Iloilo-Guimaras: On A Budget (Part 1)

Posted: August 30, 2012 in Blog, Travel
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Iloilo-Guimaras: On A Budget (Part 1)
Traveling Around should not be Expensive
ITLOG_No. 15
(05-10.07.2012)

We usually travel around places but do not spend much to see historical sites and beautiful places, there are airlines promos which everyone could avail and cost less than a quarter of the usual ticket cost, the accommodation should not be elegant and plush, because you just rest and sleep there and not stay the whole day, your valuables should be well secured and most of all have fun on the places you will visit.

We were able to get a promo flight going to Iloilo and was thrilled about this trip because we would be able to visit Guimaras and also the old church in Miang-ao, which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Our trip was booked for July 5th till the 10th, with a side trip to Guimaras. Checking the Net for places to visit in IloIlo, we were able to list down the following places like the Churches of Jaro and Molo, the old ancestral houses, the places where we could eat authentic ilonggo foods.

Arriving at Iloilo International Airport at around 0530hrs, after collecting our baggage, we headed for the taxi stand but was being charged Php500.00 pesos to take us to the town proper, then an old guy told us to try the van which costs only Php60.00 to take us to the city proper, so we got in the van and was dropped at General Luna Street and from there we took the Baluarte jeep which cost Php7.50 and went down in front of City Corporate Inn located at Rizal Street, which is near Ortiz Wharf, where we would take the ferry the next day going to Guimaras. Checking in our bags but was told that the rooms were still not available, so we waited for about 15 minutes, then we were told we could go in our room and then we rested a bit for it was still early to roam the city.

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After resting, we ask the front desk for directions and which jeepney to take to go around. We then took the CSI Jaro jeep (Php7.50) and headed for Nelly’s Garden.

Arriving at Nelly’s Garden, we were told that the garden was still closed and that we should have a reservation to go in and tour the grounds which costs Php60.00/PAX for a group of 6 persons minimum, we then decided to move on and walked to our next destination which was Jaro Church and Belfry. Along the way we passed by some old ancestral houses and took some photos plus the place where they serve authentic Kansi – Pat Pat’s Kansi House.

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Upon reaching Jaro Church, we decided to eat breakfast first at Ted’s La Paz Bachoy, which is one of the Original La Paz Bachoys in Iloilo, here I ordered a special Batchoy with more meat innards and eggs. After eating then we headed for Jaro Church and Belfy.

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Jaro Church and Belfy (Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary) was built in 1864, the year the district was named a diocese by Pope Pius the IX, by order of His Grace Mariano Cuartero, first bishop of Jaro. Destroyed in the quake of January 1948, and restored by order of His Excellency Jose Ma. Cuenco, the first archbishop of Jaro in 1956. The cathedral’s style is basically Baroque, with the addition of Gothic elements over many renovations.

The Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria (Lady of the Candles) is the only rose among the all-male collection of statues, which line the walls of the cathedral’s interiors. The Lady of Candles is perched on a glass-encased shrine carved out of the facade. The limestone is said to be continuously growing, and in fact had become too large to fit into its original niche just above the present one. Her shrine is visited often by many devotees, which they believe that the statue to be miraculous. This 400-year-old image is the focus of an annual Jaro Fiesta held every February 2.

The Jaro Cathedral is the first and only cathedral in Panay built in 1864. Baptized here was Graciano Lopez Jaena, patriot and orator, in December 20, 1856. A high point in the history of the cathedral was the visit of Pope John Paul VI, conducting a mass in 1982. He set a crown upon the Lady of the Candles, and declared it the Patroness of the Western Visayas.

We then took the jeep back to City Corporate Inn to rest because it was hot that day and decided to take lunch late because we were still full from our breakfast that we ate.

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At around 1330hrs, we took the jeep in front of the inn and headed for Pat Pat’s Kansi House to eat lunch. Reaching the place, we ordered kansi and grilled liempo. Kansi, is an Ilonggo recipe that is sort of like a cross between Bulalo (beef bone marrow and vegetables soup) and Sinigang (sour pork soup). Kansi is one of the finest delicacies of Bacolod City, it is Ilonggo’s version of the famous Bulalo. Enjoy the tangy and flavorful taste of Kansi and the aroma of lemon grass that will surely soothe you.

After a hearty lunch, we then took the jeep and headed for General Luna Street and went down near St. Paul School where we saw a bakery and got Baye Baye which is a Western Visayas dessert delicacy made from coconut water, grated scraped young coconut meat, sugar and toasted pinipig (pounded rice grains).

We then took the Villa jeep, and headed for Molo District where we would visit the feminist church in the Philippines, Molo Church or better known as the Parish of St. Anne.

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The Molo Church is one of the most familiar landmarks of Iloilo. Built in 1831, the church stands as a reminder of Iloilo’s rich history and a monument for Ilonggo artistry. The Molo exudes a blatant expression of Gothic-Renaissance architecture, the one of its kind outside Manila. The interior is a fusion of Gothic and Romanesque architectures, there is a constant alternation between the overpowering features of Gothic and the recessive characteristics of Romanesque.

The interior is rich in Gothic elements. There are five gothic altars, which are made of wood while beautiful paintings dominate the walls. Female Saints Stand on each pillar and a pair of interestingly decorated pulpits contrast the entire structure. The Spires of Molo are yet the most interesting colonial “skyscrapers” in Iloilo City aside from the neoclassic Belfry of Jaro.

Women wanting to be empowered by the graces of women saints have a place in Molo Church. This Molo Church made of coral rocks (affixed with a mortar made from egg whites mixed with sand) earned the moniker “women’s church” because of the presence of 16 images of women saints inside. The centerpiece in the retablo is the image of Sta. Ana, the patron saint of Molo.

It is said that in August 4, 1886, Dr. Jose Rizal, on his way back to Manila from his exile in Dapitan, passed by the church to pray and view its collection of biblical paintings, which is no longer extant.

Molo church is very sturdy and has survived fires, earthquakes, and artillery barrages in 1945. Molo church was made as an evacuation center for the civilians during WWII. One of its towers, is said to have been destroyed by the Americans after suspecting it of being used for military purposes by the Japanese during the Second World War. The bells still bear the scars of bullets shot at Philippine resistance fighters in the Second World War. The National Historical Institute declared it a national landmark in 1992.

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Before leaving the church, we saw a statue outside and inquired about it, and we were told that he was Pedro Calunsod, who they say would be the next Filipino saint, originally from Iloilo then moved to Cebu where we was killed in Guam while helping Fr. Diego Catechize and Baptize the Chamorro People.

After visiting Molo Church, we saw a stand near the church that sells mango shake, we ordered a big cup to cool off the afternoon heat. And then took the jeep to UP Iloilo, then another jeep to take us to SM Iloilo, where we bought bread and look at some stuffs to bring home.

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Taking a couple of jeepney rides back to City Corporate Inn where we rested a bit and then went to the nearby Panederia de Molo and looked at their Pasalubongs, then ordered Molo soup for dinner, after which, we went back up to our room and rested for the night.

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Waking up around 0600hrs to prepare for our trip to Guimaras, together with our friend, which arrived the night before, we headed for Ortiz Wharf after grabbing some coffee and a hot choco at the nearby Dunkin Donuts, but was told that the ferry are docked in Parola. We then took the trike and headed for Parola and paid the fare of Php15.00/PAX, listed our names at the manifest and then boarded the boat named “Kevin Lee”. After sometime, the ferry shoved off and headed for Guimaras, docking there after about 15minutes. We were met by our guide named “Mai” at Jordan Port, after the usual pleasantries, we boarded his trike with our bags and headed for Raymens Beach Resort, which is located at Alubihod Beach, which is one of the most popular resorts in Guimaras. Leaving our bags at the check-in counter then eating a heavy breakfast in the their restaurant which we ordered what we thought was something original to Iloilo which was the “Uga Tabagak“, upon arriving our order was just “Tuyo”. After a brief rest, we then started our tour of Guimaras, headed for Guisi Lighthouse, which was built aroung the 18th century.

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The Guisi Lighthouse is an 18th century Spanish-colonial lighthouse built beside the beach. It was built to guide mariners passing the Iloilo and Guimaras strait. The lighthouse can be reached by following a light trail. The 15-minute uphill trek to the Guisi Lighthouse also provides a great view of the beach. At the top of the hill are the ruins of a Spanish-colonial outpost and the rotting remains of the metal lighthouse structure. Although the condition of the old lighthouse is already in disarray the Guimarasnons take pride in having the second oldest lighthouse, next to the old lighthouse in Aparri, Cagayan.

We were guided up the lighthouse by a volunteer named “mang Bobet Cordero”, who, together with another volunteer, does not have a fixed salary but sustain their needs by the donations that the tourists give. He talked about how old the structure is, and showing another old lighthouse farther up the mountain and a newer lighthouse, which was powered by solar energy. Showing us every corner of the ruins and offered us to climb the old lighthouse, but one person at a time, because of the deteriorating condition of the lighthouse.

After signing the guestbook, and seeing other visitors arriving, we were brought down the beach by our guide to see its golden-yellow sands and its seascape. After taking more than enough photos, we left Guisi Lighthouse and headed for Valle Verde and saw the scenic view of the mountain, here we just rested a bit and then headed onward to Trappist Abby.

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The Trappist Monastery grounds, is a peaceful and sacred enclave in Guimaras run by monks of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance. These monks follow the rule of St. Benedict and are best known for the extreme austerity or strictness that characterizes their discipline.

The monks earn a living by selling souvenir items and processed foods such as jellies, jams, candies, piyaya and more, which are sold in a small shop within the monastery grounds. All the products are from ingredients grown in the Trappist grounds.

You can tour the monastery grounds, and visit their prayer areas. Don’t forget to talk with the monks and nuns. They’re all friendly and are full of wise thoughts and things to contemplate about while you’re spending your time in serenity. There also guest houses, which are available at reasonable prices for those who would want a retreat from the stresses of life.

Here we bought a lot of pasalubongs, rosaries and sinukuan na kahoy, which they say they get only on holy weeks because if it is an ordinary week, there would be no cross seen in the middle of the wood, and they say this brings good luck. We had the rosaries and the sinukuan be blessed by Br. Benedict, and then toured the grounds. Headed for the chapel and after, we then talked to Br. Peter Patiño, who gives out letters to pharmacies that they would pay for the medicines when people bring their prescriptions to them, here Br. Peter pleaded for donation and if there are any, to send them thru LBC, which we will try to get for them. After our goodbyes, we headed for a place along the road where we would eat our lunch.

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Eating our lunch at Liza’s Talabahan, where we ordered Oysters, grilled squid, samaral, kalderetang kambing, and for dessert ripe mangos (which Guimaras is known for). After our hearty lunch, we continued on to our next destination, which took us a bit longer to go to, which was Navales Church.

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Navalas Church in Guimaras is considered to be the oldest structure in this island. Built in 1880 Navalas Church also known as San Isidro Labrador Church in Barangay Navalas the municipality of Buenavista, has been the oldest seat of the Catholicism in this island, and the product of community labor and unity.

Navalas Church is made of coral rocks abundant in the area during the construction of this edifice. Don Miguel Jayme who has contributed much to the construction with Doña Carmen Javellana, which donated the piece of land where the Church lies.
It is fenced with old stone structures and has a watchtower that serves as the entrance gate. The watchtower was used to guard the Church from the Moro intruders. This structure also is the belfry of the church that once held a big bell made of an alloy of silver and gold. The history tells that Muslims once raided Navalas and took away the bell but threw it at the middle of the sea near the Siete Pecados Islands because it was too heavy. That bell played a major role and served as the warning device for the impending intruders’ attack as it can be heard even up to the town of Dumangas across the Iloilo Strait.

Going further down the road, we reach the place called Roca Encantada.

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One of Guimaras’ famous landmark, is the summer house of the Lopez Clan built atop a hill, also known as Roca Encantada or “Enchanted Rock”.

The house was built in 1910 in honor of Dona Presentacion Hofilena Lopez. Suprisingly despite the modern exterior, the idyllic mansion is a “heritage house” as declared by the National Heritage Institute.

The grand balconies of Roca Encantada, offers a picturesque view of the beach front and Iloilo Strait with “La Islas de Siete Picados” not far from its coast.

Here we stayed a little bit longer and took a lot of photos around the house, and thinking how the opulent people live, and can do anything just to satisfy their desires. Created by dumping sandbags at the water to make a pathway going to the rock. We later learned that the lopez clan has a lot of island around Guimaras,

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Heading back to Raymen, we passed by a World War II ruins, and saw that it was the former Headquarters of Douglas MacArthur and now converted to a water pumping station. Moving along we passed by a pizza joint named “Pitstop”, where we saw that they serve an unusual kind of pizza, the flavor is Mango Pizza with Cashew Nuts. Reaching Raymens Beach Resort, we ordered beer and ate the pizza then lazed around till we fell asleep. Tomorrow would be another day of island hopping.

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Till Tomorrow…

Special thanks to the following people:

Br. Benedict
Br. Peter S. Patiño, OCSO
Trappist Abby, Guimaras
For donation please call 0905.301.4599

Bobet Cordero
Volunteer at Guisi Lighthouse
09107924028
09176406499

All photos are owned and copyrighted by Joey Rico (also known under these names: alien_scream).
All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use, copy, editing, reproduction, publication, duplication and distribution of the digital photos, without his explicit permission, is punishable by law

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Philippines License.

Comments
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