Bakhawan is our dialect for mangrove so this eco-park is all about mangroves. Though this has been a popular tourist site since the early 2000’s, I have never been here because it’s quite far from my hometown.
And so when I went home last month and my favorite cousin asked me where we should meet, I decided to forego meeting in her office or in our usual restaurant or coffee shop and told her I want to see Bakhawan.
We went here on August 24. My cousin is actually the tourism officer of Kalibo so she became my resident tour guide for free. Te he.
Entrance fee is at Php 50. Since I am an Akeanon, she paid just Php 30 for my entrance fee. Here’s a collage of all applicable fees and reminders at the park:
Note that tamilok demo should be pre-arranged.
According to my cousin, this project started in 1990. The non-profit organization Kalibo Save the Mangroves Association (KASAMA), the local government unit of Kalibo and the Department of Environment and National Resources (DENR) spearheaded the project of mangrove reforestation to address the community’s problems on flooding and to provide livelihood for the locals.
Originally, they started with only 50 hectares of reclaimed land, but now, it has become a 220-hectare mangrove forest.
The project was such a success that it has reaped local and international awards and is dubbed the country’s most successful mangrove reforestation project.
I’ve been to a couple of mangrove tours before, but I’ve never been to one as big or as beautifully developed as this one. It’s way better than my mangrove tour in Puerto Princesa, or Camiguin.
This is my favorite part of the park.
Too bad it had been raining the past days so the water was murky and the weather’s still dreary during my visit. We also agreed to meet here at 4 PM so it was not sunny.
Here are more sights and sites from our almost 30-minute walk.
These locals are harvesting either Tamilok, clams, or crabs. This is how this project benefits its members. They can get these for free and sell them to tourists or at the market.
The walk was tiring but the views made it worthwhile.
Originally, the floors were made of bamboo, but they changed it to wood to make it more resilient. It’s more beautiful to look at too.
There’s actually a part of the walkway that was still made of bamboo. This is on the last few meters leading to the park’s edge. It was already being replaced with wood, though, when we were there.
Though my cousin has been here countless of times, she and her family were so nice to accompany me to the edge of the park. Here, there is a viewdeck where one can see Aklan River.
Here’s a collage of more sights at the park’s edge.
Afterwards, we decided to rest in one of their cottages.
My cousin’s husband also decided to treat us to freshly grilled clams.
In our dialect, we call this tuway and it’s a popular ingredient for clam soup. This was actually my first time to eat it grilled. I liked it. It tasted like oysters and because it’s so fresh, it was delicious. And all for just Php 30 a kilo. So cheap, considering that according to my sister, she saw Korean guides in Boracay selling this at Php 400 a kilo. Wow! Talk about highway robbery.
After our pit stop, we decided to head home since dusk was starting to settle. Too bad there’s nowhere in the park where sunset can be seen, though the sky did have faint streaks of yellow.
Bakhawan Eco-Park is located in New Buswang, which is about 20 minutes from our province’s main municipality of Kalibo.
Getting here: From Kalibo, ride a tricycle going to Kalibo Public Market , which we locals refer to as “Tindahan.” Fare is Php 8. Ask to be directed to the tricycle stop of New Buswang-bound tricycles and tell the driver to drop you off at Bakhawan. Fare is again Php 8. You can also rent the whole tricycle for Php 40-50 per way.