Nobody was prepared for what was to come in our Iloilo-Guimaras trip. For one, Iloilo isn’t one of the more popular tourist spots. People don’t go about bludgeoning each other for an Iloilo promo fare, unlike, for example, Palawan or Bohol. But tracing my roots to this beautiful Panay province, I excitedly booked roundtrip tickets and prepared our travel itinerary. Together with six of my friends, we braved stormy open seas and endured a series of unfortunate events for this one amazing, unique experience.
First stop was Iloilo. this province has several nice beaches too in Guimbal, Carles, and Concepcion. However, the highlights of our trip were the visit to old churches, food tripping, and savoring the rural experience in the faraway rice fields of Oton.
The weather could be better, but it didn’t stop us from taking wonderful pictures of Miagao and Molo church. We also took a long drive to UP Iloilo, majority of the group being UP graduates. The atmosphere there isn’t really too far from the ambience in UP Diliman with the campus’s vast expanse and the blossoming flora within and around the area. We had lunch at Breakthrough with a menu of crabmeat, baked talaba, pork sisig, and a unique dessert of honey in coconut milk. After a long day of rain, we went back to our cozy little home right smack in the heart of hectares and hectares of rice paddies. We had to cross the several muddy rice paddy bridges called “pilapil.” This proved to be a big challenge to our balance systems but it was a good exercise, with all the calories we had to burn from a hefty breakfast of Ted’s la Paz batchoy and all that Breakthrough goodness.
Our second day wasn’t smooth sailing either. The really bad weather scared the wits out of us, and we almost didn’t push through with our Guimaras trip. The 15-minute boat ride to Guimaras, although relatively short, still posed a threat since we had to traverse the open seas. Counting on the years of experience of our bangkeros, we gingerly boarded the Banca. Once in Guimaras, we found a glint of hope with The promise of a sunnier day. We hired a multi cab for a one-hour drive (half of which is on rough roads) to our resort: La Puerta Al Paraizo. The long drive was indeed all worth it when we get to see the breathtaking view from our room terrace.
Several islets and rock formations were visible from our room. We took half the day exploring the area, taking quite a number of wonderful pictures. The La Puerta staff were exceptional, making sure that all our needs were tended to with a smile. The food was also amazing. You have to try their fish in black beans, chicken chili, and chopsuey. Their meals are good for sharing, so if you’re traveling in a big group you get to save more. During the night, we played cards under the splendid sky, with the sound of waves crashing in the background and with the smooth, fine sand under our toes. We stayed in a fan room, and the lack of a/c wasn’t too much of a problem. we still slept well as the morning breeze and perfect view welcomed us in the morning. And although we enjoyed the view from our resort, we refused to leave without exploring the nearby islands. We rubbed sunblock on our faces, readied our sunglasses, and donned our swimsuits, unaware of the impending doom that is to follow. the Weather appeared okay when we left, Mister Sun being very visible in the afternoon sky. We passed by a long row of mangroves, this being a first for all of us. It was a rare thing to jumpstart your island hopping with this kind of view. after several minutes, the rain started pouring. It was raining cats and dogs! We only got to Taklong Island Marine Reserve for a bit of swimming. It was quite a disappointment not being able to see the sea turtles and several more wonderful spots for snorkeling. This will be in our list of must-sees if we ever get to have another chance to visit the island. On our way back to Iloilo, we took a side trip to the Guisi Lighthouse. The beach view from there is amazing. The ruins also offered a different kind of flavor in this trip. If we just had the luxury of time, we could’ve went down the narrow staircase leading to the Guisi beach breakwater.
Iloilo’s weather was better when we reached the wharf. We went directly to Tatoy’s for a much deserved lunch and ordered native chicken, pork sisig, beef tapa, crablets, and five platters of baked talaba. It had really been a sumptuous feast!
Our Iloilo-Guimaras trip had it’s highs and lows. If the weather was on our side, our trip could’ve been completely different. But in my heart, there’s been no regret. We were able to make do with what we have, with flying colors. We found ways to amuse ourselves. We took the liberty of taking wonderful pictures. We ate to our hearts’ content. We were taking a leisure trip with no pressing schedules. We lay down on the beach under a clear night sky. We got a taste of authentic rural life. In my heart, truly, there is no regret. Only a yearning to have more of these wonderful times.. Only a hope that sometime in the future, I could visit this really amazing place once again, in the company of good friends. 🙂