
65 Osmeña Avenue Tigayon, Kalibo, Aklan, 5600 Tigayon, Aklan
Mobile: +63 927 665-2796 (Mike)
Telephone: +63 36 268-1621, +63 36 500-2031
Email: suburbia_gh@yahoo.com
Facebook: Suburbia Garden Hotel 

 

HOW TO GET TO KALIBO:

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To plan your trip, you have to first book your flight to Kalibo or Caticlan which is two hours away. Another option is to fly via Roxas City if you want to eat yummy and fresh seafood :)

(Tip: We usually take advantage of zero airfare promotions from Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines or Air Asia if we are planning to bring the entire family. Good thing, the Ati-Atihan celebration falls on the third Sunday of January.)

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If you fly via Caticlan, you can ride a tricycle (P50) transfer to the Caticlan Jetty Port.

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You can get a ride in van terminals just outside the Caticlan Jetty Port for P100/seat. We occupied the front seats with the boys and paid P300.

(TIP: Most people would go to Boracay before/after the Ati-Atihan.)

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You get around the town of Kalibo via the tricycle and the boys had a memorable time commuting.

~ The End ~

This post concludes the 7-part The BEST of KALIBO Blog Series. Hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy blogging about our family's experience via Photo Essays. 

Please let me know if you have more tips on how best to enjoy the  Ati-Atihan in Kalibo :)

THE BEST OF KALIBO SERIES:

Related Blog Post: 
BORACAY's White Christmas: 10 Never-Boring Experiences to Enjoy with your Kids!

Live an Awesome Life,

anton  signature 
Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com
Follow @antondiaz and Like our Official Facebook Page: Our Awesome Planet :) 
If you have tips on awesome food and travel destinations, please email me at anton@diaz.ph.

Full Disclosure: We paid for our family trip to Kalibo. I wrote this blog post myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I have no business relationship with any company mentioned in this post or any organization promoting it. As a policy, I don't receive compensation from food and travel places we feature in the blog. 

P.S. Indeed,  Festivals are More FUN in the Philippines when experienced with the kids :)

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awesome! we were there on the 17th, just before the Grand Parade over the weekend. i wish we could have stayed longer but we had prior engagements. we did visit the doll house though. :)

I have never been to Kalibo and has always been my dream to experience. Great post!

It's great that you got to visit Kalibo during January! The usual tourist though would pair the trip to the town with a Boracay side trip either before or after Ati-Atihan. I read your other post, and it's too bad you didn't get to experience the last day of the festival. You need to visit again!! :D

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