On June 15, 2015 on board Cebu Pacific 16:40 flight, my boss and I flew to Iloilo City from Laguindingan Airport to attend a work related meeting. We arrived at the Iloilo Airport 30 minutes ahead of schedule, but had to stay about an hour waiting for the service vehicle assigned to fetch us who unfortunately was stuck in the traffic. We arrived at the booked hotel at 7:30PM, had our dinner and called it a day.
The following day, it was all about work. One whole day of meeting and discussions,after all, that’s the very reason why we are in the city. But the good part was, we still had a chance to explore places and eat interesting foods while in the city.
So here’s the summary of what I did (sometimes with companions) in the city;
1. Stayed at Diversion 21 Hotel
We were booked in one of the best hotels in town located at the Diversion Road, Mandurriao Iloilo City just a walking distance from SM City. The hotel offers the best amenities so far, I occupied an air-conditioned matrimonial room with 40” LCD Cable TV, free internet (which I haven’t used because of my mobile data), hot & shower, private phone, fridge and a safety deposit box. Because it was an all-expenses paid by the company, I did not bother about the price. You can check it out at their FB page, if you want to.
2. Explored Calle Real
On June 16, after our whole day meeting (around 7:45PM), Mam Edith and I went to explore the historic business district of the city, the Calle Real also known as the JM Basa Street. The old business center way back in the Spanish colonial and the American period was declared as the Heritage Zone of the city in 2014. Along the street, you’ll find old buildings constructed in the 19th and 20th century that were preserved and restored.
The picture above is the Villanueva Building, also known as the International Hotel.
We took a cab from the hotel to Villanueva Building, too afraid to get lost, hence the activated GPS to track down our location. From there, we started taking pictures with care, considering it’s already night time with only a few pedestrians passing by.
We walked, going back to where we came from and reached the Provincial Capitol of Iloilo.
We continued walking to the right to take a look of the St. Agustin Church our last stop in that area, but unfortunately we weren’t able to take photos because the lights were already out.
With no SM City route jeepney in sight, we decided to take a cab going back to the hotel.
3. Experienced the Original La Paz Batchoy at Teds
While inside the taxi, Ma’am Edith and I started talking about the La Paz batchoy, when the taxi driver told us that there is a place near the hotel that serves the original dish. Mr. Kind Taxi Driver dropped us at Ted’s Batchoy along Diversion Road.
We ordered an “extra special batchoy “at P85.00 per serve + P12 for additional egg. Very affordable.
I have tasted La Paz batchoy in other parts of the Philippines but nothing beats the original. It was indeed delicious.
From Ted’s we walked to Diversion 21 Hotel which is about 50 meters away, went to our individual room and rested. The next day was another set of activities..
4. Sailed to Guimaras
After breakfast, on board a 44 seaters pumpboat, the group headed to Guimaras Province to visit the newly installed Wind Farm. A separate write up to be posted soon.
At past 1PM we’re back in the mainland. Some of our colleagues already went to the airport for their afternoon flights to Manila and Cebu, leaving my boss and I behind because our flight was scheduled the next day. That means, I still have a half day left to explore the city.
5. Visited the Jaro Cathedral and Belfry
Iloilo is really full of historic architectures and one of them is the Jaro Metropolitan Catherdal also known as the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Candles. The Cathedral was originally built in 1874 but was destroyed by an earthquake in 1928. Eight years later in 1956 it was repaired by Jose Maria Cuenco, the first Archbishop of Jaro.
Finding the church from the hotel is quite easy, I took a Leganes line jeepney to Jaro Plaza and from there, walked my way to the church which is on the other side of the plaza. Took photos of the church from across the street, went in to light candles and say my prayers.
Right across the church is the 29 meters high Jaro Belfry originally built in 1744. Belfry or bell towers usually built next to church, but the Belfry in Jaro is one of the few belfries in the Philippines that was built separate from the church.
6. Took a Peek at the Grandiose Lopez Heritage House
Also known as the Nelly’s Garden, a national heritage house built in 1928 is also a must see architecture in the city. Because the gates were closed, I settled by taking photos from the fence.
7. Tasted the Best Siopao in Town
From Nelly’s Garden, my next destination is the Calle Real. Aside from wanting to see the historic business center at day time, I had to put my hands on the best siopao in town. Thus, I took a cab to JM Basa Street, and asked Manong Driver to drop me at Roberto’s. It was a wise decision to hop in a taxi because it started to rain.
Looking at the long queue at Roberto’s, I think that the siopao there, is indeed a must eat food in the city. I joined the crowd and patiently waited for my turn and took with me 3 Queens and 3 King Siopaos, one I am planning to eat at the hotel while the remaining 5 will be taken home.
The rain restrained me from going to my next destination in my checklist, the Molo Church and the River Esplanande. I have no choice but to head straight to the hotel and ate one of the Queen siopao paired with a cup of steaming hot coffee. Enjoying the soft bun with bacon, Chinese sausage, chicken-pork abodo with egg was indeed one sold out experience in a rainy Iloilo.
8. Souvenir and Pasalubong Shopping
After devouring one whole siopao, I am energized to go shopping for souvenirs and pasalubong. I went to SM City to look for Iloilo souvenir ref magnets which I picked up two at Kultura. Later, went to a nearby Starbucks Coffee Shop to get an addition to my collection, the SB city mug.
One more stop before returning to the hotel was at the Biscocho Haus located at Plazuela de Iloilo for delicacies pasalubong for my family and friends back home.
My two days stay in Iloilo City was indeed a very pleasant one. Iloilo City is truly a place with great value of history, delicious foods and friendly people. I am looking forward to visit the city again, and by that time, I’ll make sure to visit the rest of the historical places that the Iloilo is known for.