The comfort of a bed, the salivating noodle soup, the fresh seafood, and a great take home gift completed my trip in Iloilo. Besides, a trip to a new place will not be complete unless you get to have a taste of their specialty, their warm reception and bringing home a great memorabilia of the trip like a local product innate to the city or town. The following places and products really stood out during my visit to the city that I feel that it is worth mentioning in the concluding blog of my Iloilo trip.
Sleepy Head: People's Hotel
People's Hotel is just one of the many hotels in the city. Located along Fuentes and Delgado Street, the hotel is just a few blocks away from SM Delgado and is accessible to public transport making it ideal for travellers visiting the city. Most taxi drivers in the city are familiar with the hotel.
The standard room that I checked in was clean and they offer all the basic amenities like toiletries, towels, and hot and cold showers. The room's interior was modern and it was really value for money considering that I got the room for less than a thousand. It is ideal for those who want to get a luxurious accommodation without spending too much.
The only setback was that the staff was not that accommodating. The hotel can really focus on improving their customer service - even just on the basics. There were some who would answer your queries but they do not go beyond the extra mile. There was even a time where the security guard had to attend to my query since all receptionists were not at the front desk. If management can work on tweaking their customer service then it would really be one of the best hotels in the city.
Getting in touch: People’s Hotel is located at Delgado corner Fuentes Streets, Iloilo City and you may reach them at (033) 5086111.
Soup-ah Dish: Deco's La Paz Batchoy
After checking in at the hotel, I decided to cross out the first thing on my Iloilo to do list - eat batchoy. It was a great to find a Deco's Restaurant at the lobby of the People's Hotel.
Iloilo has always been associated with the La Paz Batchoy - a noodle soup from meat stock and flavored with local herbs and spices. It is one of the famous dishes of the city. It is said that the first batchoy was served in La Paz Market by the restaurant founder, Federico Guillergan, Sr. from where the name Deco was derived.
Nothing really beats an authentic batchoy straight from where it originated. The soup, which consists of noodles in meat broth and garnished with pork innards, beef, and pork cracklings, is a surefire delight to one's palate. It is a definite must eat when you are in Iloilo City and it will surely make you want more so forget about your diet.
Getting there: You can find a Deco’s La Paz Batchoy restaurant at the first floor of People’s Hotel.
Seafood Delight: Breakthrough Seafood Restaurant
Between the two famous restaurants that I tried in Villa Beach, Breakthrough Seafood Restaurant really stood out for me as one of the restaurants that you should not miss when you are in Iloilo City. The restaurant offer a wide array of dishes “turo-turo” style but it is well known for its fresh seafood dishes.
The place is a huge restaurant located by the beach which makes it more conducive to enjoying your meal. The fresh air and the lively staff add up to the ambiance of the place. It is ideal for a gathering of family or friends over a shared meal.
I ordered two of my favourites – steamed “sugpo” (large shrimps) and “dinuguan”, a pork viand with innards and boiled in chili, vinegar, and pig’s blood, for dinner. Their servings are good for two individuals and, being alone on this trip, meant it was another cheat day for me. But I didn’t mind having to finish the two viands as it was all worth it. Needless to say, I went back to the hotel satisfied and with a very full tummy.
Getting there: I opted to take the cab to the restaurant since I was travelling early evening. Most cab drivers are familiar with the place. Fare price is about Php120 one way.
Sinamay: A Textile to Remember
I would consider the Sinamay as the best souvenir to bring home from Iloilo since the fabric is strongly associated with the province. Prior to the sugar industry boom in the region, Iloilo was known as the textile centre of the country in the 19th century. However with the introduction of sugar production, most businessmen opted to go into a faster moving product in the market leaving the handling of the textile industry to a select few.
One of the remaining industry movers of the Sinamay industry is the Arevalo Sinamay House. The house is located along the main highway in Arevalo, right beside the Sto. Nino de Arevalo Parish. The owners were able to preserve the art of making Sinamay and a visit to the Arevalo Sinamay House will give you a glimpse of how the textile industry once flourished in the region. It is also a place where you can purchase Sinamay - a great souvenir from Iloilo.
The Arevalo Sinamay House serves as an exhibit house of old weaving looms and the many products of the sinamay fabric. If you are lucky enough, you might get the chance to meet the owners of the house who would gladly share their story as they show you the wide array of products that you can choose from - from sinamay fabric to finished products like table runners, placemats, shawl, and even barongs. It is a good buy and one shouldn't leave Iloilo City without one.
Getting there: One can take a cab to the Sinamay House, just tell the cab driver to go to the Sto. Nino de Arevalo Parish as the house is located right across the church along the national highway.
See You Soon: Iloilo Airport
Checking in at the Iloilo Airport, I secretly wished that all our local airports would be rehabilitated like the Iloilo Airport and Silay Airport in Negros. The airport looked very refreshing with its high ceilings and glass panels that allow natural lighting inside the terminal. The enthusiastic tourism staff also gave the airport a very accomodating feel. It was a very good impression to a first time visitor to Iloilo like me.
The first floor houses the arrival and departure check in areas for passengers and the second floor houses the departure area for outgoing passengers. The airport has two air bridges and the waiting area for departing passengers was organized that one can just sit down and relax while they wait for their boarding call. I even gave one of the airport staff a complement saying that Iloilo Airport looked and had the feel of an international airport.
My Iloilo and Guimaras trip had a lot of "ifs"... if only I had more time, if only I focused just on Iloilo city and have a separate trip to Guimaras, and if only I had done more research. But the truth is all these "ifs" are out of my window. I liked the unpredictability of my trip - not knowing what to do next allowed me the flexibility to change things around. It allowed me to plan at the moment which, from my previous trips, I have difficulty doing once I have a plan in place.
Iloilo was a tough adventure because of the unpredictability but I loved the romance with Iloilo's history and the sanctuary offered by Guimaras. Unlike my previous trips where I board my plane back to Manila feeling accomplished that I have seen all, this trip to Iloilo and Guimaras left me with the feeling of wanting to comeback as I still have an unfinished business with Iloilo.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.