Iloilo City is a highly urbanized city on the southeastern tip of Panay island in the Philippines and is known as the “Heart of the Philippines” and “(Asia’s) City of Love because if its e musical to a nation of their dialect, that is sweet and charming.
I had only a glimpse of Iloilo when my foot touched its ground during the Iloilo Pasundayag 2014 with the Iligan City Tourism officers as a web staff of Iligan LGU website.
It took me 4 years to return to Iloilo. Thanks to AirAsia for their Inaugural flight from CDO to Iloilo, because for my second time around it pave a way to experience the city of love once more and brought us, Iligan Bloggers Society the chance to chase wonders in Iloilo.
We had about 48 hours to explore Iloilo. Yes, you read it right… 48 hours! It’s somewhat short but the group decided to make the most of it.
Our flight took as almost an hour from Laguindigan airport to Iloilo City. On our arrival, we took a van that brought us to the Madison Hotel.
The first thing we did upon our arrival at the hotel, was to order lunch since it was past 12 noon and our stomach was demanding for food.
Afterward, the group decided to take a cat nap before we start our journey of chasing wonders in Iloilo.
We arrived at around 5 pm at Iloilo River Esplanade or much known to locals as Esplanade. We were just in time for an ample stroll and catch the beautiful romantic sunset.
Esplanade stretches 1.2 Kilometers from Diversion Road officially Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. Avenue to Carpenter Bridge. It is also the most visited place not only by tourist but with the locals, may it be with their friends or families for a hearty jog or simply hang out in coffee shops and restaurants nearby the Esplanade.
As we reached the Carpenter Bridge we continued to navigate our foot to Molo old Mansion house passing through Molo Plaza and Molo church which took us about a few mins. Since Carpenter Bridge is located on the boundary of Molo and Mandurriao.
We culminated our first-day adventure in chasing wonders in Iloilo at Molo Mansion Café.
To be honest we were craving to taste the famous Batchoy in town but ended up with Pansit Molo a well-known heritage food and Molo Mansion serves the best pansit molo since they still follow the old way in preparing the dish. Truly indeed it tasted delicious. Namit gid!
The next day we woke up early and had breakfast and unfortunately the clock was ticking, showing down the hours and minutes left of our 48-hour adventure.
I must admit we really did not have an itinerary, so the group impromptu decided to rent a van and highlight our journey starting at GarinFarms and Pilgrimage then visiting centuries-old churches built during the Spanish empire on our way back to Iloilo City.
Our driver who was silent during the drive suddenly spoke to us and pointed out the Vanishing Mansion along Guimbal hi-way while narrating to us the folklore of the vanishing Mansion. “it’s a sometimes you see sometimes you don’t” he was referring to the century-old Acacia tree wherein sometimes a Mansion was seen in the acacia tree and sometimes a white lady would pass-by the street.
Manong Driver was kind enough to let us out the van to take pictures, while I was thinking our driver turned into a tour guide too with a smile.
Arrived at GarinFarm at around 9:20 am. GarinFarm is an agriculture, recreational and pilgrimage site merged into one place.
To reach the highest point of the Cross, you will need to climb 480 steps. But we were not into it because we were already taking the heat of the sun so we took instead the diversionary road uphill by an all-terrain vehicle.
On our way back to Iloilo, we were seeking for a tavern for our lunch break but we opted first to drop by a cemetery since it was a day before “all saints and all souls day. We were passing through San Joaquin hi-way, saw this century Old Catholic cemetery the San Joaquin Campo Santo.
“Campo Santo” literally means a burial ground or cemetery. The graveyard is also known for its mortuary chapel.
The cemetery was built during the Spanish- colonial period in the Philippines and is perhaps the best preserved in the entire Province of Iloilo.
The cemetery and church of San Joaquin have been designated as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines and is considered as a terrorist destination in the town of San Joaquin. (Oh it’s kind of weird though tourist frequent this place.)
Well its lunch time for us! Manong driver recommended a tavern known as Mang Doming’s Talaba and Seafood in the village of Kirayan Norte, a town of Miagao.
We ordered their house specialty steamed talaba and other meals offered such as Lechon Manok and belly and pansit bihon and had a spontaneous lunch.
Time to head back to Iloilo City while stopping over old churches. Our clock ticking..tick..tick..tick… a reminder of hours and minutes left of our 48 hours escapade in Iloilo.
Trivia: Miagao Church also known as the Santo Tomas de Villanueva Parish Church. A Roman Catholic Church located in Miagao, Iloilo City. The church was completed 1779 and is famous for its artistic sculptural relief curved on its façade.
It stands as a living legacy of the people in Miagao centuries ago because of its strong foundation of Christian faith.
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.
Trivia: The St. Nicolas of Tolentino Parish, or commonly known as Guimbal Church, is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines.
The church was completed sometime between 1769 and 1774 under the leadership of Fr. Juan Campos.
The yellow colored limestone blocks and “igang” (coral stones) powder used as part of the cement mixture. While the belfry serves as a watchtower during the Spanish era against prowling Moro pirates.
Trivia: The Tigbauan Church is unique in the country because of its Latin American churrigueresque architecture.
At the center, the façade is a seal of the Augustinian order surrounded by a retablo-like floral frieze, which fills the central section. Above the seal is a niche flanked by pilasters embellished with flowers and upon it is a depiction of San Juan. Capping the relief is the image of Santo Niño.
The interior of the church is impressive, with its mosaics and stone carvings.
Trivia: Jaro Cathedral, formally Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Candles is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Jaro. It is located in the district of Jaro in Iloilo City, Iloilo.
The Belfry of Jaro stands out as it is one of the few belfries in the country separated from the church. It lies just outside the plaza of Jaro and is facing Jaro Cathedral.
Records show that this religious structure was built by the Spaniards in the year 1744. Though it was primarily built for religious purposes, it also became handy as a military watchtower and as a clock tower at the same time. It was originally made from bricks, with fossil and limestones following a Neoclassic architecture.
On our way back to our hotel, we asked Manong driver if we could stop over for a while at the famous Deocampo Barquillos for “Pasalubongs”.
Although the Original Deocampo Barquillos are found in grocery stores nationwide it is a great pride of every tourist to visit the place personally to pick up their own choices of freshly baked delicacies for pasalubongs and saying in a boastful manner to friends ” Oh that comes from the house of the very famous Original Deocampo Barquillos! (with a big smile).
Deocampo Barquillious has been acclaimed for Illongo delicacies since 1896.
Other best sellers include toasted mammon, their version of Biscocho, and pasencia.
Arrived back at Madison hotel at around 5 pm and took a quick rest since we were a bit burned out from our long drive in chasing wonders in Iloilo.
It was past 6 pm when we headed for Plazuela De Iloilo.
Plazuela is a Smallville complex with a unique two-story Spanish-Italian design of the strip and has unquestionably attracted locals and tourist alike with their various restaurants and boutique.
Plazuela is located along Diversion Road in Iloilo City.
Time to wind up our night and catch dinner. Our foot took us to SM South Point.
Iloilo has a lot of food choices and we wanted something different that was unique and has a twist.
There were lots of restaurants that got us mixed up on what to try for dinner. Finally, our eyes caught a restaurant that was one of a kind.
Pitstop Restaurant serves mango infused on some of their menu dishes such as chicken mango adobo twist, mango Bangus sisig, and mango bulalo, the group gave it a try.
We were all curious and excited to try it out with the idea of mangoes in a pizza. Indeed it was amazingly good that when it landed right on our table, it was deliciously gone in an instant that was how good it was.
We woke up early the next morning to pack up and catch our return flight for Iligan City.
But wait … we still have one more church to visit before we leave to complete our 48 hours in Iloilo.
Trivia: Molo Church in Iloilo was originally built made of tabique Pampango with a chalk roof, then built temporarily with nipa by Fr. Jose Ma. Sichon in 1863. Plans for a concrete structure were made in 1866 and approved by Bishop Mariano Cuartero in 1869. The present Gothic-Renaissance church was immediately built after the approval of the plan. In honor of Saint Anne, this church was known to be a feminist church because of the two rows of sixteen female saint’s line on both sides of the altar. Molo Church was visited by Dr. Jose Rizal in 1886 because of its biblical paintings and it served as the evacuation center during World War II. The church was damaged during the liberation of the Philippines from Japan and was repaired by Rev. Manuel Alba with the help of the congregation.
The church was declared a national landmark by the National Historical Institute in 1992 through the representation of Sir Knight Rex S. Salvilla. It is the only Gothic church outside Manila.
To cap it all …. Our 48 hours in chasing wonders in Iloilo brought us to 16 popular tourist destinations in Iloilo but there are still a lot more to visit and explore. Perhaps on our next visit will do.”Kitaay Lang Kita Liwat, Iloilo!!”( until then Iloilo!).#now-pinay