This year’s first stop – Iloilo. The city is part of Philippines’ Panay island and is well-known for its old Spanish churches and houses. Oh, and not to mention its famous delicacies as molo soup and batchoy.
We stayed for 3D2N at GT Hotel. To be honest, this place is much more than I expected. For a cheap price, we got a very decent room with breakfast included. And the location’s pretty good too since it’s walking distance from Robinson’s Place mall and jeepneys that pass nearby so it’s easy and no hassle getting around.
On our first day, right after we checked in, we went to Molo – Molo cathedral, Molo mansion – and stopped by the Iloilo river esplanade.
The cathedral looks stunning. Not really sure if it has been renovated before, nevertheless, you could really see the Spanish style to it.
Just across the church is the Molo Mansion. From the outside, it does seem like royalty used to live there. We thought it is some kind of a museum where we could roam around inside but actually it’s just a souvenir shop.
Quite disappointing but beside the mansion are food stalls and of course, we tried their infamous molo soup. Pardon my memory but I forgot how much this costs. One thing for sure, it’s not that costly. This is surely for anyone who’s had a long day.
Around 10 minutes walk from the mansion is the Iloilo river esplanade. I recommend this place for anyone who just wants to unwind, to just sit back and relax. Peaceful and quiet, a good spot for book lovers.
This sums up our day. The following morning, we headed out early to Guimaras.
About 5 minutes from our hotel is Ortiz wharf where there are ferries going to and from Guimaras every now and then. For only PHP22, you could already get to the other side thru a 15-minute ferry ride. Upon arrival, just outside the terminal, there are staff from the tourism office that would assist you on what activities you’d want to do and hook you up for a ride.
Our first stop was the capitol with the I <3 Guimaras. We were the first group to arrive so we were lucky enough to take group pictures with just us.
Next, we went to Trappist monastery. In there was a small church and a souvenir shop. Beside it is a coffee shop with specialty – mango coffee. Of course we gave it a try, and yes, it is delicious. Weirdly delicious.
Immediately after we stayed for lunch and had a short swim at Alubijod cove. The resort has an entrance fee of PHP50 and was pretty jam-packed then. It was well-maintained I would say – clean, accommodating staff. However, we transferred next door – Raymen Beach Resort.
Alubijod only offers small boats (max of 6 pax) for island hopping while Raymen has a boat that could carry up to 30 people (there were 23 of us).
Too bad I didn’t have much pictured during the island hopping – busy swimming. But we went to about 5 islands in total. Since it was low tide then, we weren’t able to go to the turtle sanctuary. So, we just swam near it despite the rocks and corals we accidentally scratch our feet into.
On our way back, we stopped by Pitstop restaurant where we had the mango pizza. It was full of cheese and mangoes and they’re unbelievably a good combination. They also have other dishes in the menu that has mango in it like mango sisig and mango dinuguan, for example. I’d definitely try those next time.
For the next day, we just visited Jaro for a while – Jaro cathedral to be specific. The church was closed so we only walked around outside. Didn’t stay that long because it started raining after a while.
I guess that pretty much sums up our whole trip. There are still a lot of places to visit in Iloilo but we mostly stayed within the city. For a better experience, I would suggest coming here during the Dinagyang festival. I haven’t tried this yet but I’m sure this will be a pretty amazing experience.