Most of the places we have visited during our 2015 Summer Family Road Trip are in Western Visayas and I wish we spent more time in it.
It is what it is though. We just have to revisit it next time.
Our journey through Western Visayas took us through Boracay, Iloilo City, Guimaras Island, Bacolod City, Silay City and Dumaguete with most of the time being spent in Boracay, Iloilo and Guimaras and the rest being side trips on our way to Mindanao.
The first time I was here was when I ran away from home at the age of 15. I worked as a waiter in a restaurant with a name I can no longer remember, got summarily fired a few months after which I went back home. All that without having been able to swim even on my day offs. I figured there was no rush since I was working in Boracay. Big mistake.
Oh well. fast forward 23 years and I’m back with my family. This time I’ve decided to focus on just one thing – enjoy all the time I have with my family.
It was 4pm. the tricycle ride from the port to La Bella Casa de Boracay, the hotel where we were staying in for 3 days was about 10-15 minutes I think. It’s located in Station 3, a quieter part and certainly more family friendly part of White Beach. We checked-in, settled down a bit then got ready for the beach which was just across the street. We have a few more hours of sunlight left.
Jae was so excited I had to take him out first while the ladies got ready. Straight into the water he ran with his bucket of sand castle building tools. After a few failed attempts of building a sand castle, he decided swimming was much more fun.
The girls followed about 30 minutes after by which time Jae already made some new friends.
Walking along Boracay’s White Beach with my family during sunset is perhaps one of the best days in my life.
A quick dinner at D’Mall and we’re out for the day.
Day 2!!! The plan was simple – get out and try as much thrills and rides as we can.
It’s so happened that my sister-in-law’s co-teachers were also in Boracay and were checked-in right next to our hotel. We decided to spend the day together which started with me and Jae going out for a swim while the girls had their hair braided.
The day was spent doing the typical Boracay adventures like para-sailing, helmet diving, fly fishing, banana boating and of course swimming.
We left Boracay at around 5pm on our third day after buying some “pasalubongs” and strolling one more time along its white sandy beaches. Next stop… Iloilo
The drive from Caticlan to Iloilo was about 5 hours. Road was unfamiliar as it was my first time driving here. Once more, thanks to Waze.
It was fun seeing young boys and girls having a date by the bridge and teenagers lying by the side of the road talking to each other while staring at the stars. It’s quite unusual for us to see towns snoozing as early as 8pm. We were hoping to see Jollibee to satisfy our hunger but just about every town we passed by was practically asleep. Luckily we found a store which was open 24/7. They served food so it was good.
We arrived at Iloilo City somewhere around 11pm and checked in for the night at Ong Bun Pension House. The rates where crazy cheap and we did get what we paid for. We were given a room up high (4th floor) with no elevator. Oh well. Ong Bun’s good for back packers but not for family travelers like us. At least the A/C’s working.
We were so tired that we crashed fell asleep almost right away.
Our first morning in Iloilo was spent driving around the city. It’s definitely way more different than what I remember back when I was here 21 years ago. Lot more cars, traffic around the city is not like Manila but surprisingly heavy and the heat, wow… let’s just say Iloilo is HOT.
Our day was pretty much spent like this:
- Morning – breakfast at hotel room.
- Lunch Time – Mang Inasal, SM City Iloilo
- Early afternoon – Stroll around Molo Plaza, Visiting San Agustin, Delgado Street (where I grew up in Iloilo)
- Late afternoon – Visiting my Aunt Nini, Uncle Tibo and my 2nd cousin Kiddo in Tigbauan
- Evening – Meeting up and having dinner with my programmers Fel Jun Palawan and Maron Aquillo in Plazuela de Iloilo
And of course here are some photos.
The plan was to take the car from Iloilo to Guimaras then on to Negros the next day.
So after checking out of Ong Bun Pension House, we went ahead to the Iloilo-Guimaras port along Iloilo river. Waze didn’t work perfectly this time as it took us to the other side of the river. A few more clicks and we were back on track.
Trips from Iloilo to Guimaras and vice-versa is once about every hour. We got to the pier just a few minutes before the next trip leaves and were the last ones to board the RORO vessel. The trip from Iloilo to Guimaras is just around 20-30 minutes.
And what’s in Guimaras Island? Windmills! Lots of windmills so that was our first destination. The drive from the port to where the windmills were located which is on the other side of the island is about an hour. The road was nice at first then about half-way through it was not so nice anymore. Rough road all the way to the windmills but the trip was worth it as we were dramatically greeted by a lone windmill positioned so perfectly that it looked like it was in the middle of the road.
After taking as many photos as we can with these gentle giants that generate clean electricity, we had a quick lunch at a small “carinderia” then drove on to Sibunag which is where the RORO port is located. We had to check it out as we can’t find any phone number. It was another one-hour drive but the roads were awesome this time.
And guess what??? The port is non-operational!!! This means we’ll have to go back to Iloilo City drive a bit to Dumangas Port and catch our RORO trip to Negros from there. All is well, all iz well.
We decided to spend the time enjoying Guimaras. We drove back to Jordan from Sibunag (another 1 hour through rough road) checked out Guimaras’ popular mangoes and bought a few kilos.
We then went to Balaan Bukid which is where the “cross of Guimaras” is located. People told us that we’ll have to trek to the way up but some did tell us that our SUV would be able to drive it all the way to the top. We took our chances and lo and behold we did it. We were able to drive all the way to where the road ends which is near the top. We still had to walk about 200 meters uphill through weird looking rocks that resemble corals.
And the result? Awesome! It’s one thing to see the cross from Iloilo City. It’s another thing to go up close to it with your family and enjoy the view from the top of Guimaras Island. I’d say that Guimaras should be on anyone’s itinerary in this part of the country and going up Balaan Bukid to check out the cross and the awesome view of Iloilo City is certainly something to behold especially if you’re an Ilonggo.
We spent the night and the morning of the next day at Jannah Glycel Beach House which is a very peaceful place to stay in while in Guimaras. I highly recommend it.
Our last day in Guimaras we passed by Trappist and bought a bunch of pasalubongs before heading back to Iloilo.
Next up… Negros!