Iloilo &  Guimaras Day 1

One goal my wife and I have is to travel as a family at least once a year. This can be abroad (we’ve visited Korea and Taiwan over the past two years), but we intend to visit more islands in the Philippines. We even have a Philippine map posted on our bedroom wall so we can reminisce our past adventures and plan out our future trips.

Chay and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary in Iloilo and Guimaras island. We booked the trip last year when there was a seat sale on Cebu Pacific, and invited my mother- and sister-in-law to join us.

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 9:10 a.m. but, true to Cebu Pac’s tradition, our flight was delayed by 45 minutes. One thing I appreciated about Cebu Pacific was that they had their own counter for travelers with infants. However, you shouldn’t expect favorable seating as it’s a budget airline.

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In Iloilo we were flocked with taxi drivers. There were at least 20 peoples with signs barking at us, offering to drive us to the city. Since we were traveling with an infant and had a relatively large group, we decided to taxi to the city rather than take the shuttle or bus. The fare was P450 to Go Hotel, which may have been a lot, but we were tired and didn’t want to haggle down the price.

My first observation about Iloilo is that their taxi drivers are more reckless and aggressive than their Manila counterparts. We were swerving down the airport freeway like a chase scene from a movie. Fortunately, we made it to our hotel in one piece.

Go Hotel was our hotel of choice as it had separate rooms for our family and cost us less than P1,500 a night. It had cable TV and a hot shower and had the very basic necessities. However, some travelers may be irked that you’ll have to pay extra for basic toiletries like a toothbrush.

Check-in was at 1:30 p.m., so we first had lunch at Robinsons (boring I know). We tried out Deco’s as it had seats and was not available in Metro Manila. We ordered rice meals and Batchoy, an Iloilo delicacy. It was good, but didn’t blow us away. I was pleasantly surprised when they gave an extra bowl of broth for the batchoy.

After lunch, we checked-in and rested a few minutes before heading out again. Our first destination was Museo Iloilo which was a cool 20 minute walk away. Just kidding, it was burning hot and felt like a  40 minute walk. I learned my first lesson: If you’re traveling with three other people and a 9-month old baby, just take a cab. Quick tip for those traveling to Iloilo: it costs around 80 pesos to get anywhere. Another quick tip: Museo Iloilo is pretty small — it has two rooms. I estimate you’ll spend around 30 minutes or less there.

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We then walked to La Paz Public Market to try some real Iloilo Batchoy. Again, just take a cab or you’ll end up like us — we drifted over to JD Cafe Restaurant first to cool down. But we saved space for some real food. If you want the original batchoy, you can try Netong’s located in the very center of La Paz Market. You have to venture inside (and ask directions) to find it. But it’s air conditioned and clean inside. Despite having slivers of liver, I really enjoyed the batchoy. It had a lot of garlic and they served an extra bowl of broth.

After our second/third lunch, we headed over to Molo Cathedral. Beautiful building. We took a pictures from the outside. I appreciate that SM made it part of the CSR to develop the land in front of the cathedral and turn it into a park. You don’t see that much in Metro Manila. We later headed back to our hotel area and had dinner at Chika.An. Two words. Baked Scallops.

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See our next post for our trip to Guimaras.

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