31/365: When In Iloilo: The Trappist Abbey and Pasalubong

As the  month of January ends this also ends my series of “When In Iloilo” posts.    But this does not mean that I will not feature Iloilo anymore.   If something new and exciting comes along I will definitely share them.  

Buying “PASALUBONG” is of course the perfect way to end a trip.  During my early visits to Iloilo the first memory that comes into my mind are the pasalubong houses located around the city.  Not until we had an unplanned trip to Iloilo's paradise island of Guimaras.  This gives me a warm memory of a place that we accidentally discovered – the Trappist Abbey located in Bgy. San Miguel, Jordan Town in Guimaras Island.

We found this place while rushing back to home after enjoying the white and beautiful beach of Guimaras Island. We want to reach the Jordan Port so that we can take the pump boat that will bring us back to the city proper before it gest dark. I saw some signage and a chapel.


I immediately asked our hired service about it and our driver said some things a bout a chapel, monks and a souvenir store.  We forgot about reaching the port before it gets dark. It was a quick decision from the whole family to make a stopover at the chapel to say a thanksgiving prayer. By the time the service stopped we are all running out of the car heading to the chapel while visually auditing the vicinity. We all find it amusing to find such a place.  SERENE and PEACEFUL are the perfect words to describe the place.

The place has three major parts. The Guesthouse, The Abbey Church and The Factory.


The sign says:
“Welcome to Our Lady of the Philippines Trappist Abbey.  We welcome you as CHRIST would because you are in fact the person of CHRIST.  When you come into this place we receive God’s mercy and love in you.  Please feel free to join us in our prayers.
Thank you,
The Monks of O.L.P.

The very simple structure of the chapel.


The chapel’s main entrance.


The very modest church interior that gives more meaning to the serenity of the place.

The Trappist Monastery grounds is a peaceful and sacred enclave in Guimaras Island run by monks of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance. These monks follow the rule of St. Benedict and are best known for the extreme austerity or strictness that characterizes their discipline.
The monks earn a living by selling souvenir items and processed foods such as jellies, jams, candies, piyaya and more.  They sold it in a small shop within the monastery grounds.  All the products are from ingredients grown in the Trappist ground.
People are allowed to tour the monastery grounds, visit their prayer areas and can talk with the monks.  There are also available guest houses at reasonable prices.  A good place for a retreat. (From various sources)
We saw some monks  but they seem to be in meditation so we did not bother them.  After praying at the chapel we proceeded to the souvenir store.

Amazing!  I only see this kind of place in movies and I am feeling so amused that I am actually experiencing it.

Image00902 Image00903

I know that it will not be often that  we will be in Guimaras so I took  the opportunity to give my share to this Abbey.  We bought all our pasalubong here in Trappist. 
Aside from the historical churches Iloilo is also famous as the origin of delicious delicacies.  Biscocho, Piyaya, Barquillos, Bayi-bayi, Butter Scotch, Pinasugbo and a lot more.


Wewin’s and Biscocho Haus are two of the popular pasalubong stores in Iloilo City.

The “Biscocho Haus” located in Jaro, Iloilo City has a very nice waiting area.  I remember the time when my family was eating some delicacies inside this store/house while seated in a beautiful family bench. 
Digital image

Which among this “pasalubong from Iloilo do you like best?

30/365: When In Iloilo: Road Trip To Janiuay Iloilo and Three Churches (Part 2 of 2)

With a full tummy from that sumptuous lunch we are now ready to invade the churches that we marked on the way to Janiuay while we were driving back home.  As expected on a Monday the churches that we visited were closed so most photos that you will be seeing here were taken from the outside structures of the churches.


St. Nicolas of Tolentino or Cabatuan Church is about 23 kilometers from Iloilo City.  It is said to be built in 1834, Neoclassical in style but the front façade is Tuscan particularly its pilasters.  It is also ornated with Augustinian symbols. 

It is the only church in Iloilo that has 6 belfries four of which were destroyed by an earthquake in 1948.  The belfries are Byzantine in style.  The central structure of the church is in the shape of the cross which is about 50 meters long and about 20 meters wide.


Photo shoot concept by my brother in law at Cabatuan Church


Before World War II. there was a rectory of convent at the right side of the church that can accommodate 3,000 people but it was burned down by the guerrillas.  It was then demolished by the Japanese Imperial Army and the bricks were used for the Tiring Landing Field.  

The old structure of Cabatuan Church

Cabatuan Old

Every side of the church is a façade in itself because its walls are overlaid in bricks.  It is said to be the first and the largest brick structure in the Visayas. 


While I was feeding my eyes with the beauty of this church which is located near the town plaza, my companions were enjoying the “sa malamig” (cold drinks) and other street foods at the town plaza.  They don’t normally do that but they said that it should be part of the trip ha ha.  After this trip is when we explored the Cabatuan Cemetery.


Off we go to the next church which is about 20 kilometers away from the city - the Sta. Barbara Church!
This is one church that I am frustrated for not being able to explore fully and witness the marks of one important part of Philippine history.  This is the church where General Martin T. Delgado of the Visayan Revolutionary Government convened the junta that raised the first cry of revolution against the Spaniards in Iloilo.  Thus the Sta. Barbara Church is famously known as the Historic Cradle of Independence in the Visayas.

According to history most religious construction on this era were done through “forced labor”. That is all males over the age of 16 is required to do mandatory labor on any Spanish-owned construction on a slave-like condition.

There are other more historical stories about this church but lets reserved them at the moment until I totally explore this church.   Anyway I am adding this church to my list of further exploration.  I am so eager to see the historical “freedom bell” that tolled the signal of final victory.   For now let’s enjoy the front façade of this historical church.

The façade of the church is simple but classical.   There are four sets of pilasters that divide the church into three sections which are the main entrance, and the two walls that houses the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Sacred Heart.  This reminds me of the façade of The Church of St. Anthony de Padua in Barotac Nuevo also in Iloilo City.  On the upper most niche at the center also is the statute of Sta. Barbara.


Photo shoot concept by my brother in law at Sta. Barbara Church

The Sta. Barbara Church is one among the Augustinian Church in the Philippines proven by the Augustinian seal located just above the central front door and window.


The Sta. Barbara Church is considered one of the better restored and preserved neoclassical churches in the province.  It is also an excellent example of the Filipino baroque colonial architecture.


Since we can not further explore this church off we go to the next church exploration


That was the first thought that came into my mind (and eyes) when I first saw this structure.  I consider this church as the simplest by far in design compared to all the churches that I have been into in Iloilo City.  It is as simple as its town which is one among the second class municipality in the province of Iloilo.

The Sta. Monica Church is said to be similar in Pavia Italy where this town got its name as well.  According to history this Byzantine-styles church made from red bricks and coral windows cases were used by the Japanese as a garrison. 


It is a century-old church built by the Spanish Augustinian Fathers sometime in 1862.  The walls both exteriors and interiors are made entirely of red bricks.  Its façade is decorated with semi-circular arched windows and entrances with three wooden doors, one at the main entrance and two at each sides.

The six panel windows at the center are decorated with stained glasses depicting the events in Christ’s life on earth – The Annunciation; The Baptism; The Last Supper;  The Crucifixion; The Assumption and the Ascension.
Photo shoot concept by my brother in law at Pavia Church


By the way, Pavia town is just 8 kilometers away from the city.  Ahh we are near home and my tired but happy eyes and spirit are now ready to hit the bed while mentally calculating how I’m going to pack my things that I accumulated during the two-week stay on my over-the-weekend-bag. LOL.

But if you think were done with this trip – nope.  We passed by the Jaro Plaza and enjoy the “tiange”, “bargains”  and all the things that one enjoy at the town plaza during the fiesta which was just few days away from that date.  My in-laws were once again encouraging me to extend my stay until fiesta day but I sweetly declined (though I was very tempted ha ha).  I  gained a lot of weight during this trip but no regrets!


29/365: When In Iloilo: Road Trip To Janiuay Iloilo and Three Churches (Part 1 of 2)

Today’s destination is Janiuay Iloilo City!
Janiuay is a first-class municipality in the province of Iloilo, Philippines. According to the 2010 census, it had a population of 63,031 people.  The municipality is located 33 kilometres (21 mi) north-west of Iloilo City. It was created in 1769.
Two rivers coming from the north-west cuts in parallel through Janiuay. One is the Suage River and the other is the Magapa River which provide natural irrigation supporting the mainly agricultural town of Janiuay. The Suage river bridge was once witness to fierce fighting between Japanese Imperial forces and the combined Filipino and American troops including the recognized Ilonggo guerrilla fighters. The Magapa river bridge was built after WWII. 
While there is no certainty, there are several legends of how the place got its name. One is that it came from the ruling Datu's sons named "Han" and "Oway". Another is that the words "hani" (whisper) and "oway" (rattan) were combined. (Source: Wikipedia)


Remember the road trip to cemetery post?  This is our real destination – the town of Janniuay!  That cemetery experience was just a side trip or what I call a bonus experience. This is what I like most about road trip.  You will experience more than what you expected and most of them are fun and worth remembering.


Anyway, we did this road trip because a very close family friend and neighbor whom I met in Manila is also at the town for Dinagyang and for his hometown’s town fiesta.  My friend invited me and my in-laws for lunch at their home.  We were laughing about while on the trip because Janiuay is quite far from the city. We were joking about why we need to travel such miles just to eat lunch while in fact we could eat anywhere at the cost of the gasoline that we are going to consume on this road trip ha ha.  But that’s the magic of friendship and adventure- you travel miles just to have special moments with them plus the chance to explore.

The other purpose of this trip apart from meeting my friend’s family is for me to see more churches which my in-laws are aware that I am passionate about.  They are so supportive of me to see as many churches as we can from this trip.

The other challenge is that we need to be back home early for me to have some rest time and also a time to pack my things because the next day is my flight back to Manila on an early morning flight – 4AM!  Whew!  The adventurer in me never wasted any time.

I remember it was a Monday and I’m expecting that the churches that we will be visiting are close.  But nevertheless I am excited.   I know that I will still enjoy the beauty of them from the front façade alone.  There were still be more time to go back and explore the inner structure of the church some other time.

The plan was that there will be no stop over on the way to Janiuay so we will arrive just in time for lunch.  The stop over will be done on the way back.  What we did was that we marked all that places that we will be stopping over. 

We arrived at Janiuay just  around lunch time and we were welcomed by a sumptuous lunch table.  There were lots of food and fresh fruits on the table but I forgot about all of them because of one dish that they call KBL (Kadyos-Baboy-Langka)/(Pigeon Pea/Pork/Unripe Jackfruit). 

I remember how hubby always brags about how Ilonggo cooked the “KBL” dish (OMG!  I failed to include this in my Iloilo must eat food list). Now I know what he meant after tasting it from my friend’s mom recipe.  My friend’s mom is such a good cook.  It was soooo deliciously good that we were still talking about it on our way back home.

The coming Saturday on that week is the town’s fiesta and my friend was insisting for me to extend my stay so that I can experience the fiesta which I kindly begged off because my trip has been over extended from a weekend trip to a two-week trip (LOL).

I was kidding my friend that  we don’t need to wait for the fiesta because the food they prepared for us is like “fiesta” day ha ha. 


My in laws and my friends parents shared stories about how the places in Iloilo changed while we younger ones shared our Dinagyang adventures.  My friend was kidding that he haven’t experienced Iloilo and Dinagyang the way I experienced it while in fact he’s the true-blooded Ilonggo ha ha.

It was a fun and quick but meaningful visit that we enjoyed a lot.  My only regret about this trip was that we were not able to explore the Janiuay church and cemetery which both known for their historical features.  The church was enclosed with temporary safety fences due to the on going urgent repairs that they were trying to finish before the town fiesta.  While the cemetery is located one kilometer further from my friend’s home. We don’t have the time to travel the distance.

View of Janiuay church across the street from our moving vehicle.


Anyway, we headed on our way back home to the city and started our church hopping!

28/365: When In Iloilo: The Jaro Cathedral, The Jaro Belfry and Nuestra Seňora dela Candelaria

Your Iloilo trip is not complete unless you experienced the 3Cs!
The Cathedral
The Campanario
The Candelaria

This cathedral is the first church I visited in Iloilo City during my first trip some ten more years back. Thus I am wondering why I don’t have a photograph of this church that I purposely took.  Most of the photographs on this post were randomly taken by my hubby while we roam around the church vicinity.  I might have one from my old photographs (prints) probably taken when digital is not yet in.  I’m planning to take a look at these old photographs one time and compare it to these new ones.
The Jaro (Metropolitan) Cathedral is also knows as the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Candles.  It is the cathedral for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Jaro is under the original patronage of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.  It is located in Jaro Plaza, Iloilo City Philippines.  The shrine is constructed of Romanesque revival architecture. (Source: Wikipedia)
Digital image



The bell tower or belfry is one of the most important part of a Catholic church.   It houses the bells which toll the hours such as the angelus and it also call the people to mass.   During the Spanish times the “campanario” (belfry) also served as watch tower against invaders – the Jaro belfry served as one.

However most belfries are typically built next to their churches unlike the Jaro Belfry - it is located across the street at the heart of the Jaro plaza.  The reason is that  this belfry was originally built adjacent to a church but an earthquake destroyed the church and the tower was left.

I also gathered from several research and heard from the old people from Jaro that the original belfry has life size statues that stood in every corner of the belfry.  There was also a huge clock.  Both statues and the huge clock were not restored when renovations are done in the 80’s.
The Jaro belfry is made of bricks and limestone blocks that was built around 1744.  It was a three-story tower 29 meters high.  On July 1877, the “campanario” was heavily damaged by a strong earthquake.  Reconstruction only began in 1833 under the supervision of an Augustinian friar, Fr. Jesse Alvarez.  Records show that between 1933-1881, another earthquake damaged this belfry. Msgr. Mariano Cuartero, the first bishop of Jaro, had this completely restored in 1881. However, the Jaro belfry suffered its third major destruction on January 25, 1948, when the earthquake named Lady Caycay swept through the entire Panay region. (Source: Wikipedia)
My next goal is to conquer this bell tower.
(Photo taken while roaming around the plaza on board a moving car)

View of the “Campanario” from the second level of the “Cathedral” at the shrine of the “Candelaria”

Digital image

Another unique feature of the Jaro Cathedral is the stairs attached to the front façade of the church over the main entrance.  This stairs lead to the shrine of Our Lady of the Candles (Nuestra Seňora dela Candelaria).


Filipino folktale recounts the statue's first appearance in 1587, where a group of fishermen found the statue floating in the Iloilo river yet could not lift it due to its heavy weight. Upon the decision of the fishermen to bring it to Jaro, the image became bearable to carry. In 1865, Jaro became an official diocese and a cathedral was constructed under the patronage of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.
The statue of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus had been recorded to grow in size through the ages. The statue had been placed at a small niche near the apex of the Church's middle spire, but as time passed by, the statue grew so large that it had to be relocated to the Church's balcony. Pope John Paul II personally crowned the Marian statue during his visit to Iloilo. Its the first and only Marian statue in the Philippines, personally crowned by a Pope (and a future saint). (Source: Wikipedia)
It’s quite challenging to take photo of the image of “Our Lady”.  There are usually people near/at the front of the image.   The sun was shining against the image when I had the chance to take photos thus the quality of this photo is not that good.



The feast of Our Lady of the Candles is every second of February.   It would be fun to experience the town fiesta and experience the 3C!

27/365: When In Iloilo: Going Korean and Dimsum

When you are done trying all the must eat Ilonggo foods and looking for some authentic cuisine, you might want to try going Korean and Chinese.

With that you may want to hear again my two cents worth of opinion when it comes to Korean and Dimsum dishes.


I’m not a Korean food lover for two reasons:
1st - I feel that all their foods smells the same (LOL)
2nd – I can’t remember their name’s (more LOL)

Not that I hate them.  It’s just that they are not the first on my list when dining out.   I usually dine Korean when a group of friends invited me and I can’t say no ha ha.  I do however discovered the best time to eat Korean food is – when you are drunk!  LOL but true!  I can assure you it’ll make you feel sober afterwards.

Well I discovered this one time coming from a bar-hopping-cocktail-mixing-on-our-throat-night.  We have real shots of whatever and leading home but feeling hungry while bottle of beers still on our hands.  It was again on a Dinagyang night and most foodie houseS in Smallvile was jam packed with people.  Suddenly this signage caught our eyes.

Catchy eh?
KGB = Korean Grill Barbeque located at Smallville Complex

The owner of this Korean resto was so accommodating that she personally supervised her crew while serving our table and even assisted in cooking the super spicy noodles right on our table.


Korea 1

The equally spicy “food” that for me just smells the same. 

Korea 2

By the time that we are done slurping our super hot/heat soup we are also all blowing our noses (LOL) and we all turned SOBER!  Try it!


Contrary however to how I consider Chinese food .  For me they taste how they smell and look.


I believed in the popular joke that Chinese food have lots of MSG (and seasoning) on them.  I thought that maybe that is the reason why they taste so yummy. 

But this Dimsum place inside the Robinson’s Mall claimed that they are authentic and their food is said to be “NO MSG”.   So we did try them. 


We discovered this place after meeting some people in the bank and doing some documentations in this area and we are so feeling hungry and we wanted to eat something heavy that will last until dinner because we have a full itinerary on that day.


The food that we had didn’t fail us –we were full after dining.  However we can’t tell if there’s really no MSG on the food because we don’t know how to do that ha ha.  But they are definitely are all delicious and the service is just fine. 

What I like most about Chinese food houses is that they always have a pot of tea to offer.  Drinking tea after a heavy dimsum meal makes you feel lighter.  For me it is better than desert!

Dimsum 1

There!  Two foodie house that you may want to try after you’re done trying all the delicious Ilonggo food!


26/365: When In Iloilo: The El Dorado Waterpark in Westown Hotel

Let’s talk about family hang-out this time!

Iloilo is known for its famous beaches which mostly are located outside the city.  If you wish to have a fun-filled swim-water-fun I am highly suggesting the inland resort El Dorado Water Park!


The El Dorado Waterpark is located inside the Smallville Complex and is also a part of the MO2 complex adjacent to the Westown Hotel along Diversion Road in Mandurriao District.


El Dorado is an ancient South American legend about a lost city of gold which is also the theme of this resort - Pre-Spanish American and Mayan.


El Dorado became one of the most visited waterpark in Iloilo City since it started operations in 2010.  It became popular due to its great Mayan temple inspired pools. 






Relying on my personal experience with this water park I can also say that is quite maintained and clean.


One good thing about this water park is that you can bring your own food.  But if you wish, you can also order from them freshly-cooked foods at reasonable prices.   The entrance fee during our visit in 2011 is at Php 100.00 (US$ 2.50) per person.

It also offers fine poolside rooms that you can use for relaxing or overnight stay. Room rate starts at PhP2,000.00 (US$47.00).


Since it is adjacent to the Westown Hotel and the Mo2 bar you can enjoy both fine dining or a drink while listening to one great live band!



We had one great day (and night) with family and friends at the El Dorado Waterpark!


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