It was mostly about work during my first visit in Iloilo but made sure to devote a whole day to explore the City with the boys. A truly fast-emerging destination for commerce and tourism. It is a booming place with a lot of building constructions, real estate developments, call center companies, and huge malls. It reminded me a lot of Manila but it is a sight to behold seeing less traffic on the road even during rush hours. Streets are mostly empty at the Iloilo Business District while the heavy car flow is just on the main tourist areas.
If planning a tour by yourself or with a guide, here are some places that you may consider visiting for a one-day trip:
- Garin Farm – Located at San Joaquin and an hour and a half drive from the City. As you arrived, prepare Php150.00 for the entrance fee. Get ready to walk in the farm (you might smell foul odors along the way) then take a stop at the nipa hut to get acquainted with all the vegetables in the Bahay Kubo folk song (each one is planted around the kubo according to the sequence of the song). After a few elevated steps, you will get at the foot of the real climb! Take the 456 steps up while reflecting on the life of Jesus as a stopover. Eye on the Divine Mercy Cross and take a solemn moment reaching the peak with all is blinding whiteness—a version of heaven.
- Miagao Church – Completed in 1797, the church is famous for the artistic sculptural relief carved on its façade. In 1993, the church was designated as one best example of the Baroque Churches of the Philippines and included in the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. (Reference: Explore Iloilo)
- Tatoy’s – There are many branches but we ate at their resort-resto in Sto. Niño Sur Arevalo branch. Having lunch in front of the beach is the most amazing! Meal serving is a lot but the taste of the food is just okay and service is lousy; servers are inattentive.
- Molo Mansion – Build in the 1920s and named Yusay-Consing Mansion; the place had hosted two Philippines Presidents— Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio Osmeña. While there is an attempt to preserve the historical ambiance, the lobby has become an SM Kultura store and the garden is now filled with restaurants. It could have been kept with fewer establishments.
- Jaro Cathedral – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) formally declared the cathedral as the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Candles (Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria) on February 2012. It is the second national shrine in the Visayas. (Reference: Wikipedia)
Drive around the City Proper and quickly visit their landmarks: Arroyo Fountain, Libertad Train, Dinagyang Festival path, and Iloilo Port.
We were supposed to walk around La Paz Market but the weather did not permit (thanks to typhoon Domeng) so we went to Atria for Netong’s La Paz Batchoy and took a cup of coffee at Madge Cafe. The batchoy is good but not to crave for while Madge Cafe is a complete disappointment. The cappuccino tasted like chocolate powder drink and the black coffee was bitter thick and not fresh; the cafe has no coffee aroma. You also need to pay Php40/hour when charging your phone on top of paying for your drink/food order. I like to think that this unhappy encounter with these local favorites is just at Atria branch and does not reflect the other stores.
But we have discovered other good food! I am not a fan of biscocho (baked bread) but this has changed after a having a bite from Biscocho Haus! It has the right crunch, sweetness, and creaminess. Oh, the Guimaras mango remains the best of its kind! We will get back to Iloilo as full vacation next time! There are a lot more to explore there. We are eyeing these hotels for our next stay:
Richmond and/or Courtyard by Marriott – Located within the expanse of Iloilo City’s newest Megaworld township development along the Iloilo Business Park. The area is a budding economic district consisting of important corporate offices, modern residential area, and a stylish shopping and entertainment complex. In between these hotels is the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) that hosted the APEC 2015 as its initial event.
The Mansion – One of the most prominent landmarks in Iloilo City featuring a unique blend of Chinese, Spanish, and Filipino heritage and architecture offering 187 spacious and renovated rooms. It is a 1.5-hectare property at the heart of the main city.
A place to explore and a hotel to stay in, what would you recommend?