B – Bacolod I – Iloilo G – Guimaras
Iloilo is very tourist-friendly. From the airport’s exit, there is a station for vans bound to SM City Iloilo for PhP50. From the famous mall, jeepneys going around the friendly town roam around. We rode one going to Mandurriao to get to Go Hotels. It is located at the Robinson’s Mall. Have booked a room early this year for almost PhP800. Regular room rate won’t cost you much (probably less than PhP1,500).
After leaving our luggage to them, off we went to our first stop – Molo. There are jeepneys directed to the nearby town. Molo Church would easily get your attention. Don’t hesitate to ask the drivers as most of them are happy to help and guide you. Regular fare is PhP7.50.
From Molo, we then rode another jeepney bound to San Joaquin (thanks to the kind policemen who waited for a ride with us!) I was originally planning on visiting Miag-Ao which is 45 minutes away from the city. San Joaquin is even farther but since it’s only 15 minutes awa from Miag-Ao, we gave it a shot. Fare is PhP60 each.
The surroundings of the towns we visited are identical. Near the church is the plaza and the town hall. There’s usually a gazeebo and a statue of Jose Rizal. San Joaquin Church’s facade was under construction. After a few moments of silence and roaming around the town, we traveled going to Miag-Ao. Fare is PhP15.
Miag-Ao is one of the UNESCO World Heritage site. To be honest, I expected it to be bigger but it’s still beautiful! The architectural details and the historical vibe of the place really made all the effort worth it. The sun is not shying behind the clouds but it was very cool even inside the church.
From Miag-Ao, we traveled back to the city. We arrived an hour past lunch (and an hour away from hotel check-in!). We didn’t go far and had lunch inside Robinson’s Mall. We tried Hungry Ninja. Cheapest food (a portion of a chicken and rice) costs PhP46. As our feet grew tired for half a day’s adventure, we retreated to our room for a quick nap.
I was surprised at how pleasant the room is (given the amount I paid for it). There’s one queen-sized bed, a flat TV, basic toiletries, shower and a foldable table (?). AC worked pretty well. Only complain I have would be the noise from the hallway and the other rooms which are audible inside our room. But other than that, I felt like I got more of what I paid for.
At half past four, we roamed around the city. Starting with Plaza Libertad. Found nothing special about this place but it’s close to a branch of Coffee Break and Biscocho Haus. It’s a stone’s throw away, too, from the downtown where we walked in search of Calle Real. We asked a lot of people where it was and we got different answers. Little did we know that we are walking along the place we are looking for! It was a five-block (rough estimate) stretch. We walked from Plaza Libertad to the Iloilo Capitol and back.
First half of our second day was spent in Bacolod. But before we rode a ferry going to the nearby city in the Negros province, we stopped by La Paz for breakfast. We searched for Netong’s which we found inside the public market. I’m not a big fan of noodles and innards, but Netong’s batchoy is a must-try for all those who wants to visit Iloilo.
Jumping to our fourth day… We had a few hours left before our flight back to Manila, so we decided to visit Museo Iloilo and Jaro. Entrance fee for the museum is PhP50. There are a few interesting things in there. But what captured me the most is the gallery where they showcase paintings of local artists. They are for sale. Unfortunately, it’s out of my budget. I wanted to buy one piece (maybe when I come back soon).
Jaro is 10 minutes away from the museum which is just beside the capitol. We visited Jaro Cathedral and its belfry. Too bad the church was closed for maintenance but it was one of the most photogenic places I’ve seen. The belfry at the plaza across the church is so intimidating. It’s almost similar to the bell tower we visited in Ilocos earlier this year. But this one is bigger.
In general, Iloilo is one of the friendliest places I’ve visited. Though we had an itinerary at hand, going from one place to another is a task. We rode jeepneys without any guarantees that they’ll take us to where we want to go. But thanks to the kind locals who are always very willing to help out a lost traveler.
I can’t wait to be back and explore more towns! 🙂