Friday, March 18, 2011

My Solo Adventure In Iloilo

It was our second day in Iloilo. I can still picture Jaro Cathedral in my mind as well as the other old houses we've passed by in Jaro the day before. I was already taking a bath early that morning since we will be leaving soon for Kalibo, Aklan where we will be meeting our friend who coincidentally arrived there during our trip. Minutes later, I heard them agreeing to look for a park or a field where they can play Ultimate (frisbee) before we leave. Nikko (my bf) told me he's going and since I'm still in the shower, I couldn't do anything but just to let him go. They couldn't wait for me since they were in a hurry. Maybe Ultimate can be addictive? Only they know. :D

Two of our companions didn't go with them, as well as the two kids who were busy watching cartoons. When I finished showering, I couldn't settle with the idea that I'll be spending the morning in front of TV, or waiting for them to get back when I know that maybe, there are more to see and discover in the city. Who knows if this would be the first and last time I'll be visiting Iloilo? Suddenly, I decided I'll walk around, just to see whatever there's more to see.

I researched prior to this trip. Unfortunately, to our hurry going to the airport, we left the print outs of the interesting places in the city. I can't recall anything yet I remembered something like Plaza Libertad. Without knowing what to expect, and how to get there, I asked the front desk officer for directions. She was very helpful to give me the details. I rode a jeep just across the street and asked the driver to kindly drop me at Plaza Libertad. The driver is kind enough, we even had small talks in Tagalog and learned that he was from Bataan who married an Ilongga. I remembered it took the jeep several minutes and turns before the driver told me I'm already in the plaza. I thanked him.

Plaza Libertad is nothing extraordinary, yet I'm impressed that it's clean. There are lots of aged trees providing cool shade to people who flock the area. There's a statue of Dr. Jose Rizal located in the center of the park. A lot of banks (with old building as their offices) are around the vicinity. I sat for a while, noticed that students from the adjacent school held their P.E. classes in the park. Some locals are jogging, playing chess and I even saw two lovers who are sitting beside each other, it wasn't PDA that I saw but the look in their faces is evident of how much they are in love with each other. Nikko suddenly crossed my mind, thinking where he might be right at that moment.

There is also a church adjacent to the park. Reading from a banner near it, it is the San Jose de Placer Church. The church was originally built in 1617, with the other parts added on later dates. It almost suffered bombing in World War II by the Americans but was luckily spared. The architectural type is Byzantine-Neoclassic, and it is said that it was built to resemble Valencia del Cid, a church in Spain.

Beside the church is a very old looking house with the ground floor built with stone and wood on the upper part. It has wide airy windows and intricate wood carvings on the exterior. I'm thinking it might be a part of the church then I noticed the "for sale" sign posted in the gate.

After taking some pictures and observing for a while, I then asked a lady in the park if there are other old houses in the vicinity. After noticing that I don't have company, she asked me why am I strolling alone instead of answering my question. It was very obvious I'm a tourist since I can't speak their dialect. I just smiled and told her my colleagues have other businesses to attend to. She then told me I shouldn't be wandering alone without really helping with my question. I just thanked her then left. I thought she was rude yet I was a little concerned with the way she acted. Did she intend to tell me their city isn't a safe place for a lone traveler? I dismissed the idea and decided to walk around.

Very near the park is General Hughes St. I chanced walking there hoping there might be more old houses. I wasn't dismayed at all, I saw some interesting old houses that differ in styles yet is evident of the Spanish era in our country.

There was a school then a ruin of an old building that caught my attention. I was told it was destroyed by fire. That may be a very grand house/mansion should it had been still standing. I moved further, then realizing that I'm headed to a pier. I didn't feel safe seeing there are lots of guys where I will pass, some not even wearing shirts so I turned left on the next street, not knowing where it will lead me.

I saw another ruin and a white house. It was almost a relic but noticeable that it is well-maintained. Then there was these three ancient houses built side by side. It almost transported me to the old times - I could imagine how the entire place looked like before. I was really disheartened though when I tried taking photos and my camera's battery got empty. :(

A few steps more and I was surprised I'm back to Plaza Libertad! I checked my watch and I know in a few minutes, it's time to go back. I still wanted to see more so I continued moving forward,along JM Basa St. (formerly Calle Real St.) passing by the Iloilo City hall. I saw a few more old structures, some resembling the facade of Intramuros buildings. It was a treat for my eyes. I'm sad though knowing I can't capture anything from there. On the sidewalk near the City Hall, vendors were displaying house decorations made of capiz which were created artistically. If I ain't working on a budget, I surely bought one to bring home. I proceeded on foot seeing more stalls. I always check out what seems to be interesting to me.

I then stopped because I thought I saw an obelisk, the landmark near the local eatery the other day. If that is it, that meant I'm already near the pension house. I was kind of thinking if it's really the same obelisk so I asked the traffic officer how do I go to Ong Bun Pension house from there. He told me to just turn left on Ledesma. I then realized, I had just walked what seemed to be a long way when I was riding the jeep earlier. I turned left and soon enough, I was already in front of the pension house.

I then walked up the stairs leading to the front desk feeling high in spirits, not just because my time wasn't wasted waiting but because I was able to explore on my own - in an unfamiliar land, witnessed new things and was back without being lost. Right after I entered our room, I recharged my battery right away, determined never to miss anything again, in case I'll have to do yet another solo adventure.


  1. The area you were exploring near Plaza Libertad is not safe. That's why the lady was very concerned with your welfare. Other areas in the city are generally safe. Do not assume that you survived the streets of Manila, you can handle Iloilo City better. You should have asked the front desk whether this and that area is safe. And never walk around late in the evening. At eight pm it may seem early, but this is Iloilo City. People are home by that time.

  2. I feel that Ilonggos are generally sweet and kind-hearted people but I understand what you mean Claire. The truth is, there's a side that's unsafe in any places we may go to that's why we should be careful with our judgments and actions when traveling in unfamiliar lands, specially alone. On my end, now that you've mentioned it, I'm just thankful that I was able to savor a little taste of Iloilo, your lovely province unscratched and unharmed. It was a nice experience. :)

  3. Hi Pang, I'll be going to Iloilo next week and will have time to look around ...more likely alone like you. Thanks for sharing your adventure. Surely, it help me what to expect and where to go. Jessica

  4. Hi Jessica! Glad you found it helpful. :) Sorry I was late answering back, been away for two weeks. Hope you have fun im Iloilo, try to visit miag-ao church if you can. Heard it was really beautiful, that something i missed when I went there.


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