Monday, August 27, 2007

Guimaras: Island-hop to Guimaras

For our last day in Iloilo, we decided to visit the island province next door, Guimaras.

We were at the Ortiz Port near Ateneo de Iloilo at about 9 a.m. and from there, we took a 15-minute pump boat to Jordan for PHP11. We had arranged for a minicab to take us around for PHP1000 (they have rates at the tourism office at the port based on distance) since you need to have your own vehicles to check out the sights.

Our first stop was the OLP Trappist Monastery in Jordan where one could buy various products, mostly made from mangoes, such as jam, yema, candies, tarts, bars, piaya, and many more. We then proceeded to Alubihod Beach in Nueva Valencia for a swim in the waters of Guimaras. Don't worry about the oil spill since it's in a different part of the island.

After an hour of swimming, we were off to the Navalas Church in Buenavista, the oldest Church in the island. Although the facade is perfectly preserved, the other parts are totally gone (walls and interior) as a result of renovations by several priests (as always). Why can't they just preserve these old churches, especially since this seemed to be the only one in Guimaras.

Nearby is the Roca Encantada Heritage House owned by the Lopez Family. We were lucky enough to be given permission to enter the premises. From afar, I thought it was a modern vacation house until I saw the marker. I could not understand how this modernized house got the seal of approval of the National Historical Institute for Heritage House. There are fewer traces of the original features of the house. With all their wealth, I hope the Lopezes restore even just the exterior of the house back to the way it looked before so that it lives up to the prestige of the NHI marker. I also hope they install the marker in a better way since it was just attached to a piece of wood. Markers like these should be screwed to a hard surface like a wall.

But the setting of the house was so picturesque with the balconies offering a 180-degree view of the sea, Siete Pecados Islands and its lighthouse, and the nearby islands of Panay and Negros.

We had to rush back to Iloilo City since we had one last stop, Breakthrough Restaurant in Arevalo District, which is very popular for its seafoods. It was a treat of Danya's family. After a sumptuous feast, we made our way to the Iloilo Airport in Cabatuan. This new airport shames our crummy Manila Domestic Airport. And mind you, we paid a terminal fee of PHP30 compared to the shabby Manila Domestic's PHP200.
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