>> Iloilo-Guimaras Blast << **July 19 – 21**

As this trip is fast approaching, my senses are feeling a little anxious-curious more than excited. I only knew a little about this places’ background, and it’s not one of the really famous tourist spots. I only know two facts though: that they’re part of the tiny triangular shape island which is Panay, and that mangoes are yummy in Guimaras.
But I guess that’s one of Jiving J’s purpose for travelling. To unravel wonders of places that other people may not know of yet.

Hello! Iloilo!

And so our journey began at around 12 noon as our plane landed at a surprisingly impressive Iloilo International Airport. It’s not that big but is definitely comparable to that of NAIA Terminal 3. With a very noticeable difference of its surroundings where there’s green everywhere, and some bonus cows too. Since we want to make sure we don’t overspend, we took a van instead of hailing a cab on our way to Ong Bun’s pension house. We don’t have a heavy baggage anyways especially that I’ve learned the art of travelling light. Or is it because John is the one carrying my bag? (the latter is more accurate I guess :p )

As soon as we unpack our things and have a good feel of our room, we wasted no time and headed on to accomplish our first mission.

~ La Paz Batchoy Quest ~

Yup, Iloilo is home to the country’s renowned La Paz Batchoy, and there’s 2 big names in this category. Ted’s and Deco’s. I already tried the Ted’s twice, one in BF Paranaque, and one in Festival Mall, but it didn’t please my taste buds in both occasions. So John and I decided to try Deco’s instead.

And we got no disappointments. Just the way we want it. We didn’t put any more seasoning, the taste is just right. The garnishing was sufficient. And the egg just blends with everything else so well. Not to mention the crunchy chicharon toppings. So perfect for the rainy weather that welcomed us. Happy tummy. :)

~ The Old and The New ~

After satisfying our craving, we started our city tour, which I’d like to describe as the merger of the old and the new. We explored Calle Real which is often referred to as “Iloilo’s Escolta”, for it houses Spanish and American era buildings that showcase Iloilo’s history.

This big old tree along the streets of Calle Real stands strong and tall. Stretching its branches all the way to the center as if drawing an arch across this historic streets. The Old Iloilo City Hall. (Then, a provincial Hall) A very nice Spanish architectural complex that was last restored in the 1980′s. The new Iloilo city hall. From the facade to the interior, it’s indeed a far cry from the old one. With the 15-foot tall Lin-ay statue which symbolizes an Ilongga woman. Iloilo’s own version of the “Lady of Freedom” in Washington, DC.

As if time-warped and feeling a little dorkish, we tried to dig deeper on Iloilo’s historical background as we visited the museum that houses ancient accessories and clothing, famous old churches in the city, and some important event that took place in the Queen City of the South. Too bad we can’t take pictures inside. +++

~ Travel Tandem ~

Meet Pat and Ces. Newly-engaged couple. Officemates and good friends of ours who also loves to travel. They are our tambay/drinking buddies too, and in this getaway, they’re our travel accomplices.

We met up with them just in time for dinner, straight from their flight. Oh yes, we’re as hungry as they are. We went to this famous dining spot, (as researched by John and as referred to us by the lady from the museum) to get our tummies filled before our night out.:)

Tatoy’s Manokan. House of delectable spring chicken and seafood in Villa Arevalo, Iloilo. Situated along the sides of Iloilo Strait. The resto has mini huts where diners stay to enjoy their sumptuous meal while relaxing to the sound of the waves. Oh heaven on earth!

~ The Night Life ~

The Smallville. Their own version of The Fort Strip where there’s bars and chill-out spots. Most of the bars though have live performers, the area’s battling with noise. We chose to stay in MO2 bar where it’s a little serene. Their playing Bossa the moment we arrived.

Guimaras: Touring while Pouring

Our second day’s unusually exciting. T’was raining cats and dogs when we woke up and all we ever pray for is just a hint of the sun sometime in the afternoon, for this is the day that we’ll supposedly go on an island tour. With our itinerary in place, we started the day with a 15-min cruise from Iloilo, using a “pambot” or “pumpboat”, to the Jordan Wharf in Guimaras. Despite the unceasing rain, we have a good feeling the day’s gonna be fun-filled.

~ Hark the Gerald ~

Friends, let me introduce to you our hero for the day, Kuya Gerald. I must say, our Guimaras tour wouldn’t have been as productive as it had been if not for him. Our driver, travel guide, photographer, instructor rolled in to one. John knew about him from a travel blog we visited while planning for this trip. Reaching him thru text that same morning was totally worth it.

For a guaranteed fun Guimaras trip,contact Kuya Gerald at 09084748122

Being one of the smallest provinces in the Philippines, everything else in Guimaras seem to be miniatured.

The Smallest Plaza, with a small monument of little boy, Pepe.

Heard it holds its place in the Guinness World Record already.

Nicey. :)

Surrounding the smallest plaza are small houses which has architectural designs like that of mansions. How cute. I think the Jiving J’s fit so perfectly well in here. :)

~ Oh! Shoot. ~

Have you ever worn jeans to party when everyone else’s adorned with their sequined gown? Oh well, that’s how I felt when we tried this next adventure courtesy of Kuya Gerald. While I’m wearing my island hopping-ready-swimwear-underneath-my-sundress attire, he took us to an outdoor firing range. Oh!shoot.

But who says posh girls can’t shoot? After some help from Kuya Gerald, my personal coach, John, and a few practice, I landed several bullets on the Alpha mark. Black Widow, Charlie’s Angels..better back off. :)

~ Pit Stop, not a “Fit” stop ~

If you’re on a strict diet, this place is not for you. For everything they serve here are just sinfully irresistible. We highly recommend the ultimate must-try Mango Pizza.

A mouth-watering goodness.

Melting mozzarella cheese, a generous serving of Guimaras mangoes, bell-pepper, crushed cashew nuts and creamy sauce lying over a thin crunchy crust. Without any exaggeration, it’s the BEST pizza I’ve had in my life so far. It’s taste, I still can vividly recall to memory. Like the feeling of a first love. There’s NO THIN like it. Oops. Apologies to my original fave pizza. :p

Definitely something hard to get enough of. We had a second round of this delectable delight that comes in rounds and squares, on our way back to Iloilo the following day. We also tried one of their inexplicably yummy delicacy.

Adobo Twist.  Also with Guimaras Mangoes.  Muy Bien.

~ Smiling through the Rain ~

And yes, the rain didn’t stop pouring as we go along our tour. Good thing we’re in the company of fun-loving, risk-taking people that even the rain didn’t hinder us to enjoy. Thanks to Kuya Gerald, who did for us photo shoots through the drizzles and bristles of this trip. He does it like a pro so all that’s left for us to do is..SMILE! :)

 By the Bell at the Trappist Monastery.
Kuya Gerald:  Sige lakad, tapos, biglang harap.Ok, ok, it's so Tabing-Ilog ish. haha

By the old Guisi Lighthouse.

The second oldest lighthouse in the Philippines. 
Built to guide ships passing thru the Guimaras Strait.
Pat and Ces by the ruins of an old Spanish settlement.
Oh! So perfect for their pre-nup shots. :)

The second tower.  
Just a few meters away from the original lighthouse.
Oh yes.  They're raindrops.

~ Dusk ~

John and I, lying on the sands right after the rain stops.
Too bad the sun's about to sleep too.

And the sun didn’t show up that day. Our originally planned island hopping didn’t push thru. But hey, we had loads and loads of fun with our impromptu trip. Plus we still have the next day.

~ Here Comes The Sun ~

Finally..the sun is smiling at the Raymen Beach. Perfect opportunity to go Island hopping before we head home!!! :) Unfortunately, we were only able to visit two islands becaue of the big waves. The Turtle Island. Pat and Ces holding the heavy sea turtle. I feel sad for him though. Seems like he’s the only turtle in this Turtle island. Oh no! Where could they have been? Gone racing with the hare? The Ave Maria Island. Oh! so Glorious. The sands are so pure and the water so cool and blue..

~ As we Brave the Waves ~

These smiles were shortly washed away.

On our way back to Raymen Beach Resort where we stayed for the night, our boatman was talking about something in Ilonggo that we can’t quite make out. We heard the word “Mabalon” (not even sure if we heard it right) which we associated to the word “alon” or waves. And I tell you, it was one of the most terrifying moments in my life. I’ve tried Wild River and Jungle Log Jam, no problem. But this one is different. There’s no safety seatbelts, anticipating no specific number of minutes that this thrilling ride will go on. All we have are life vests, each other, the small boat to hold on to, and the fear that these big and mighty waves will just throw us out of the boat and out in the sea. All I remember is me praying while two consecutive waves attack as if eating us up, and holding on tight, one hand to the sides of the boat and one hand to John’s arms, thinking when will this stop. I stared at John and he just smiled. I gazed at Pat and Ces and they seem to be enjoying the ride with a “Whoah” scream. At the back were our two boatmen who doesn’t seem to be bothered a bit either. What is wrong??? They all seem to be okay while I’m on the verge of crying, or did I cry already? Hah! Not until we disembarked the boat when I learned they all felt the same. Well prob’ly not as terrified as I am. Thanks for being strong for me guys.haha. And thank God You landed us safe and sound.

~ Bring Home the Mangoes ~

At the end of our every trips, we never forget to bring our families and friends a little something. Right after we left Raymen Beach Resort, we went straight to the Pasalubong Centers and side streets to grab some of the Province’s specialties.

So long Raymen!!! :)
Bringing Home Guimaras’ Finest. The sweetest mangoes our country exports. The only variety that is served at the White house. World Class :)

More and more pasalubongs!!! Mango Butterscotch, Mango Piyaya, Mango Jam, Mango Barquillos, and everything mango. Even Mango ketchup?! Omigosh.

~ Thumbs Up! ~

Amidst the weather, the waves, and the most unexpected events, the Jiving J’s with Ces and Pat experienced a one of a kind getaway that is worth sharing and worth reminiscing. Thanks lovely couple for the laughs, the kulitans and the singsong trip (The Lion Sleeps Tonight w/ voicing, over some bottles of beer and Empoy. haha)

***The J’s Corner***

What’s your most unforgettable part of the trip?

Mr. J says:

I would like to share 2 things from this trip. First would be my unforgettable moment in this trip and the second would be my favorite thing.
Although the whole trip in itself is memorable (of course, because this is our first time in Iloilo and Guimaras and the first out of town double date adventure with our close friends John Pat and Frances), the most unforgettable moment is when we went island hopping to Turtle Island and Ave Maria Island in Guimaras. On our way back, we encountered big waves (around 1.5m) swallowing the front half of the boat (Joyce and I are in front) around 6 times in about 2 minutes. This is when Joyce’s digicam and cellphone got wet and eventually became out of commission. Being a self proclaimed “anak ng dagat” since I was a kid, this is my first “buwis buhay” experience at sea, hence unforgettable.
My favorite thing in this adventure is the food trip. I will discuss it in order of my most favorite and then the least. The best is the Mango Pizza in Guimaras, we ate it 2 days in a row. Alam na! 2nd is Adobo with a twist in Guimaras (chicken adobo with mango bits), yum! Then Roberto’s Siopao in Iloilo, one of the best Siopaos I’ve tasted in my lifetime. Tatoy’s Manokan dinner in Iloilo, I love the baked oyster. The food at Raymen’s canteen in Guimaras, It reminds me of my Inang’s home cooked meal. And of course you haven’t been to Iloilo if you wouldn’t try their La Paz Batchoy (Deco’s), sooo authentic. Burp! Excuse me.

Ms. J Says:

My unforgettable/favorite part is the Guimaras tour when we did the firing and the photo shoots with Kuya Gerald. It’s such an enjoyable experience that we’re all soaking wet ’cause of the rain but not a single soul is complaining. It’s like we’re all kids again, playing in the rain when we know we’re not supposed to. One of the best things in life that we don’t get to do everyday, or we’ll get sick. :p

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