Iloilo is strategically located at the heart of the Philippines – a fact which makes it easy for this premier province to be looked up to as the regional capital of Western Visayas. Yes, just a relatively short trip, and you will be magically transported to a unique environment, a fantastic destination of alluring sights.
Of this destination, the provincial leadership of Gov. Arthur Defensor says it all: “Smiling faces, festivals filled with laughter and songs, scenic settings. Iloilo fits the picture. There will definitely never be a dull moment in Iloilo. Many who visit over and over again, and who have definitely fallen in love with the place would attest to charm, beauty and magnetism of Iloilo.”
“Laze the days away on its dazzling beaches of dreamy blue shores. Watch the world go by in friendly rural villages. Try your hand at thrilling adventure travel and sport to terrific shopping. This unique combination is a clear guarantee of an unforgettable journey. Whatever you want to do, you will be able to do it in Iloilo.”
As a result of the Philippine Business Mission (PBM) trip to Japan, Tourism Regional Director Helen Catalbas said they are now working out some direct flights between Japan and the region among many other initiatives being considered to promote Iloilo and the rest of its neighboring provinces.
Catalbas also noted that the region’s tourist arrivals recorded an upward trend because of direct flights to Singapore and Hongkong via the Iloilo International Airport.
Iloilo is also known for its iconic heritage sites, old buildings and churches, which are reminders of its rich history, culture, and affluence. Its towns enable visitors a glimpse of a rich history and tradition as well as culture and the country’s best festivals.
This mystique province is popular for Kasadyahan that falls on the 4th Saturday of January of each year, an incredible opportunity to sample Ilonggo celebrations by way of bringing the culture of the towns out into the city streets. Iloilo City’s Dinagyang Festival draws thousands of tourists every year.
More than anything else, tour operators believe Iloilo is an area of incredible natural beauty because it is blessed with unspoiled paradise island and white sand beaches. No wonder, it remains a sight that any romantic poet or artist would readily translate on paper or canvass. Most beaches in rural Iloilo are ideal places to break your journey.
The food will make your visit to Iloilo a memorable experience. Stimulate and liven up your senses by chowing down the steaming broth of La Paz batchoy, a noodle soup.
Take home antiques, handicrafts, and art pieces. Some of the finest sinamay and jusi (banana fiber) and piña (pineapple fiber) embroidery are found in Iloilo at reasonable prices.
Iloilo City, the province’s capital, is home to decades-old architectural wonders which still stand against the test of time. Bring your feet down Calle Real de Iloilo, Fort San Pedro, Iloilo Riverside Boulevard, Jaro Cathedral, Lizares Mansion and the Angelicum School, Molo Church, Muelle Loney or the Iloilo’s River Wharf and Museo Iloilo.
What I did in Iloilo
The Explore Iloilo website recommends five geographical areas in Iloilo that are worth your time and money. These are Southern Iloilo, West Central Iloilo, East Central Iloilo, South Central Iloilo and Northern Iloilo. On different occasions and travels, I did explore the province but it’s so attractive it will keep you coming back.
The coastal towns of Southern Iloilo are characterized by long stretches of grey sand beaches while the interior towns are dominated by hilly to mountainous terrain. We dropped by SEAFDEC or the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center in Tigbauan. The province takes pride for its Guimbal Church, one of the country’s oldest and Miagao Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Be enthralled by the uniqueness of San Joaquin Cemetery and the militaristic motif of San Joaquin Church as well as the mystery of the Roman Catholic Church of Tigbauan.
West Central Iloilo
West Central Iloilo enjoys its predominantly agro-industrial economy. The towns offer various kinds of attractions from centuries-old churches, recreational centers, to waterfalls and a mountain lake. This destination is still on my list though I have slept for one week in Santa Barbara, home to a historic landmark – the Santa Barbara Church. This church is recognized as the Cradle of the Ilonggo resistance against the imperial rule of the Spaniards.
On My Wish List
On my wish list are the tourist attractions in East Central Iloilo, South Central Iloilo and Northern Iloilo.
Now, it’s high time for you to experience the value of a real vacation. Discover Iloilo. Travel in style for paradise awaits you. Enjoy your worry-free flight from Manila to Iloilo via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines.
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THE BLOGGER. Ulysses Espartero is a journalist, historian and book author who traces his roots from two Philippine jewels – Laguna and Antique. While in Dubai, he enjoyed his expat life documenting the struggles and victories of migrant workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council states. In 2014, he released Precious Gems in a Desert of Gold, the first and only coffee table book about Filipino achievers in the United Arab Emirates. Connect with him on facebook.