Maybe not everyone will understand how much excitement I had with me when the plane touched down in Bacolod City and that we were finally on our way to Iloilo and Guimaras. Both provinces hold a special place in my heart because I hold so many memories from these places when I first visited. I love Iloilo and Guimaras and I don’t know how to even stress that out.
We went straight to Bredco Port to catch the first ferry going to Iloilo upon arriving in Bacolod City. Since it was still minutes before sunrise, it only took about 20 minutes from Silay to the Port. We failed to catch the first ferry out via 2Go so we took Weesam Express at 6:30 AM. It cost us Php 585 for a round trip ride, fair enough for an hour trip on an air-conditioned fast craft. We reached Muelle Loney Port in Iloilo City around 7:30, and we were surprisingly greeted by a lot of ‘porters’ who were very eager to take us to the La Paz Market. I admit I wasn’t well researched that is why it took a couple of minutes before we knew where to ride the jeepney going to the market. But all is well. The ride cost us Php 8, and we were finally in La Paz Market.
While I wasn’t well researched in the how-to-get-there area, I was kind of well researched in the where-to-eat-in-La Paz-Market area. For breakfast, we looked for Netong’s Original La Paz Batchoy inside the market, and ohh-la-la, they have really really awesome batchoy! My first taste of batchoy back then was at Ted’s. I couldn’t understand the hype because what I tasted was just normal, but batchoy at Netong’s was different. It was love at first bite. It was really authentic and so delicious! Namit!
Based on travel blogs that I read, you also can’t miss not having coffee at Madge Café, also inside the La Paz Public Market. True enough, they have the best coffee I’ve tasted, home grown and truly an Iloilo Original. We could tell from the filled up tables that they have good coffee! Perfect for the sleepless night we just had.
Also according to a travel blogs, Madge Café is the oldest family-run coffee shop in Iloilo, already more than 50 years old. So that explains the number of patrons they have! When we arrived though, there weren’t enough chairs for us, but the owner gladly accommodated us, making sure that we were comfortably seated. We were finally experiencing the Ilonggo lambing that we were looking for. We also met Vice-Mayor Jose Espinosa III while having coffee, and we were really ‘cool’ enough to have a group picture taken with him.
After having the best batchoy and best coffee, we were on our way to Ortiz Wharf for Guimaras. Because we didn’t know how to get there, the friendly owners of Madge Café accompanied us to the main road, helping us by talking to the driver that we were getting down Ortiz Wharf. So much kindness.
We were at the Ortiz Wharf at around 10:30 AM, we got ourselves tickets to the pump boat which would take us to the Jordan Wharf in Guimaras. The ticket cost Php 11.20, really cheap for a ride that took ten (10) minutes. When we got there, we went straight to the tourist information center to help us get to Nueva Valencia. The eight of us hired a multi-cab for Php 1,500 and it would take us to the Pasalubong Center, Trappist Abbey, Guisi Lighthouse and Alubihod Beach.
From the wharf, it took an hour for us to get to Guisi Lighthouse, where you could see the vast sea fronting Guimaras. The Guisi Lighthouse is an 18th Century Spanish colonial lighthouse situated in Guisi. It’s a 10-minute trek going up but you will be rewarded with a beautiful view. Worth it. We didn’t get to go on top of the lighthouse itself though because it spells tetano all over, but hey, this view? Solve!
From the Guisi Lighthouse, we went straight to Raymen Beach Resort in Nueva Valencia to squeeze in an hour of island hopping. Alubihod Beach is the start off point of island-hopping adventures in Guimaras. For us, we only got to visit the Ave Maria Islet and the Baras Cave, but it was still worth it. We got to meet two pawikans in Ave Maria Islet, while my friends got to kill jelly fishes in Baras Cave. Haha! Unique. After island hopping, Sir Onyok treated us to a really yummy lunch that spelled allergies for me – shrimp, squid, fish and liempo. Sarap!
Because we were pressed for time, we were on our way to Jordan Wharf by 3:00 PM so that we won’t rush to catch the last ferry out of Iloilo to Bacolod at 4:45 PM. Thank goodness that we were just in time. We were all asleep on our way back to Bacolod. I’d like to think that although it was only just a brief visit, it was still fun and reminiscent of the wonderful memories I had back then. Only this time, it was different.
I will forever be in love with Iloilo and Guimaras because this was where magic happened for me. I will forever be thankful.
*Some photos were from my friend, Paul.