6 Reasons to Spend Your Next Vacation in Iloilo
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Iloilo is one of the most progressive and interesting provinces in Visayas. Colonial mansions and historic churches stand along modern building structures. Popular tourist destinations are just several minutes away from city centers. So, if you need to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities without completely cutting yourself away from civilization, Iloilo should be your next destination. Here are more reasons why:
Dinagyang Festival of Iloilo
1. Experience Dinagyang Festival
The festivity is celebrated every fourth weekend of January in honor of the Holy Child Jesus and in commemoration of the native’s Christianization.
Highlights of the day include a very colorful and happy parade of tribal dancers in their elaborate, eye-catching costumes coupled with a dramatization of religious evangelization. Rhythmic shuffling of thousand feets, thundering of drums, and shouts of “Visa Señor Sto. Nino” and “Hala Bira” can be heard in the background, adding life to the celebration.
Netongs Original La Paz Batchoy
2. Eat La Paz Batchoy
Iloilo prides itself as home to the original La Paz batchoy. Indeed, once you’ve tasted the “original”, all the other batchoys would taste bland. This delicious noodle soup is made of miki submerged in a hot, tasty clear soup of meat, bone marrow and garlic topped with meat, chicharon and (sometimes sliced liver and pork innards).
Tourists who wish to try this unassuming but delectable dish can drop by at Netong’s inside La Paz market or try Ted’s and Deco’s, which opened branches inside malls around the city.
3. Visit Miag-ao Church and other old churches
Evidence of the Spanish colonist can still be found across Iloilo as displayed by the bold and beautiful historic churches that can be found across the province. Most notable of which is the UNESCO heritage-listed Miag-ao Church built in 1787 by the Augustinian Friars to serve as a defensive tower against the marauding Moro invaders.
The majestic, elegant and massive facade of this church is surely a fulfillment to see with your own eyes.
Mystical Lagoon in Gigantes Sur, Carles Iloilo (photo by The Gigantes Experience FB)
4. Explore Islas de Gigantes
If you particularly love the sea, sun and sand, the Gigantes Group of Islands located Northeast of Panay Island is the place to go. It features a number of un-spoilt islands and islets, white beaches, hidden natural pools, and rich fishing grounds. It offers a perfect getaway for beach lovers and sun worshippers.
Street Party in Calle Real (photo by Calle Real FB)
5. Visit Calle Real at Night
Two years ago, the Iloilo City Cultural Heritage Conservation Council launched a revival project aimed at restoring and preserving some 40 heritage commercial buildings at Calle Real. As of writing, more than 10 heritage buildings have been or almost restored already.
To fully appreciate the grandeur of this place, schedule your visit at night when structures are fully lighted, or even better in the early morning when vehicles are still scarce and the buildings are lighted naturally.
Guimaras Island White Beach (photo by Guimaras Travel Guide FB)
6. It’s the jump off point to Guimaras Island
Iloilo is also a good jump off point for island hopping. Nature trippers and backpackers can jet off to Guimaras Island, producer of the best mangoes in the world and home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the region. From the Iloilo City wharf, the boat trip to Guimaras Island just takes 15-20 minutes and costs only P14 per person per trip.
Iloilo is definitely not far behind the other tourist destinations in the Philippines. And pretty sure, the friendly, gentle, sweet-speaking locals will have you coming back for more.