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Island dreaming in The Philippines

Friday, June 10, 2011
With her wonderful mix of Australian, Hawaiian and Filipino heritage, we asked Kate Ceberano to visit the Philippines, home of her paternal grandparents.

The Republic of the Philippines lies south of Taiwan, east of Vietnam and north-east of Indonesia.

Kate went to the little island of Panay, one of more than 7107 making up the Philippines archipelago, off the popular resort island of Boracay. If she decided to visit one island a day, she would be away for 19 years!

Panay has many rivers and is the setting of the famous book Maragtas, which chronicled the arrival of the Malaya race to the Philippine islands.

Agriculture is prolific — coconuts, muscovado, bananas, pineapples, mangoes, cashew nuts, corn, root crops and vegetables are grown, and Panay is considered the second largest rice-producing region in the Philippines. Livestock and poultry and cottage industries are also important. The island has grasslands, woodlands, wetlands and mountains.

Panay's long coastline has a wealth of marine life of fish, coral reefs and mangroves. Inland, 881 rivers, 27 lakes and 42 lagoons also provide wonderful fishing.

After visiting the fish market, Kate headed to the village of Tuno with D'Arcy Kelly from Tribal Adventures. It has just 500 inhabitants and is untouched in many ways. It's as it was a couple of centuries ago.

Having visitors was enough for villagers to party. Watched by interested villagers as children bathed at the well, the chief poured rum and the glass was passed around for everyone to have a sip. Filipinos are a very musical people, and it wasn't long before everyone, including Kate, was dancing.

The chief escorted Kate and D'Arcy to a favourite local spot — Bugtong Bato Falls. They are seven-tiered falls but just three are accessible. You need to be pretty daring, climbing a steep ladder to reach the second falls, and the third is reached by scaling a rock wall with just a rope to hold. Villagers are hopeful it will become a tourist attraction.

After a swim, they returned to the village to cook up the fish they'd bought at the markets. The tuna was cooked on banana leaves with chilli, rice and served with mango chutney. Good food is also enough to get Filipinos up dancing.

After that, Kate soaked in a bamboo heated kawa tub. Once used to boil up brown sugar called muscovado, it is a totally relaxing, different kind of spa. Leaves are added to the water and there's an optional massage after.


The island of Panay in the Philippines, a 45-minute flight from Manila.


Tribal Adventure Tours has three-day two-night Philippine Experience tours. They cost $531 per person and include sea and land transport from Boracay to Tuno, accommodation in a native woven bamboo cottage at Kayak Inn with hot bath, all activities including kayaking, hiking, village interaction, native spa treatments and all meals including alcohol. They operate on demand.

Contact Viva! Holidays for further information and reservations for all your travel to The Philippines.

Philippine Airlines has flights to Manila from:

  • Melbourne $1530
  • Sydney $1549

Conditions apply and connections to Panay are available.

Prices correct at June 11, 2011.

For further information

Philippine Airlines

Viva! Holidays
Ph: 13 14 15

Tribal Adventures
Ph: +63 36 288 3207
Fax: +63 36 288 3449

Shangri-La's Boracay Resort & Spa
Barangay Yapak
Boracay Island
Malay 5608
Ph: +63 36 288 4988
Fax: +63 36 288 5088

Philippine Department of Tourism
703/7 Thakral House
301 George Street
Sydney, NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9279 3380
Fax: (02) 9279 3381

Visa: A visa is not required for stays of up to 21 days but passports must have six months' validity.

Electricity: 220V at 60Hz taking plugs with two vertical flat pins or two round pins.

Time zone: GMT +8.

Currency: Peso.

International dialling code: +63.

It is recommended travellers to The Philippines see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there may be specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended. For further information, visit and

User comments
OMG I need to know where Kate got the black floral tunic top she was wearing in the Phillipines episode. Its gorgeous. If you could please please let me know even the brand that would be fantastic! Thanks so much Corinne

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