Panay Adventures Part 1: Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Guimaras

Situated at the western part of Visayas are six provinces showcasing different landscapes that will leave a traveler in awe. On the 18th of January, I chose to roam around Region VI: The Western Visayas, also known as Panay.

Photo source:  http://nap.psa.gov.ph/ru6/fact&figure.htm

This post focuses on the three provinces that are usually visited in one trip, especially since Guimaras is accessible through Iloilo or Negros Occidental.

Day 1:  NEGROS OCCIDENTAL CITY TOUR
My journey started at Negros Occidental,the Philippines’ primary sugar producer. No wonder delicacies from this province are also meant to satisfy one’s sweet tooth.

Geography  and Accessibility
Negros Occidental is on the left side of the Negros Island, just beside Negros Oriental. It is separated from the Panay Isand via the Guimaras Strait. One could reach Negros Occidental from Manila via plane to Bacolod-Silay International Airport located in Silay City, Negros Occidental, or from Iloilo which would be about an hour or two away via ferry or speed boat.
I arrived at Silay City by 8 in the morning. To save money, upon arrival at the Bacolod-Silay International Airport, walk towards the airport gate, alight a passenger tricycle going to the city proper (10php), then catch a bus or jeepney going to Bacolod City (13php). Through this  route, a traveler could reach Bacolod City proper in  about an hour.

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Rizal Park in Silay
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Do note that at the arrival area, drivers would offer you a 50php van trip to Silay City proper or a 150php van trip to Bacolod City. However, bear in mind that the arrival area to the  airport gate is just about a 5-minute walk, and the commute from Silay City to Bacolod City is not much of a hassle especially since traffic is light.

Roaming Around Negros Occidental

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Capitol Park and Lagoon

After my late lunch at Manokan Country (near SM City Bacolod), I went to the Bacolod Baywalk  a few meters away. Since the rains had been around for a few days already, according to some locals, the sky was painted with a sullen shade of gray but the waters were relatively calm.

Bacolod Baywalk opens at 3 in the afternoon and visitors are required to pay 20php entrance fee. There is a race cart track within the vicinity and a  short obstacle course as  well. At a distance, one could catch a glimpse of the BREDCO Port, the dock where water vehicle to Iloilo are situated.
After some time, I decided to go to The Ruins, a mansion that now stands only with its foundations but has remained to be stunning.

TRY: Better than Mang Inasal’s chicken is the Bacolod Inasal Chicken which is the inspiration of the former. For just about a hundred pesos, try this dish at any local restaurant at Manokan Country near SM City Bacolod.

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Other  places to visit: Mambukal Spring Resort located in Murcia, Negros Occidental.

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Pope John Paul Tower II

Primary mode of transportation: Trisikads and jeepneys

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Ro-Ro at BREDCO Port

Day 2: CITY TOUR AROUND ILOILO
On my second day, I was determined to cross  the waters from Negros to Iloilo since a friend of mine would arrive that day, and a few more friends would arrive at Aklan two days after that.

Geography and Accessibility
Direct flights from Manila to Iloilo are available at a regular basis. On the other hand, speedboats, ferries, and Ro-Ros from Negros Occidental to Iloilo are also available.
Speedboats did not travel that day due to a gale warning, but  with my determination, I set aside my fear and took the Ro-Ro (roll on-roll off) to Dumangas Port in Iloilo.

Speedboats cost about 200php per  person but will take you directly to Iloilo City. Meanwhile, the Ro-Ro to Dumangas costs only 80php but will  drop you off at Dumangas Port, about an hour away from  Iloilo City.

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For about two hours, I was staring at the waves of Guimaras Strait until I caught a  glimpse of the Guimaras province on my left, and the Iloilo province on my  right.

Roaming around Iloilo
Upon arrival at Dumangas Port, I took a tricycle to Dumangas City proper, shared with other  passengers. From the city proper, I rode a  jeepney (25php) to Tagbak Terminal where I caught a ride to Iloilo City (13php).
I wanted to  visit the University of the Philippines Miag-ao, so from the city proper, I rode a jeepney going to Miag-ao for 50php with an hour’s worth of travel.

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UP Miag-ao Campus

UP Miag-ao’s new administration building resembles UP Diliman’s Quezon Hall. I roamed around the vicinity and looked for the beach that my friend from  UPV told me about.

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According to the guard, the beach beside the UPV vicinity is not claimed by either Guimaras or Iloilo. The tricycle I rented then took me to the Miag-ao Church just in front of Miag-ao Park, but I walked back to visit the Sulu Garden, which turned out to be a restaurant.

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Sulu Garden Restaurant

At about 4 in the afternoon, I rode a bus (44php) to Molo City where I visited the Molo Church in front of the Molo Park. When nighttime came, I decided to visit the ancestral houses in Jaro City, but decided otherwise because  they look extraa creepy under the dim light of the moon.

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I waited for  my friend’s arrival at SM City Iloilo since public vans take passengers from Iloilo International Airport to the aforementioned mall.

Primary mode of transportation: jeepneys and buses
TRY: Batchoy (soup) at La Paz Public Market
Other place/s to visit: Isla de Gigantes

Day  3: GUIMARAS
My friend and I woke up early to start our Guimaras Land Trip through a pencil booked tour with a local tourist, Kuya Cherald Padojenog. However, since it was Dinagyang Festival Season, we were quite a bit caught up in traffic.

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Geography and Accessibility
Guimaras is a separate island closest to Iloilo. There aren’t any airports in this province. The best way to reach this is via Iloilo, or via the southern part of Negros Occidental.
From Molo City, take a jeepney to Ortiz Wharf (7php). In  our case, we needed to ride a pedicab since we were dropped off quite far from the wharf due to the festival-caused traffic. From the wharf, boat ticket to Guimaras costs 14php. Travel time would be about 10-15minutes.

Roaming around Guimaras
Upon arrival at Jordan Wharf, we registered at the tourism office where Kuya Cherald fetched us. Kuya Cherald seems to be the most popular tour guide in town, with much help from bloggers who recommend him. Despite his popularity, he allocates his other visitors to other  guides without asking for a portion from them, while also leaving tips and reminders to other guides for the safety and enjoyment of the visitors.
Our land trip via a habal-habal (motorbike) started at the Smallest Plaza where a statue of Jose Rizal stands tall. As off today, the Smallest Plaza is only the second smallest plaza in the world, but Guimaras has a plan to win  back the title.

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We then visited  the Holy Family Hills where the stations of the cross are situated. According to Kuya Cherald, the place is densely crowded during the Holy Week.

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We then dropped by the windmills that supply electricity party to Guimaras but mainly to Iloilo. Afterwards, we had a lunch of Mango Pizza (290php) and Beef Mango Bulalo (245php per big bowl) at Pit Stop.

To continue our tour, we visited the Mango Plantation where mango trees populate the place. Afterwards, we went to the Trappist Monastery where pasalubongs can be bought at a low cost.

We took a long drive until we reached the ruins of the Guisi Lighthouse (20php), still beautiful despite the wreck. Much more stunning is the view from the lighthouse. We also took a quick walk along the Guisi Beach, marvelling its calm facade. Such beautiful scenery, however, was defeated by a more eye-catching place, the Alibuhod Beach also known as the Little Boracay of Guimaras.

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Guisi Lighthouse Ruins

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Guisi Beach

Before we left Guimaras, we  bought green mangoes and fresh shrimp paste (bagoong) for us to eat on  our way back to Iloilo.

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TRY: Mango Pizza, Beef  Mango Bulalo, and Green Mangoes from the Mango Capital of the Philippines

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Other places to visit: The Islands of Guimaras via Island Hopping tour (1000-1500 per day)
Primary mode of transportation: habal-habals and tricycles

Note: Kuya Cherald Offers land tours and island hopping tours. A land trip via habal-habal for one person costs  700php, while it costs 1000pho for two, excluding gas and entrance fees. If you are a group of 3-6 people, he could offer the land trip  via tricycle for 1200php, while big groups could avail the van service.

You may contact Kuya Cherald via Facebook or via his numbers: 09179647934 or 09084748122.

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