Viaje Sur: Secret Wonders of Nabas, Aklan

No one can appreciate the beauty that this world has to offer until one has traveled. Oftentimes, the most beautiful of places on Earth are the ones on the road less traveled, pristine and unspoiled. While people think of Boracay Island or Kalibo’s Ati-atihan Festival when Aklan is mentioned, there is a hidden gem just tucked away in northern Aklan that is just a mere 15-minute ride from Caticlan, the gateway of Boracay Island. Frequently passed by buses but neglected by the ordinary tourist eyes is the town of Nabas in the Province of Aklan.

One just has to look outside the tourist bus windows just to see how beautiful this quaint little town is. This town of 28,000+ people features natural wonders both on the mountains with its natural cold springs and the sea which boast of crystal clear waters from white sand to pebbly shores. In my visit to Nabas, Aklan, it was timely that my Dad was there to take care of our businesses in that town and was able to help me get around. Through his interactions with the important people of the town, he was able to tell me some interesting facts about this curious laid back town.

A bit of history shows that it was a Magallanes, a Spanish gobernadorcillo, who was one of the catalysts into creating the town of Nabas from the town of Ibajay where it was once part of. Until today, the Magallanes Family and their descendants are the ruling political clan of Nabas, Aklan which made me very much at home. I was able to meet my distant relatives on the first time who was happy enough to meet a relative from Negros Occidental. They even invited me to attend the biennial family reunion, a tradition they started fourteen years ago in 1997.

This unbroken tradition shuffles the venue by clan and the lot happen to fall on the clan in Nabas, Aklan this year. Sadly, I was not able to go because of important prior arrangements in Bacólod City but I was able to be accommodated at the family guesthouse which was the venue of the family reunion. The guesthouse itself and its expansive lawn “mowed” regularly by goats as organic grass cutters  is replete with history since it was where the town’s cemetery was before it was relocated in its present location. Nevertheless, the curious history did not scare or spoil my time at such beautiful place.

Early mornings are beautiful in Nabas, especially along the beach. I was able to get up early and walk from the small resort house where I was staying to the beachfront at the break of dawn. The view of golden sunrise shining on the beautiful waves of the blue sea is a wonderful sight to behold. While the pebble shoreline stopped me from having my jog, the sound of waters carefully pounding on the pebble shores is a relaxing sight to behold and the fresh air reinvigorated my body. How often do we take for granted such wonders of God’s creation? I guess we can appreciate it here where everything is serene and calm.

I removed my sandals and felt the therapeutic feel of pebbles under my feet while watching the sun-lit waves crash on the seashore. Nabas has two kinds of beaches with the ones heading to Caticlan having white sand beaches while the ones heading to Kalibo having pebbled shores, like this one. This pebble shoreline is just so lovely for me, littered with driftwood of curious sizes, coconuts drifting from distant islands to this shore and curious varieties of rocks that will surely appeal for those that keep aquariums. Being a rock collector, this Nabas shoreline is simply a rock collector’s haven.

What I found of curious abundance are silica quartz rocks, the types of crystalline rocks that are being processed for use as computer chips or fiber-optic cables. Nabas, Aklan has seen busy days exporting these quartz rocks to the computer chip factories. None of those fabled barges are landing by Nabas shores today but these rocks continue to litter the shores of the town, with townspeople barely taking notice. Apart from silica quartz, marble rocks also litter the shoreline and also of equal abundance. By the rocks, I even found jade which I kept to send as a gift for my Mom being her birthstone.

While picking the most beautiful crystalline rocks I have ever seen, I spotted some people pulling a line from the sea. Curious enough, I asked my Dad what they are doing. He said that this is the way people in Nabas fish. They set out the nets far at sea attached to ropes and bring the bounded end of the rope back to shore. For photo ops and a bit of exercise, I asked the locals if I can help them pull the net back to shore. With my Dad on the camera, I took the rope and started to pull with them. Pulling the nets back to shore did surely break some sweat. I am just doing this for the first time but they are doing this every single day.

After half an hour’s struggle to bring the nets to shore, we were able to catch a sight of nets slowly being dragged to shore. Just as I thought that it would be an easy way in, it took another round of pulling to have the nets on the shore. While we cityfolks have the convenience of buying fish or seafood in the comforts of the supermarket, these people have to do this daily so that they would have the daily sustenance of fish. As the net is slowly getting to shore, I got more excited with what the fisherfolks caught for the day. I’ve never seen fish caught from the sea still flipping and moving.

Unfortunately, after an hour’s worth of muscle stretching by pulling the ropes, they only caught a handful of fish and trapped what could be Spongebob and Patrick’s favorite, white jellyfishes. Asked the reason why and I found out that they set out the nets too late in the day. When the sun starts to light up the sea, the net becomes more obvious and the big fishes would try to avoid the nets as much as possible. Smiles abound even with a few catch as people just got their hands on the still moving fishes which would most probably be made to sabawan with some sweet potato tops and seeing a cityfolk actually join them in their daily routine.

After a filling lunch at a local diner in the Poblacion, I once again headed out to the beachfront to explore some more the wonders that I have yet to see. As I walked along the shore picking up more of those crystalline rocks and some curiously-shaped marbles, two kids joined me in my walk and talk about what they liked to do. They were helpful in picking up the best shaped rocks along the shoreline. Asked where I was heading, I pointed to them the rocky outcrop by the sea that I saw at a distance this morning. The kids told me that they were heading there too to look for some nice spiders they can catch for spider fights with friends.

Getting close to the rocky coast got me excited for this is a rare sight to behold, quite untouched and preserved in its natural pristine beauty. My only problem though is the thick carpet of seagrasses right by the shore which keeps on sticking to my sandals like leeches but it added to the pristine feel of the place. I first saw the place from a distance a decade ago when my family was traveling to Boracay in a van. As a kid, I was curious with how these rocky outcrops look like close-by. The wish took a decade to fulfill but I was able to come close and actually sit on one of the rocks.

Upon reaching the rocky outcrops, I now understand why no one has ever gone to that area. Lying on the bottom of a cliff and directly at the edge of deep blue sea, it is an adventure in itself but the bit of effort is worth it. Towering above you are thickly foliaged trees while on the coast beholds a wonderful sight of the clear blue sea. The big rocks lying on the shore are in fact marble which makes me realize why a lot of houses in Nabas have marbled floors. Marble is just so abundant in their area that they are able to afford putting it on their floor and walls, some even have it solely as building blocks!

While most of the rocks are too heavy to carry, I was able to find a beautiful specimen back home. Red in color with intricate designs in crystalline white lines, I took home this wonderful masterpiece of nature with a driftwood to accent the top as a souvenir of this trip. While the two kids are busy with finding their spiders, I took time to sit and just look at the wonderful view. A view as spectacular as this is hard to find nowadays. While the waves splashed on the rocks, I though of what has happened to me in 2011 and what I wanted to accomplish in 2012. The place was just right for a wonderful time of reflection.

Just as I was getting mesmerized by the scenery, I received a text message from Dad that I must work my way back since the father of the two kids who joined me will give us a treat of fresh coconut. Calling out on the young folks who actually climbed a tree just to find their perfect spiders, I told them in my broken Akeanon that their Dad is calling them back. Though they did not ask for it, I gave them some spare changes I have in my pocket to their very delight. We picked some more quartz crystals along the shore before I finally found my way enjoying fresh coconuts. I had fun in Nabas, Aklan and I wish to go back here but more so, I hope you would swing by yourself here before going to Boracay to experience a unique and unspoiled natural wonder.


More photos available for the curious eyes at the Photo Blog Entries I, II, III, IV and V.


About Mark Mayo - Magallanes

MARK MAYO - MAGALLANES – blogger by passion, cook by hobby, student by life, theater actor by fate, writer by work, and Christian by grace. Part Filipino, Chinese and Spanish by blood, he is proudly 100% Negrénse. His love for his home Island of Negros, heritage and lifestyle has led him to write much about it and full-time, all-time. View all posts by Mark Mayo - Magallanes

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