Living the life of someone who works in the hospitality industry and not to mention being in the Public Relations and Marketing field awaits exciting opportunities. It may be an unplanned travel invitation, hotel and restaurant hopping, food explorations, meeting people in different walks of life, events invitations or attending travel fairs are just some of the perks we are thankful for.
Our hotel got an invitation from the Department of Tourism Region III to join for a Business Tourism Exchange which they gave us two destination options. Without battling an eye, I go for Iloilo. The trip was sponsored by Air Asia Philippines as they launched Clark-Iloilo flight. We fly from Clark International Airport and it was actually my first time flying from Clark though I lived in Pampanga more than a decade already. It was an hour and 15 minutes night flight.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by DOT Region VI Representatives (special thanks to Ms. Ping for being one of our gracious hosts) and with the alluring performances of Iloilo’s pride “Dinagyang” dancers. I knew there and then that I made the right choice.
Joining the trip were Travel Agency operators from Bulacan, Bataan, Pampanga, Tarlac and DOT III Representatives, it was a great chance to bond and meet the other players of the industry in a much lighter setting.
I spent most of my time with the Air Asia Sales Team whom I met new set of friends with kindred spirits and made my Iloilo experience exceptionally fun. We didn’t wasted any moment, in fact upon arrival atThe Mansion Hotel, we immediately spent late night (s) at the Smallville (the city’s night life district) looking for local delicacies. It was such a tiring yet wonderful night spent with great friends, soooo delicious oysters plus a bucket of beer. The whole district closes at 2:00 a.m. and it was so comforting to be a stranger in an unfamiliar place where police visibility is 24/7 in every corner. Two nice policemen were even there patiently waiting for us to finish the last drop of beer (wish to have those great cops in Manila).
On the first day, immediately after breakfast we were picked up by a shuttle bus courtesy of Southwest Travel and Tours . We explored the whole day at Guimaras. To reach the island, we took a 15-minute scenic boat ride from Ortiz Wharf going to Jordan Wharf. The running tour was a great experience, passing the Jordan Municipal Hall, Roman Catholic Church of Jordan, Smallest Plaza, GSC Mosqueda Campus, Jordan Food Terminal Market and Provincial Capitol of Guimaras.
First stop was at the Trappist Monastery, the first men’s monasteryin the Philippines established in 1972. The solemn and sacred enclave is run by monks of the Cistercian Order of Strict, Observance. They produce local souvenirs and food items available for sale.
Then, we headed to the breath-taking San Lorenzo Wind Farm, it has 27 wind turbines that stand approximately about 124 meters tall. I never thought they have this beauty as all I know is the Bangui Windmills in Ilocos Province.
After taking tons of photos we headed to Guimaras Mountain Resort for a sumptuous lunch. Our plan to go for an island hopping was cancelled due to the weather condition. Instead, we had a quick stop at the newest and stunning resort in Guimaras, named Andana Resort. It has luxury rooms and an infinity pool overlooking a mesmerizing scenery.
Second day’s tour highlight was church hopping. An old soul me always find old churches fascinating and Iloilo is lucky enough to have equally beautiful century-old churches. We had a quick look at the Parish of St. Anne, a Gothic church built in 1831. They say you should pray at the Parish of St. Anne if you want to find your life partner.
So, how about walking on this aisle with that “someone” I prayed for? Photo: Manuel Chua
Another Iloilo’s pride is the The Church of Saint Thomas of Villanova, commonly known as the Miagao Church completed in 1797. What I adore so much of the church is the finely detailed sculptural relief carved on its facade with huge watch tower belfries on each side. It became my most favorite among the fourBaroque Churches in the Philippines. The church was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on December 11, 1993. People during the Spanish era were required to bring one yellow sand stone and one egg within a week in exchange of one bread. If they failed to bring, they will be whipped for 25 times or render service equivalent to one week.
Since it seems to be a religious day, we all deserve to enter heaven! Kidding aside, Garin Farm is a heaven on earth. It was a real challenge to climb 456 steps going up to the Divine Mercy Cross. While doing the Pilgrimage, statues are displayed along the way depicting the story of of Jesus from creation to ascension.
I wish there were visiting hours in heaven
Photo: Manuel Chua
One can’t never get enough with Iloilo. Third day was the last but probably not the least of all the itineraries. After our B2B session at The Mansion Hotel, we had a tour around Jaro District passing through Museo Iloilo, La Paz Market, Millionaires’ Row, Tinukib Showroom at Casa Gamboa,Jaro Cathedral, El 98 Street, Iloilo Business Park and the romantic Iloilo Esplanade.
One of Iloilo‘s wonder is the 81-year old architectural marvel known as the Lizares Mansion which was built in 1937. It has spiral wooden staircase and consists of 59 windows.
Photo: Manuel Chua
channeling Anna Scott of Notting Hill 🙂
What makes Iloilo even more fascinating are the sweet, soft-spoken and kind citizens. It wasn’t called the “city of love” for nothing. Kudos to Sir Roy Gatpatan for great sense of humor and reputable knowledge about the destinations. You’re one of the best tour guide I’ve ever met!
To cap off our memorable trip, take a look at this video. Once again, thank you DOT III, DOT VI and Air Asia for the opportunity. I will definitely come back!