Explore Guimaras with Iloilo Side Trips Pt.1

DAY 1 — NOVEMBER 5, SAT:
4:20 am – ETD from Manila
5:30 am – ETA in Iloilo > Head to SM Iloilo 

Our first destination for this “Backpacking Visayas” was actually Guimaras and if my research is right, there are two ways to get there: one is from Iloilo and the other is from Negros.. Well, both is by boat of course. We chose Iloilo since most tourists going to Guimaras comes from this route. And I decided we can do some Iloilo side trips before and after our stay in Guimaras. We booked an early morning flight and arrived in Iloilo at 5:30am. I’ve been to Iloilo once so I know how to get to SM from the airport. Yun lang. Haha! There are available vans for 50php each and travel time is probably around 30 minutes or less.

6:10 am – ETA in SM Iloilo > Head to La Paz Public Market

We arrived at SM probably few minutes after 6am and there are 2 things I wanted us to do before heading straight to Guimaras. That would be trying out Netong’s Batchoy and Madge Cafe. Now, the problem is how to get to La Paz Public Market from SM. Haha. I have the map in mind but asking for directions how to get there was the struggle – part 1. FYI, I can understand Bisaya and can speak a little, but when we asked for directions, people just can’t give us the exact jeepney route. We ended up walking 3kms. Hahaha! But it was 6am and it was a good exercise. :p We were also able to do some sight-seeing as we walked and noticed that their streets are so clean. Eventually, we were able to locate La Paz Public Market, thanks to Google Maps and the struggle – part 2 is where to find Netong’s and Madge Cafe inside the market. Good thing one lady helped us ‘cos she saw us at the airport earlier. Waah! Super tourist mode. Thank you!!

7:00 am – Breakfast at Netong’s Batchoy & Madge Cafe

Iloilo is known for their La Paz Batchoy and I chose to try out Netong’s since it has more positive reviews compared to others like Ted’s or Deco’s. Btw, the other 2 is way easier to find. We saw them at once when we arrived in La Paz Market. Well, good thing we also chose Netong’s because their place is way cleaner or more comfortable I should say compared to the other 2.

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For 120php you can have their special Batchoy with laman-loob stuff. Haha. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it ‘cos it was so bitter. Probably the laman-loob taste isn’t for me. Hahaha. I’ll order the plain one next time.

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After having breakfast at Netong’s, we’re ready for a quick fix of coffee. You can find Madge Cafe near Netong’s inside the market. I’m not really a coffee person but they say that if you find yourself in Iloilo, make sure you try out this one. It boasts of Iloilo’s native coffee and it has really become an iconic coffee shop. Located inside the public market, you’ll get to experience what it’s like to be in a neighborhood coffee shop where people really talk instead of having their eyes glued on laptops. Yep. No Starbucks feel, just pure old-school ambiance. 30php for a cup of their coffee. Not bad, right?

8:00 am – Head to Ortiz Wharf

After the caffeine fix, we are so ready to go to Guimaras! BUT, struggle – part 3 is how to get to Ortiz Wharf. Hahaha. Took us quite a while to figure out what jeepney to ride. Somebody told us to take a JARO jeepney route only to find out that there are 2 JARO routes — JARO CPU and JARO LIKO. =)) Anyway, it should be JARO CPU and we just asked the jeepney driver to drop us at Ortiz Wharf. But since there are no direct jeepneys going there, he just dropped us off at Ortiz Street and we still walked to get to the port.

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Sight-seeing: Ortiz Street with this beautiful old house

8:30 am – ETD from Iloilo

Boat tickets costs 14php and travel time is more or less 30 minutes. It is so near you can see the two islands when you are in the boat. We found out that some Guimaras locals work in Iloilo. Imagine yourself taking the boat everyday to get to work. “Wait lang boss, nasa bangka pa ako.” =))

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9:00 am – ETA in Guimaras (Jordan Wharf) > Avail of Land Tour

When you arrive in Guimaras, you’ll be welcomed by a lot of tourist guides which are also the drivers of either tryc/multicab/van. We rented a tricycle for 1,500php and that’s for the land tour plus drop off to the resort/place where we will stay. Yep, you can do the land tour right away when you get to Guimaras.

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# 1: Smallest Plaza
We started off with the Smallest Plaza. When we were there, I wasn’t really able to get the significance of the place. It was only upon writing of this post that I was to research that this once earned the title of the ‘smallest plaza’ in the Guiness Book of World Records. Hahaha. Wow. It features a small statue of Dr. Jose Rizal and I think it’s still the smallest plaza in the country.

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# 2: San Lorenzo Wind Farm
This wind farm consists of 27 wind turbines generating power not only for the island but also for some parts of Iloilo. I’ve already seen wind farms (the ones in Bangui and Pililia) so I wasn’t really amused when we were there. Still good to know though. Our guide says there are plans of adding more windmills in the next years.

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# 3: Holy Family Hills
A pilgrimage site where they offer life-size stations of the cross, perfect for spiritual retreat/gatherings.

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# 4: Guimaras Provincial Capitol
Aside from the must-see letter sculpture of “Guimaras” with a giant mango beside it, they also have the pasalubong center here.

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# 5: Lunch at The Pitstop
If you are in Guimaras, make sure you stop by The Pitstop and try out their dishes. They have very unique choices of food where they add mangoes to almost everything in the menu. Guimaras is famous for their mangoes, which is considered as one of the sweetest in the world. We loved this mango pizza. Perfect combination of the sweetness of mango and cheese.

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# 6: Trappist Monastery
Well, aside from enjoying the photo-ops with the trees, we were also able to do a bit of “shopping” here. Haha. They have pasalubong/souvenir shop I was able to buy a drawstring bag (which is really cute btw) for 140php and a cellphone waterproof case for only 40php. Other stores sell it for like 100php+. Good find, right?

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# 7: Camp Alfredo
I wasn’t able to read about Camp Alfredo when I was planning this trip. It’s an adventure resort, good for families and nature lovers. They have zipline, hanging bridge and rope courses. They even have a swimming pool and stations of the cross as well. This place has a bit of Baguio-feels especially with their cabins and it looks very inviting!

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# 8: Guisi Lighthouse
This 18th century Spanish-colonial lighthouse offers you a breathtaking view of Guisi beach. Perfect for photo-shoots! Haha. We were able to enjoy the view and the ruins so much ‘cos we’re the only ones in the place when we got there. The bumpy roads getting there was all worth it!

The are 2 places I personally wanted to see but wasn’t able to due to the ff. reasons:

Mango Plantation – What is Guimaras if you won’t be able to see mangoes or even mango trees? Known as the Mango Capital of the Philippines, they boast of their sweet mangoes. Sadly, I think it’s not mango season when we were there. Our tour guide showed us a quick view of the famous mango plantation, from the hi way. Hahaha. He told us that the trees in that plantation no longer bears fruit ‘cos the owner seem to have neglected it in the past years.

Roca Encantadia – Owned by the Lopez Clan, it has become a famous landmark in Guimaras. Built in 1910, I’ve heard that this is declared as a “heritage house”. We weren’t able to drop by because we just remembered this when we’re already in the Trappist Monastery. When we asked our guide if we can still go there, he said it’s a long way going back there, almost an hour travel. He gave us the option to visit the place on Monday morning, before heading back to Iloilo. We had to pass and probably visit it the next time we go back to Guimaras.

3:00 pm – End of Tour > Head to Resort

We ended the tour so tired yet so happy ‘cos we felt like we have done so many things in just 1 day. We checked in at Raymen Beach Resort where we got an aircon room for 1,450php a night. I just asked for the cheapest room and they gave us this, although I’m not sure if they have fan rooms. We decided to rest early that night ‘cos we have island hopping in our schedule the next day.

I decided to write separately about Guimaras island hopping, our stay in Raymen Beach Resort and our few side-trips in Iloilo before going to Bacolod. Interested? CLICK HERE.

Btw, if you are in Iloilo and you have a day to spare, you can actually do Guimaras Land Tour in just half day and be back in Iloilo at 5pm.


Expenses for Day 1:

Van from Airport to SM          50.00
Netong’s Batchoy       120.00
Madge Café          30.00
Jeep to Ortiz            7.00
Boat Fare to Guimaras          14.00
Land Tour

(1,500php for Tryc Tour Package)

      750.00

Light House Entrance Fee

         20.00

Camp Alfredo Entrance Fee

         30.00
Lunch at The PitStop       204.00
TOTAL:    1,225.00
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