Saturday, June 25, 2011

ILOILO CITY: 01 - Iloilo Doesn’t Love Churches


Iloilo shares the island of Panay with Aklan, Antique, and Capiz. Together with Negros Occidental and the island province of Guimaras, they form the geographical region of Western Visayas. Aside from the various Eco-tourism sites scattered across the province, Iloilo is more popularly known for its churches.


The journey started with an immediate side trip to Miag-ao to check out its church which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list of Baroque churches in the Philippines. The said municipality is an hour away by bus from Iloilo City. The island province of Guimaras is actually closer, just 15 minutes away by pump boat. Some of the other districts comprising Iloilo city are Jaro (famous for its cathedral and belfry), Molo (popular also for its church and Pancit Molo), and La Paz (home of the La Paz Batchoy), among others.


After checking in at Highway 21 Hotel, my Iloilo City tour started that Saturday night at Smallville. Neither Clark Kent nor Lana Lang was in sight, though. Oops, wrong Smallville. This Smallville is actually the center of nightlife in the city. Think of it as their answer to Malate minus the sleazy activities. The area indeed looks like a mini village of restaurants and bars clustered together and are mainly responsible for the lively atmosphere of the place. Of course, you have to drop by in the evening if you want to join the party scene because the place is rather dead in the afternoon. Bauhinia’s beef steak is delicious. I treated myself with an eclair care of Nothing but Deserts after that, while listening to live music from Pirates Bar across the street.


I was supposed to squeeze in Jordan, Guimaras to the itinerary early the next morning but it was raining hard. I decided that I would just go to the said province some other time and concentrate on Iloilo for now since my plane back to Manila was leaving that evening. When it was no longer raining, I hopped on a jeep to Jaro to check out the tourist sites there. Good thing I was able to grab all the brochures I could find at the airport, one of which came with a detailed map indicating where the major tourist spots are. Iloilo also serves as some sort of university center in the province as proven by the many dots in the map representing universities and schools.


You could see the Jaro Cathedral, Belfry, Plaza, and the Graciano Lopez Jaena Shrine in one stop for they are all located in one area. You could add the main branch of the Biscocho Haus to that list since it is just around the corner. I was trapped in the church because it started to rain so hard again. With that said, I had to hear an entire mass in Ilonggo, which was actually fun. It was a game of hit and miss in terms of understanding what the priest was saying. When the rain stopped, I ran to the Biscocho Haus to buy four packs of biscocho, which I now regret. I should have bought a box instead because those biscochos are just pure mouth-watering goodness. The former Lizares Mansion which now functions as the Angelicum School is just a five minute jeepney ride away.


Most of what was left in Jaro for me to see were some ancestral houses like Magdalena Jalandoni’s which is being refurbished as a museum, Nelly’s Garden, and the Philippine American Cemetery. I was able to see all of them and take a photo when I came back in the afternoon. However, for the morning I had to rush to SM City to buy an adaptor for my laptop to take advantage of the time before checkout to charge it. I left the hotel again at 12 in the afternoon after checking out. The hotel gave me a claim stub for my backpack.


I checked out Plaza Libertad and on the way there we passed by the Provincial Capitol and the Arroyo Fountain, which is considered as kilometer zero by the locals. There is another church by the plaza. Walk a bit farther towards the direction of the port and you see the Shrine of Muelle Loney, which sticks out like a sore thumb in an area full of bystanders and dilapidated buildings. Farther down south is what is left of Fort (or Port?) San Pedro. I think only a few of the original bricks are left there along with a statue by the port, nothing much to see. It was a Sunday and Museo Iloilo was closed but I was still able to snap a picture of its colorful exterior.


I rode a jeep to Arevalo after that. Yet another church! It is also within the vicinity of the church where you will find the monument of Queen Isabel of Spain’s crown. Down the road away from the church is the Sinamay House, which is said to sell good products made from the said material. Ride another jeep going back to the city proper to get to the church of St. Anne’s, also known as Molo Church. As opposed to the exclusive club of male saints in the Jaro Cathedral, all of the saints inside Molo’s church are female. The church does standout because of its domes. The Carpenter’s Bridge is also just a few cartwheels away.


I had a lot of time to get to the airport to make it to my flight. Now, I really have to say that Iloilo’s Airport looks so modern and international. The 200 peso terminal fee agrees with me. It is an international airport and it looks the part. Had it been a bit larger it would have given NAIA a run for its money. As for the city itself, it is really an urbanized area with a lot of Hispanic touch due to its churches and few ancestral houses. You could do a city tour of Iloilo in a day, so if you ever plan to go here you might want to opt for a longer stay and do a side trip to Guimaras and the other nearby provinces as well.

MIAGAO: 01 - How Baroque is Your Church?
ILOILO CITY: 01 - Iloilo Doesn’t Love Churches 

4 creature/s gave a damn:

jasetiojanco said...

Wow, Iloilo looks fantastic! I've been wanting to visit Iloilo ever since a friend of mine went there and told me that it's a haven for food trippers. I didn't know though that there are many tourist spots there. :P

ihcahieh said...

Yup, a lot of tourist spots but nothing beats its churches, especially the one in Miag-ao. The one in Molo is the runner-up, hehe. Their biscocho is just yummy and I regret not having bought a box! =)

Gabz said...

Everytime I'm home in Iloilo I always make sure to buy a box of biscocho before going back to Manila. The best talaga ang biscocho ng Biscocho Haus. My second favorite is the butterscotch.

ihcahieh said...

@Gabz - Haven't tried Butterscotch pero yung Biscocho, grabe. Laking sisi ko na hindi ako bumili ng isang kahon. Would you know kung may nabibilhan nun dito sa Manila?

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