Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Guimaras/Iloilo Rush

We had only two days left for our island hopping challenge and we have two more places to visit, so we had to rush or our tour would be incomplete! From Bacolod City, Negros Occidental we took a ferry boat to Ortiz Wharf in Iloilo City.  Our next destination was Guimaras Island, but the ferry from Bacolod was bound for Iloilo, there is a direct ferry trip going to Guimaras in Port of Pulupundan in Bago City but unfortunately we didn't catch the earliest trip. We had no choice but to take the ferry going to Iloilo and from there take another ferry to Guimaras Island. Whew! Can you follow?

Well this is the Ortiz Wharf  in Iloilo where most of the ferries are Guimaras bound, travel time is less than 30 minutes. Well as you can see those clouds are getting heavier and we must leave before heavy rains dumps in the middle of the ocean...and it did! My arrival in Guimaras Island was very wet, it was overcrowded in Jordan Port, all were waiting for the rain to stop but we thought the rain would last long so we rented a vehicle going to the resort. It was late in the afternoon when we arrived at the resort and it was still raining heavily due to the storm, there was nothing we can do but to wait for the rain to stop. We were praying for a beautiful day on the next day. And yes it did!

Guimaras Island  is a small island province which is situated between the islands of Panay and Negros. Its capital is Jordan, the island is famous for its production of mangoes which is one of the sweetest mangoes in the world. The sky was clear on my first and last day in the island,  the water was calm, what a perfect day for island hopping and swimming! So we planned our tour, packed our things and hired a boat for our Guimaras meandering! I never thought that Guimaras Island was so blessed with beautiful landscape and sea, there are rock formations you'll come across in different shapes, if you will just let your imaginations run, you can find so many interesting figures with those rock formations. Can you figure some things in the photo above?

The boat passed by this private resort where we noticed a beach house which stands prominently on a huge coral. The house looks so charming and cozy, and I was excited when I learned that we were going to that place, good thing that boatman knows the caretaker of the private resort and so we went.

This private resort occupies a big area which has a 360 degree view of the nearby islands, the scenery in the balcony is a perfect place for relaxation. I would say it is a romantic venue for honeymooners and playground for nature lovers and artists. This private resort has several cottages where visitors could stay, a chapel, a well-landscaped garden and a wide space around where you can admire and enjoy nature. Unfortunately the owners of the resort had passed away leaving all their mementos in their small paradise.

Well this is just the esplanade of the resort, isn't that so charming? A place where you can sit under an umbrella, read some books, or meditate and commune with nature. Sigh. Honestly I was envious at the sight of this, but that wouldn't be possible because our backyard is commercially occupied so I'll just leave it to my imagination. Anyway, my stay in Guimaras Island even if it's just an overnight stay was very memorable, I may not have the chance to tour around the island and visit some of the interesting places but my fate in dropping by this beautiful resort will forever be remarkable, knowing that it holds a sentimental story. We went back to pack our things for our trip to Iloilo this time, and once again we were rushing for I have to meet some of my relatives in the province which is one of my reasons why I want to visit Iloilo.

The ferry boat from Guimaras Island to Iloilo port is only less than an hour so we were just on time to meet my niece in Iloilo who was waiting in the port to pick us up and eat lunch in the city. Iloilo Province is in the Western Visayas region and is bordered by the province of Antique and Capiz. The people in Iloilo are called Ilonggos and the spoke Hiligaynon. Town fiestas are celebrated and the most awaited event in the province and is often celebrated is the Dinagyang Festival. I haven't been to Iloilo and I never thought that I have relatives in the province, and I haven't met them really.  The rural village where my relatives lives are so simple yet charming. They live a simple life but their happy and contented with what they have. They grow vegetables in their backyard and raise hogs and chicken. They prepared and cooked dinner of grilled oysters and milkfish and it was the most delicious meal I had in Iloilo for the first time.

Another important reason for my Iloilo visit was to see the Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva in Miag-ao. I have been writing about the Baroque churches in the Philippines and I must pay visit to the church to take a photo and write something about it. Anyway, the church is an Aztec-Baroque architecture and was completed in 1797 and erected on the highest point of Miag-ao, the towers were built as post from Muslim raids during those times. The facade and color of the church is full of vigor and high in spirits with its extravagant carvings which shows the abundance of life as portrayed by St. Christopher dressed as Filipino farmer.

The coconut tree which is easily recognized on the facade and where St. Christopher hold onto, tells a story about a loving mother giving the tree to her children as the only bequest in order to sustain them for life. It is amazing to think and see how the story line of life during those times were gracefully carved on the facade of the church. Can you imagine?

It is so sad that I had a short stay in Iloilo and I have to leave soon. From what I know Iloilo Province has a lot to show in terms of natural resources, culture and traditions. And I must say that the cordinal and generous treatment of the Ilonggos is the most impressive of all and that I cannot forget. I will go back to Iloilo if time permits and I wish it would be soon. Thank you for reading.

How to get to Guimaras Island.
1. There is no direct flight to Guimaras Island, if you're coming from Manila take a flight to Iloilo. From Iloilo take a ride going to Ortiz Wharf. Take a pump boat going to Jordan Wharf and you're in Guimaras already!

2. If  you're coming from Bacolod City, Negros Occidental like we did we took a ferry boat going to Iloilo port and took a ride going to Ortiz Wharf in the city.  Take the pump boat going to Jordan Wharf.

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