After the fiasco on Guimaras we returned to Iloilo (e low e low) then drove all along the coastline, circumnavigating the island in a clockwise manner. It certainly was a fun, and educational trip.
IloIlo is the cleanest, nicest and most "American looking" city we have found in the Philippines, to date. We passed through it twice. We intended to spend a few days there on the return leg but our trip was cut short. Look for a section in our places gallery dedicated to Iloilo, coming soon.
After leaving Iloilo we quickly noticed an extreme shortage of Joes. Finally, we had left the tourist traps behind. Far behind. And now for the real deal!
The first town of any size was San Jose. The pic is from the central square.
San Jose is the largest town in an area called Antique (ann tea kee). Containing mountains and sea shore, this is a place where we could easily have passed a week, or maybe more. The town was lively. We saw not a single Joe during our day there. The people were smiling, and interested in talking with us.
Not far off the northwest corner of Panay lies the fabled Borocay Island. Be aware they "they" do not allow you to bring your car onto "their" island. I don't like being told what I can and can not do - especially when I am paying the bills. So Borocay lost two visitors - no big deal.
There are plenty of sites on the WWW that are primed and ready to gush about any tourist trap, anywhere, and anytime. Bring cubic dollars, and have at it. More power to you :)
The next major town was Kalibo. One word: NASTY.
The image above is from Roxas (row haas) City, in the northeastern corner of the island. It captures the spirit of Panay - a place on it's way up, while preserving what came before.
Roxas city was our favorite smaller place on Panay. Driving in, it seemed nothing had changed from Kalibo but as we got closer, the place became quite nice.
There is a lot of construction going on - four lane streets that go nowhere (right now) reveal big plans, and the beginnings of their implementation. Again, we saw not even one Joe during our two day stay.
Roxas has a long exposure to the sea. Along the coastline there are many vacant lots and dilapidated structures. If you want a home with the ocean right in your back yard it would seem that Roxas is where you might find it, for a very reasonable price. One day relatively soon that entire area will be covered by fancy hotels and resorts.
All along the road you will see the most interesting stuff! A tiny seaside place called Banate is obviously proud of it's seafaring history.
In summation, Panay island is a must see and a must explore, as you search for your place in the Philippines. Although it may be said that places here are all alike, in a basic way, Panay island has so very few Joes that you have a good chance of being judged by the locals for who and what you are, as opposed to being stereotyped, as just another Joe.