Pegged as the Philippines’ City of Love, Iloilo City is the capital city of Iloilo province in Panay Island situated in Western Visayas. Iloilo City is one of Visayas’ major tourist destination due to its rich heritage and not to mention being the home of the warm and romantic Ilonggos. The city is also highly urbanized and serves as a center of trade and commerce in Western Visayas region. Thus, apart from its delicious cuisines, old churches and historical buildings, Iloilo City has a wide array of hotels and accommodations for business travelers and backpackers alike. If you’re planning to visit the city, check out booking sites like Traveloka that allow you to choose the best deals and check out reviews.
During my first visit in Western Visayas, I took a 2GO ferry trip from Batangas to Caticlan. My initial plan was to visit Aklan first before Roxas City and Iloilo City. When the ferry docked in Caticlan port, there was a passenger van route to Iloilo City. I hopped in the van and took that 4 hour trip from Caticlan Jetty port to Iloilo City. Having no concrete plans, I did not have any itinerary or even hotel or accommodation to stay once I arrive in Iloilo City.
I arrived at 2:00 AM. The van driver was kind enough to drop me in front of the hotel across SM Iloilo. Since it was already past 2:00 AM, after realizing that the check-out time was at 12:00 noon, I opted to look for cheaper accommodations in the area. Well, I love spontaneous travelling but I do not fully advise it. It’s fun but it’s still better to plan your travel ahead of time.
After a long land-sea-land travel from Manila to Iloilo, I woke up late that day. Come noon time, I was excited to visit Miag-Ao church. I have only seen photos of the church on a gallery in National museum and Vigan Museum. I was amazed by its intricate and beautiful architecture.
I immediately left the hotel see Miag-Ao. I then realized that it was an hour away from the city center. I proceeded anyway and took a jeepney from the hotel to the municipality of Molo where jeepneys bound to Miag-Ao. I walked in the Molo park and checked-out the Spanish-colonial and heritage site – Molo church. This national landmark features Gothic architecture is also known as the Feminist Church due to the all women statues of saints situated on the aisle pillars. Across the street is the popular Molo Mansion. Built in 1920, this mansion was believed to have hosted Presidents Quezon and Osmeña during their visit in Iloilo city. This once abandoned mansion has now turned into a Philippine souvenir shop.
I then proceeded with my journey to Miag-Ao church. After taking 2 jeepneys from Molo district. I arrived in Miag-Ao church. The church’s Baroque Romanesque architecture and its intricately designed facade make it one of the most beautiful church in the Philippines. Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993, Miag-Ao church has become one of Iloilo’s tourist destination.
On my way back to Molo district, I couldn’t help myself but to alight the passenger jeepney every time I see a church in the area.
Molo Soup in Molo District
It was already afternoon when I arrived back in Molo district. I asked several locals where I could eat the authentic Pancit Molo. One local informed me to eat at Tita Paz House of Pancit Molo.
Iloilo City Night Tour
I was lucky enough that I have relatives living in Iloilo. Come evening, they invited me for a dinner at Ayala’s Atria Park District, Iloilo’s relatively new lifestyle hub. Atria looks like a typical Ayala lifestyle center in Manila.
After our dinner, they toured me around the city. We visited the modern and state of the art Iloilo Convention center. Located in Mandurriao, this modern architecture was built-in September 2015. Just in time for the Philippine’s APEC 2015 hosting. Next stop was the old Iloilo Provincial Capitol. This Spanish colonial architecture was declared as a National Historical Site by the National Historical Commission in 2010.
We then visited Calle Real which means “Royal Street” in Spanish. Located In the old downtown district, this street is home to the art-deco and luxury American neoclassical era architectures. It is said that the street used to be the area of high-end shopping outlets during the early period of American occupancy in the Philippines. We also visited what locals call as Esplanade. This Iloilo river esplanade is a popular destination among Ilonggos and tourists alike.