Backpacking in Western Visayas


Almost a year ago my friends visited my hometown and we went on a 4-day backpacking in Western Visayas. As an Ilonggo I wanted them to experience the Ilonggo culture, cuisine and enjoy the natural sights offered by the islands of Negros, Panay and Guimaras.

(MORE :  Revisiting Iloilo , Iloilo on Budget)

Day 1: Molo, Iloilo – Alubihod, Guimaras

My friends arrived around 9 or 10 in the morning. We started day one in Molo District by visiting Molo Church with its all-female saints. After lunch we took a motorboat in Ortiz St for Jordan, Guimaras for an overnight stay and late night swimming. We stayed at Raymen’s Resort, the most developed resort in Alubihod beach as of the time of writing. The resort offers amenities like billiards and a small restaurant.

In contrast to Jaro Cathedral, this church features all women saints on its aisle.
IMG_3593
Ilonggo’s called this humble beach as their little Boracay. Located just 15 minutes away from Iloilo City, this island is a perfect gateaway for the Ilonggo urbanites.

Day 2: Guimaras (Island Hopping, Ave Maria, Turtle Island, Baras Cave, Isla Naburot, Trappist Monastery, Mango)- Teds, Jaro, Bauhinia

Day 2 is for island hopping, for other tourist I recommend to have this as your first activity early in the morning for the water is calmest. First we visited SEAFDEK and feed the “hundred year old milkfish” (the caretaker claimed it’s around hundred years old, I don’t know if it’s true but they’re big), giant groupers and red snappers to name a few. After feeding our sights with monstrous fish we sailed to Ave Maria Island and swim like owners of this uninhabited island. One of the perks of sailing the earliest is you’ve got to taste the beach first. Across Ave Maria is Turtle island, our guide told us that we can walk/swim across the island with our life vest on however we never dare after all the sea is unpredictable. After visiting the marine turtles we visited Baras Cave, here you can swim under the roof of the cave. More sightseeing awaits us near Isla Naburot then we went back to Alubihod beach for another dip.

(MORE: Guimaras Island)

Limestone islets around Guimaras...
Limestone islets around Guimaras…
In Tagalog, it's lapu-lapu named after a local chieftain who killed Ferdinand Magellan.
In Tagalog, it’s lapu-lapu named after a local chieftain who killed Ferdinand Magellan.
If Palawan has St Paul's, Guimaras has a smaller version named Baras Cave.
If Palawan has St Paul’s, Guimaras has a smaller version named Baras Cave.

We checked out before 12 noon, on our way back to Iloilo we visited Trappist Monastery. It is the only men’s monastery in the Philippines under the Cistercian Order, here you can reflect and buy some souvenirs like mango jam and key chains. As far as I know the monks pray 7 times a day so for sure on your way you can catch one.

Guimaras is known for the sweetest mango, and you will not have a hard time looking for one. Along the way to Jordan Wharf, fresh mangoes are sold at affordable prices.

(MORE: Native Delicacies at Emilion

After Guimaras I took my friends for a short walk along Iloilo City. One of my friends told me that it is good to stroll around if they just had enough time. Not surprising, Iloilo is rich in architectural treasures including centuries old church, old buildings and mansions from former “hacienderos”. Aside from architecture, Iloilo is mostly known for its delicious food thus I let them taste Iloilo’s favorite La Paz Bachoy at Ted’s near SM Delgado. For dinner, I brought them to Smallville Entertainment Complex, the nightlife capital of Iloilo. Here they tasted “Binakol” an Ilonggo cuisine made from chicken and young coconut meat at Bauhinia. I highly recommend Binakol for visitors on top of La Paz Batchoy and Pancit Molo.

The famous La Paz Batchoy is a must try in Iloilo.
The famous La Paz Batchoy is a must try in Iloilo.
If you wanted to try chicken with buko meat try Binakol, an  Ilongo dish served in Bauhinia Restaurant.
If you wanted to try chicken with buko meat try Binakol, an Ilongo dish served in Bauhinia Restaurant.
Smallville Complex, Iloilo's night spot.
Smallville Complex, Iloilo’s night spot.

Day 3: Negros (Guyabano Shake, Hanging Bridge, 7 falls, trek, Hot Spring at Night)

Touchdown Bacolod, we head inland towards the town of Murcia for Mambukal Resort. I wrote a blog before about Mambukal and its Seven Falls. For this visit, we tried their hanging bridge for the first time on our way to the 7 waterfalls. For those who planned to stay overnight, they usually gave complementary entrance to the adult pool. One new find here is their Guyabano Shake, try one and you will surely look for another one.

(MORE: Mambukal and its Seven Falls)

Hanging bridge in Mambukal falls.
Hanging bridge in Mambukal falls.
Children jump from the tree tops at a small pond on top of the 6th falls.
Children jump from the tree tops at a small pond on top of the 6th falls.
Night swimming at the hot spring.
Night swimming at the hot spring.

Day 4: Negros (Pasalubong)- Iloilo (Pancit Molo, Roberto’s Siopao)

For your pasalubong, don’t forget the sweet piaya (from Bongbong’s), pinasugbo and kalamay hati from Bacolod. Butterscotch, barquillos and biscocho (from Biscocho Haus) from Iloilo City. My friend heard about Roberto’s Siopao so we bought one in downtown Iloilo, it taste good and a must try. They were all craving to taste Pancit Molo thus before going to the airport we had one at JD Bakeshop-Roadhouse near University of San Agustin. My friends almost miss their flight for all the activities and fun.

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