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When in IloIlo | A Travel Diary

Last September 24-28, I went to the City of Love - IloIlo.

For the first time in my life, I got to travel for work. Isn’t that amazing? I honestly remember how I used to pray for the things that I have now. All glory to God who is mighty. 

I accompanied our Promo and Events Associate for a  booth set up since in the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines or CEAP’s National Convention 2019. 

IloIlo is a province located in the region of Western Visayas in the Philippines. It is part of the Visayan Island of Panay which comprises of Antique, Capiz and Guimaras as well. The City of IloIlo quickly become a tourist hub over time. I believe the main reason is how rich heritage the province is and how it was able to adapt to the change of time.

Anyway, I am excited to finally share how I spent five days in the City of Smiles.


Day 1 | Hello, IloIlo!

It was a Tuesday morning when I arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport for our flight to IloIlo. 

For this working vacation, we will be spending the first four days in a IloIlo Convention Center (ICC) and man the booth. The only free time we have to roam around the city will be Friday afternoon as soon as we’re done with the egress and Saturday morning before our flight back home. 

It was my first time being in Terminal 2. For the flights I’ve taken last year from Samar, South Korea, Palawan, and Malaysia, I was always in Terminal 3 and/or Terminal 4. 

Anyhow, we arrived almost two hours early for our flight and it was really packed with people going to the same destination. I remember the announcement that our flight number is actually overbooked. But it hadn't dawned on me when I was told my seat will be in the emergency exit rows.

Thankfully, I brought a great book for the trip which put my mind off the fact that I was seated in the exit row. I am now starting on the Harry Potter series - way to go on my 30 before 30 Bucket List. 

After an hour and a half, we were at IloIlo International Airport.

Day 2 and 3 | CEAP National Convention 2019

The next two days of the whole IloIlo trip was spent in IloIlo Convention Center where the CEAP National Convention 2019 is happening. 

ICC is beautiful from inside and out. It has two floors where the main program happens in the ground floor and the booth set up of the sponsors is on the second floor. 

It was my first time to man a booth but I guess I was actually meant for the job. It made me happy handing out flyers, exchanging information about our products and services, and just talking to the visitors. 

The only problem I guess was the lack of caffeine. The 7-Eleven near the ICC doesn’t sell Coffee Blends and/or Kopiko 78 degrees - two of my faves. But I survived the first two days, anyways. Hooray!

We arrive in ICC at 7am and go home to the hotel at 7pm. There really is no way we can visit places even nearby. 

IloIlo Convention Center is located in Megaworld IloIlo, a street which resembles so much of BGC or Makati. Among the places you can find in Megaworld IloIlo aside from ICC, are Festive Walk Mall and Casa de Emperador IloIlo. We were told that the area used to be the airport but it was moved. 


Day 4 | Last Day of CEAP National Convention 2019

The last day of the convention was fun because we only need to stay until 12nn in the venue. We spent two hours for the egress and went back to the hotel where we were staying, Madison Hotel IloIlo
As soon as we got to the hotel, Mia and I decided to go to nearby places we can visit just to get the most of our IloIlo trip. 

Museo IloIlo was located in IloIlo Proper. We got there simply by riding the tricycle from Madison Hotel. The outside of the museum was a worthy Instagram photo background with the striking color combinations. Inside you will find a collection of IloIlo’s cultural heritage which includes native pottery, burial sites, war mementos, statues and a room filled with modern day painting. 

One of the fondest artifacts I saw inside Museo IloIlo were the Mickey Mouse Money, Japanese-government issued currency in several denominations used during World War II. I only see those in pictures so I was so amazed. Although I am really happy finding and supporting the museum, it wasn't what I expected it to be. We did pay Php 50 for the entrance in Museo IloIlo. 

Netong’s Original La Paz Batchoy. After our stay in Museo IloIlo we went to La Paz Public Market and had a taste of La Paz Batchoy from Netong’s. According to my research, Netong’s is the most original/authentic la paz batchoy taste. It is true though, I really enjoyed the meal we had at Netong’s Price starts at Php 110, busog ka na

Jaro Cathedral  is one of the well-known churches in IloIlo. What’s unique about the place is that its Bell Tower is across the street instead of beside the church.⁣ Jaro Cathedral was formerly  known as Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral. The Cathedral is the second national shrine in the Visayas and Mindanao, the first being the Basilica del Santo Niño in Cebu.

Original Biscocho Haus. Just a walk away from Jaro Cathedral was the Original Biscocho Haus, a famous spot when it comes to pasalubong. We needed to be at the  airport early the next day, so we decided to buy our pasalubong beforehand. Coming to the Original Biscocho Haus was such a good idea because you buy literally everything in there. I spent roughly Php 700 for pasalubongs good for family and friends. 

Day 5 | Bye, IloIlo

My plan was to actually spend the morning at the Garin Farm Pilgrimage Resort. 

Mia didn’t want to come with me and would rather stay at the hotel to rest. But, after reading more about the place I realized it is more worthy to come there accompanied by someone. Not only is the place an hour and a half away from where we were staying, you also have to pay for the tricycle ride going to the “Stairway to Heaven,”

So at the last minute, I ditch the idea and instead researched on other places to go that are still nearby.

Calle Real IloIlo is the historic street located in the old downtown district IloIlo Proper. Now known as JM Basa St., Calle Real is referred to as the Escolta of IloIlo which houses a lot of historical buildings that resembles that of the Spanish Era. 

Roberto’s Queen Siopao. Just a few blocks away from Calle Real is Roberto’s Queen Siopao, home of the meatiest siopao I’ve ever tasted. Ito lang ata yung siopao na walang sauce pero willing akong ubusin. It was so sulit and delicious. Their place was filled with people as early as 8am. 

Camiña Balay nga Bato is another museum in IloIlo you can go to if you want a quick trip down memory lane. It was the ancestral home of the Camiña-Avecaña Family. The entrance fee is Php 150 which includes the guided tour and a cup of tsokolate and biscuits right after. 

The tour starts with a short video of Camiña Balay nga Bato, its history, as told by no other than the fourth generator owner of the house. After the video, a guide will start with a tour of the house sharing bits and pieces of information about the ancestral home. 

Camiña-Avecaña Family were considered as Ilustrados or the Filipino middle class during the Spanish era. You can tell by how the house was designed and built that the owners have money to spend. 

From the grand piano at the ground to the grand staircase made steep to protect the house from thieves. In the second floor you will find the oratorio or the family prayer area which holds images and statues of saints. There’s also the main living room and of course the dining area. 

The tour ends with a cup of tsokolate and biscuits. 

Molo Cathedral. Another great church to visit when in IloIlo is the Molo Cathedral which is known as the feminish church church because of the all-women saints found in the pillars of the church. Molo Cathedral can be found beside the Molo Plaza which is the central landmark in Molo District. 

Molo Mansion. Last place I visited before I went back to the hotel and do some packing was the Molo Mansion. The exterior of the place was actually good. It was a real mansion complete with fountain, a vast backyard and garden area. I thought I can roam around the house but it turned out it was bought by SM and the ground floor is now a Kultura Shop. 


Some Notes from my IloIlo Trip

  • It’s really true, Ilonggos are really the malalambing (lovable and gentle) ones, especially when they talk or explain things. And they always smile. 
  • Once we rode a jeepney wherein the jeepney driver asked us to speak Ilonggo since we are in IloIlo. He said that whenever he goes to Manila, he also adopts to the Tagalog language. 
  • A fun fact - Camiña Balay nga Bato is also the ancestral home to President Rodrigo Duterte’s second wife, Honeylet Avecaña. You will see a photo of the First Lady when you visit the place. 
  • Grab Car doesn’t work in IloIlo. They only have Grab Taxi which I find surprising at first. What’s good though is that all taxis we rode were really nice. 
  • All the places mentioned above are adjacent to each other. I suggest commuting instead of renting a cab.

Thank you IloIlo for such a warm welcome. I had a great time.

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