This is the second part of my backpacking experience in Panay Island – exploring IloIlo. Ever wonder why it is called the Philippines’ City of Love? I’ve figured it out myself after my short stay at the province. But let me first show you the rich culture of the Ilonggo people.
From Guimaras Island’s Jordan Port to Ortiz Wharf is a boat ride amounting to Php14.00. Then I had a little walk and rode a Jaro-CPU route jeepney to find Calle Real to take some photos of the old building infrastructures. Minimum fare price around the city is Php6.50. I then rode another jeepney for the same fare to La Paz Public Market where I found the famous Madge Café. But why is Madge Café famous? It became an iconic coffee shop in Iloilo especially for travelers because of the personalized mugs and of course, the coffee itself. If you ordered a coffee and availed their personalized coffee mugs, it will then be kept in the café. So, by the next time you visit them again, they will prepare your coffee on your personalized mug. I ordered and tried the “media café”, strong coffee with milk for Php40.00 and “betchokoy”.
I had to ride a Jaro-CPU jeep again going to Jaro Cathedral. What is very noticeable is the Campanario de Jaro, one of the few church belfry in the Philippines which is separated from its church.
Another historical church to visit in Iloilo is the Miag-ao church in Miag-ao which is estimated 1hr and 20min away from the city proper. Fare is Php50.00 via jeepney that are only available at Terminal Market (Super Terminal according to the locals). Ceres bus is also an option. Buses are located in Molo Terminal. I was amazed by how the church was made and built. Inside the church is a well-maintained peaceful place truly for those who seek a personal relationship with God. Just to give everyone a FYI, I was about to run out of cash in my pocket when I was at Miag-ao and found out that there are only 2 ATM machines available in the area. Unfortunately, at that time, one of the machine is offline while the other machine had a long line of depositors waiting for their turn but I decided to wait and spent about almost an hour before I was able to withdraw.
Ever tasted a piece of heaven on earth? Then, visit Garin Farm in San Joaquin which is the last town in the western part of Iloilo, boundary of Antique. Garin Farm is literally a farm but offers a pilgrim’s journey inside. Quite confusing? Then you must go right there to see it yourself. Rooms are available for those who plans to stay overnight. The heavenly place that I was talking about is a replica of idea of what a real heaven was like to most people. This can be seen after passing the tiring stairs that will surely make you sweat before reaching the top. From Miag-ao Church located just beside the national road, San Joaquin is 30-45min away via jeepney or a bus ride. You can ride a tricycle for Php15.00 to the main entrance of the Farm from national road. Garin Farm entrance fee is Php200.00.
Not a City of Love, but a Province of Love
The dilemma was, it was already sunset when I left Garin Farm and I still don’t have a place to stay for the night. When I reached the national road again, I asked some local people if they know a nearby room that can be rented. The Ilonggos are very helpful. They even asked other locals to help me find a place to stay. They told me to try a beach resort nearby with the help of tatay Vicente using his tricycle. Unfortunately, the place is too expensive for a backpacker. They have an available room amounting to Php2,000 which is Php500 less from the cheapest available room in Garin Farm at that time. I’ve decided to go back to the city and look for a cheap hotel instead. It was already dark then. I asked tatay Vicente to drive me back to the national road and wait for a Ceres bus going to the city. Buses were always full and I did stand the whole trip of 2hrs. But before that, I was actually a little worried already. But tatay Vicente didn’t left me until I was able to get into a bus which we’ve waited for about 30min. I just hope I get to have a photo of him to show the world what a genuine kind man looks like. From the locals who helped me find a place to stay to tatay Vicente, that made me realized why Iloilo is called as the City of Love. Come to think of it, it’s not just the City but the whole province.