I just came back from my second visit to Iloilo this morning. I want to share with you some of my reasons why I love this place, and why I think it is one of the best travel destinations in Asia.
>>> Kind Ilonggos >> They helped us with direction as we navigated the city and nearby towns during our five nights stay. One elderly lady overheard me and my colleague transacting with a trike driver to bring us to Acao in Cabatuan, and in Ilonggo dialect directed us near the police booth. The police told us trikes could not go to Acao, and they were able to connect us to a driver of a ‘singgol’ motor bike which became our service until we finished our business in that far part of Cabatuan town. We gladly gave tip to the driver. I was just too happy to be back to the market in one piece.
>>> Sweet accent & language >> who would not fall in love in the way they speak?
>>> Smoke-free Iloilo campaign >> I would love for the whole country to be smoke free! Quezon City, please pick this up…
>>> Rehabilitated Iloilo River >> It took them years, but they made it possible. We heard it was started by the incumbent mayor, and the city really allotted budget for it. Now it has become a very nice view, especially from the roof top of the city hall. Imagine if we could rehabilitate every river in the cities!
>>> Esplanade >> This is probably one of my favorite spots in the city esp during late afternoon/ early evening. Not just the cool breeze I felt walking along the clean Iloilo River, but seeing a lot of people walking / running and benefiting from the rehabilitation efforts made me feel happy being in that place.
>>> I like taking photos of old buildings and churches, and Iloilo has a lot of these. I was able to visit this massive church in Cabatuan which was built in 1834. According to wikipedia it is one of the most beautiful churches in the country.
Below is Santa Barbara church built in 1845. Visit exploreiloilo.com for more info on these two churches and the rest of Iloilo’s old buildings.
>>> Well maintained plazas >> this is one of the things we don’t have in Metro Manila. In Iloilo plazas we saw young people playing basketball or practising bar-tending under the shade of the trees, the elderly people exercising, sitting, reading a newspaper or singing by themselves, children running around safely, and tourists like us just enjoying the serene view of how these people live their lives in a simple way.
>>> Football fields in almost every town that I visited. It’s no surprise that Ilonggos are very good in this sport, having produced one of the greatest Filipino footballers in the country, Chieffy Caligdong.
>>> Iloilo city’s Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog ranked 5th in world mayor search of 2014. For me that says a lot about him and the city itself.
>>> It is home to breath-taking beaches. From Iloilo you can also easily go to Guimaras, Kalibo, Boracay, etc.
Have I bored you yet? I can go on with my list, esp mentioning the different festivals they celebrate. Oh, I need to say that I felt safe while walking the streets of the city, though I know it is not 100% crime-free. The government’s effort of controlling drug abuse related crimes is also evident in the many posters and police presence in different parts of the city
Book a flight to Iloilo soon and experience the province/city yourself. We hope to come back next year for the Dinagyang Festival.
Have you been to Iloilo? What do you like about this province?