Tasty triggerfish and tourism flights: Life in Aklan

Where did you get that?!” I stupidly asked.

I’m standing inside the Hang Out Beach Resort in Aklan, Malay, Philippines, with my friend Bong Bong. I am looking at a fish he is holding before me. It has lips and teeth. Human-like lips and teeth.

The fish is so odd looking with human-like features and I’d never seen anything like it, so the stupid question simply popped out.

“There,” he smartly answers, and he nods to the way of the sea.

Tasty triggerfish

Turns out the latest score from the resort’s outrigger boat is a triggerfish.

Bong Bong says he was tough to reel in. His fish weighed more than three kilos.

Triggerfish are tricky to catch, but worth the effort. Its white meat is sweet when cooked – the internet says its similar to crab meat.

Bong Bong kindly offered it to me. I’d already eaten my late meal for the day, so I declined.

Besides, he and my friend Yolly (the resort owner) already have given us two large fish: one barbecued to perfection; one giant catch cleaned and cooked by Tedly.

And also, I am a former vegetarian and sometimes I have internal debates about quitting meat again. I don’t really like to eat anything with a face.

Clearly, you can see this creature has a face — with lips and teeth — and it doesn’t exactly make me hungry…

Tourism flights

Two airports near us are open, and I heard a plane! I can’t remember the last time I heard a plane that wasn’t a sweeper flight, supplies, or a military aircraft. It’s likely the sound and sight will become more common now that tourists are encouraged to come to Boracay Island in Aklan – with conditions.

The Caticlan airport is only a couple of miles from us, and the Kalibo airport is 90 minutes away. Both airports are in the province of Aklan, and both are running passenger flights — as I said, with conditions, which are listed below.

Getting into Aklan Province on Panay Island in the Philippines

Right now, it’s only domestic flights on three approved airlines:

  1. Philippine Airlines
  2. Cebu Pacific Air (read our review of Cebu Pacific Air)
  3. Asia Air

Passengers must have:

  • a negative COVID-19 lab test
  • a quarantine certification
  • an official ‘health declaration card’

Further, tourists headed to Boracay Island need a letter of acceptance from their destination hotel, which must be on an approved list. (The approved list was removed from the government’s website, and I can only imagine it was being revised. Check the official website for updates. That is where visitors will find the health declaration card.)

What this means:

Domestic tourism can start on Boracay Island (previously it was regional tourism).

Word is – the hope is – international tourists will be allowed back into the Philippines- and Boracay- by October. We shall see…

Something will be better than nothing. Reports put local unemployment at more than 46 percent! People are becoming more desperate for income with each passing week.

I do think opening up the airports will result in more tourists. But I don’t think it’s going to return to the ‘old normal’ any time soon – and certainly not in 2020. I hope tourism numbers approach levels that will support locals by the end of 2021. We shall see…

What about leaving Aklan?

Anyone can leave. That was always the case. The issue was finding an easy way off Panay Island.

The three approved airlines that now take passengers into Aklan are also allowed to take passengers out of Aklan.

Most outbound flights will run back to Manila or Cebu — the largest and second largest cities in the Philippines, respectively.

But your international flight is always at risk for cancellation, thereby stranding you in Manila or Cebu. And you just read about all that is required to get back into Aklan. Plus, Americans are not welcomed in many places at the moment.

So we aren’t going anywhere just yet. Besides, we are enjoying Malay municipality — both the mainland and Boracay Island.

It really is a great place on Earth.

Jawili Beach, mainland Aklan, between Caticlan and Kalibo, Panay Island, Philippines.

Thanks for reading, “Tasty triggerfish and tourism flights: Life in Aklan.”

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Tasty triggerfish and tourism flights: Life in Aklan

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