It was my first time to travel alone. And I traveled without any itinerary to follow. When I boarded the Ceres bus from Kalibo, Aklan going to Iloilo, I prepared myself to be surprised. And the next two days turned out to be amazing.
DECEMBER 27, 2014. I left Kalibo at 8am and reached Tagbak Terminal in Iloilo City around 1230pm. The more-than-four-hour trip included a stop-over in Batan, Aklan and in Passi, Iloilo. From Tagbak Terminal, I rode a taxi (yes, they have taxis in Iloilo City, and the drivers are polite) and asked the driver to bring me to a hotel near SM City Iloilo where I could check in. I wanted to locate near SM City Iloilo so that whenever I wanted to reconnect with something “familiar”, I could just go to the mall and visit National Bookstore, hahaha!
The driver suggested that I look for a hotel within the Smallville area. Smallville is a busy spot at night, with a vibe comparable to Timog or Eastwood, but smaller in size. I checked in at Iloilo Business Hotel for a night priced at Php 2,250/night, inclusive of a buffet breakfast. A bit pricey, indeed. But I was paying for comfort. (For a first timer, this would be fine, but next time I’ll find cheaper accommodations! Hahaha!)
|Facade of Iloilo Business Hotel, my home for a day.|
|The view from Room 705|
I freshened up and went out of the hotel. The guard told me that I could start my tour at the Esplanade, which is just a walking distance of the hotel. Along Esplanade is a strip of restaurants where I had my lunch at Ramboy’s. I was able to ask a fellow UP alumnus from whom I asked my possible itinerary for the day. I followed his instructions. (My UP connection helped me this time, huh!)
Esplanade is a landscaped park along Iloilo riverbanks, designed for people who love to stroll, jog, walk their pets, or just enjoy the view of the clean river. There are restaurants housed in modern structures. And for health buff, Zumba classes are held on scheduled dates ( I just learned from the announcement boards, hahaha!). I truly enjoyed promenading along this path while being kissed by the cool afternoon breeze!
Just a short walk from the end of the Esplanade is Molo Church. Outside the church, within the beautifully-lit park, stood the statues of Greek Goddesses. A mass was being held when I visited and from where I stood (outside the church), I saw the glistening interior design of the church’s altar. Truly impressive!
|Molo Church and the statues of Greek goddesses|
I rode a jeepney going to UP Visayas and was able to take photos inside. It was creepy, but then, it’s UP. I felt at home.
|UP-Visayas corridor. Isn't it creepy?|
|Of course, The Oblation.|
From UP-Visayas, I rode a jeepney going to Jaro Plaza. There I saw the old Jaro Belfry opposite the Candelaria Church. According to stories, Candelaria Church is where you could find the miraculous candle that grows overtime.
|The Jaro Belfry at night|
|The famous Candelaria Church|
I also went to the Archbishop’s Palace nearby. I wasn’t able to enter the Jaro Plaza itself but vendors of fireworks were already surrounding the Plaza.
|The Archbishop's Palace in Jaro, Iloilo City|
SM City Iloilo and Plazuela
I rode a taxi from Jaro Plaza to SM City Iloilo (but jeepneys were also available). I entered SM and yes – the feel of SM in Manila was the same there in Iloilo, but with fewer shoppers (compared, of course to Megamall and North EDSA). I walked to the nearby Plazuela. It's a cozy space with dining places and a vast area for events and concerts.
|The lovely Plazuela, just beside SM City Iloilo is a place for foodies!|
The streets of Iloilo
So I continued with my solo exploration. I rode a taxi and did my observation from there. I saw a lot of old structures being renovated. There’s really a potential for the place to be a destination. They (I mean the local government) could just arrange for possible city tour itinerary. I alighted at the Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arc (similar to one found in Binondo, Manila) and strolled the streets. I loved the place; it's very clean! I also felt secure while walking. I was not at home, but I was at home.
|An example of old structure that was renovated. They have lots of these in Iloilo.|
|The Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arc|
|Ooopsss, before I forget, here's Iloilo's version of "jeepney"!|
I returned to Smallville at around 12 midnight. As mentioned, it was the time when the area’s alive. Good thing, the noise could not be heard from my hotel room. Thus, I could have a good night sleep.
|Comfort, indeed, has its price!|