Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Things to Do During the Rainy Season in Iloilo

ancient finds in Oton, Iloilo, Museo Iloilo, photo by Harold Agustin Ziegenhohn
It is official! The rainy season has set in in Iloilo. Muggy, sticky, humid and wet, that is what the air will be like for the next couple of months. Rainy season in Iloilo usually begins late of May or in early June to October or November where tropical storms can go hand-in-hand with the season. It generally rains in the afternoon and evening and very few days are rainy all day. You can enjoy some sightseeing activities or head to the beach in the morning. If it rains in the afternoon you can look for some indoor activities for you and your loved ones to enjoy.

It is actually a bit pleasant, and not a bad time to visit in the least. You will benefit from cheaper accommodation and a quiet atmosphere. Here are some ideas for things to do and places to visit during rainy season in Iloilo.

Visit Museums and Galleries

Rainy season can be fun in Iloilo because this is the time when you get to enjoy things indoor. Enjoying around Iloilo does not have to be always outside. You can make the most of a rainy day by visiting museums, galleries or other indoor attractions in Iloilo.

Museo Iloilo, Iloilo City Gallery, The UPV Art Gallery, UPV Cinematheque and the Sta. Barbara Centennial Museum are all worth visiting if you are interested in art and history.

Museo Iloilo at Bonifacio Drive, photo by Harold Agustin Ziegenhohn

Museo Iloilo in Bonifacio Drive, Iloilo City is one of the main tourist attractions of city and known as the First Government Constructed Museum Building in the Philippines. It is only a few meters away from the Department of Tourism Regional Office and the Iloilo Provincial Capitol. It exhibits a collection of Archeological, Historical, Ethnographical craft and tribal folk arts of Western Visayas. There are relics and antique religious images and relics donated by illustrious Ilonggos. Other valuable items include dated fossils, artifacts from sunken vessels, stone-age tools, pottery, trade wares from China, Annam and Siam, burial jars and coffins and rare photographs and mementos from World War II. Present day artworks are also on exhibit. The museum opens from Monday to Saturday (except Holidays) at 8:00 am to 11:00 am and 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm with an entrance fee at P15.00 for students and P20.00 for adults.

Iloilo City Gallery, photo by Harold Agustin Ziegenhohn

The Iloilo City Gallery in Plaza Libertad is located at the ground floor of the 7-storey City Hall Building, was opened to the public in June 2012. The gallery showcases Ilonggos’ good governance and cultural excellence highlighting the city’s awards, famed festivals, unique and creative arts and crafts, giant development projects, and a virtual tour of the metropolis long-standing legacy and vibrant future as Premier City by 2015. The gallery is open to the public for free every Monday to Friday during official working hours. For more information, please call (033) 3331111.

The University of the Philippines in the Visayas Art Gallery at the historic Arellano Building (former Iloilo City Hall) or the main building of the city campus in General Luna or Infante Streets, Iloilo City prides itself as the only art gallery in the region to have exhibited the works of several national artists such as Joya, Francisco, Legaspi, Luz, and Ang. It also feature works of popular Ilonggo artists such as Defensor, Ferraris, Orig, Cabalfin, Amora, Decierdo, Sanares, Belgica, Genodepa, Salmon, and Querubin. The gallery also serves as a venue for several visual art exhibitions, small-group art workshops, book launchings, and art lectures. Or more information, please contact (033) 337 9159 or email:upv.culture.and.arts@facebook.com.

UPV Cinematheque, photo by Harold Agustin Ziegenhohn
The UPV Cinematheque Film Museum at the University of the Philippines in the Visayas, city campus in General Luna or Infante Streets, Iloilo City is dedicated to the collection and exhibition of film-related materials like movie props, equipment, posters, books, souvenirs and toys. The film museum along with Cinema Exmundo is a collaboration project between Cinema Exmundo and the University of the Philippines Visayas Alumni Relations Office. It is as a non-profit repertory theater for use by students and alumni as well as the community. It was one of several projects the U.P. Visayas launched in 2008 to commemorate the University of the Philippines’ Centennial Year. The museum is open from Mondays till Fridays, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm. For more information, please call (033) 5091501 or Email: cinematheque@upv.edu.ph

The Sta. Barbara Centennial Museum and Information Center beside the municipal hall is a beautiful introduction to this town’s rich cultural heritage. It features irreplaceable historic artifacts of local hero, General Martin Delgado. It also includes paintings, furniture, decorative arts, and costume collections as well as maps, newspaper volumes, government documents. When in the area, you can visit the Iloilo Golf and Country Club and the Santa Barbara Roman Catholic Church and Convent. It opens Monday to Friday from 8 am till 5 pm with an entrance fee of P10.00 for students and P20.00 for adults. For more information, please call (033) 5239955. Also accepts visitors during Saturdays by appointment.

Go Underground

Rainy days are also great for exploring caves where you will not be aware of the weather conditions. The Bulabog Puti-an Natural Park in Barangay Moroboro in Dingle, Iloilo can be enjoyed as a day visit to the area since one does not have to go on extensive trail blazing. It has a land area of 834.033 hectares covering five of Dingle's 33 barangays. Combining trekking and cave exploration, the trip offers a rare opportunity to get close to one of Iloilo’s rarest limestone rock formation in Panay excluding Guimaras. It was designated as a National Park through Congressional Bill No. 1651, and such is considered a "nationally significant area." The centerpiece of the park is its 33 known and named caves where most are undeveloped, so there are no lights, stairs, nor walkways. Hike up and go cave exploration while enjoying the gorgeous view of the park over its wild and luscious forests. The municipality of Dingle is 37 kilometers away from Iloilo City. To get to the town, vans are available at the Northern Central Iloilo Transport Terminal, Inc. in Barangay Tagbak, Jaro, Iloilo City. For more information, please contact, Mr. Dane Dizon, Municipal Tourism Officer at 09477424341.

The City of Passi, Iloilo also boasts of 16 caves and offers both self-exploring and guided opportunities. Whichever method of exploring the caves you choose, you are bound to be fascinated by these amazing underground world in the heart of Passi City. To get to Passi City, busses are available daily at the Northern Central Iloilo Transport Terminal, Inc. in Barangay Tagbak, Jaro, Iloilo City. For more information, please contact Mrs. Mae Pojol-Buenaflor - City Tourism Officer at 09213543537.

Head to a Spa

A pampering spa treatment is a great way to spend your time and you will surely enjoy it even more if you know you're not missing out on time in the sun. With calming music, great smells and lots of massages, you can regain your inner peace and come back refreshed and relaxed to your everyday life. Going to the spa is a fun and relaxing experience. For the best experience possible do your research and take a friend or loved one along on your first trip. That way you can learn, laugh and relax together. One should seriously consider visiting a massage spa on a regular basis to remain stress free and healthy.

While away the Hours in Café

The city of Iloilo has some fantastic cafes and if you can find one in a good location for people watching, you are set for the afternoon. Most cafes offer free Wi-Fi so you can use the opportunity to catch up on Facebook or even get some work done while you wait for the rain to stop. They can also be a great place to meet friendly Ilonggos and get some good recommendations for local sightseeing.

Shop your Heart Out

There is something for everyone and shopaholics can easily spend a few rainy days here without getting bored. If it is pouring down and you want to stay inside, there are shopping malls that are easily reached by a taxi ride, depending on where you are staying.

So these are some of the activities that you and your loved ones can enjoy during the rainy season in Iloilo.  Aside from these you can also create your own fun and exciting activities. Rainy season does not have to ruin your day or trip. Just come prepared and you will be fine.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hibotkan Rock Sanctuary: Banate’s Most Popular Excursion

CPU sophomore tourism students with their  BBRMCI guides during their snorkeling activity in Hibotkan, Banate, Iloilo for TUMANDOK 2012, photo by Nene Paguntalan

Many coastal and marine attractions in the province of Iloilo have the potential to provide crucial ecotourism positioning for the region. Some destinations are already developed. However, protection and promotion remain constraints.

Outdoor recreational programs in the northern towns in Iloilo have gained wide popularity among domestic travelers, especially students and young professionals. With its warm and crystal-clear waters, it is home to some of Iloilo’s best snorkeling hot spots. Some sites have shallow waters and others plunge down to great depths, but wherever you go in the area, beautiful coral gardens provide abodes for hundreds of brightly colored tropical fish. 

as seen only during low tide, Hibotkan is a haven for the snorkeling tourists, photo by Nene Paguntalan

When it comes to getting wet and interacting with the underwater world, your adventure begins with a relaxing motorized boat ride to your first snorkeling stop to the beautiful and exotic Hibotkan Rock Sanctuary in Banate, Iloilo.

Teeming with life, the sanctuary covers 25 hectares but only 1 hectare is exposed to the sun during low tide. There 16 families of corals are found with 34 species being observed. The corals found in the sanctuary are a precious resource for Banate because of their beauty and biodiversity. They provide shelter for a wide variety of marine life and for the community with recreation. It is also abundant with tropical fishes.  It is found in between the municipal waters of town and Guimaras Strait and is a paradise for tourists who enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving and underwater photography. 

underwater photo taken in Hibotkan in Banate, Iloilo, photo courtesy of BBRMCI

Hibotkan forms part of the Marine Protected Areas found in the towns of Anilao and Barotac Nuevo and Viejo as members of the Banate Baywide Resource Management Council Incorporated or BBRMCI.

The BBRMCI is an active Council formed in 1996 supported by the Iloilo Provincial Government that promotes and implements programs on Coastal Resource Management. The declaration of these areas as protected via Municipal Order 001-1999 allows the protection of marine resources as well as the regulation of fishing operations and other activities in the area. It is also an educational and outdoor recreational council that actively supports the ecotourism program of the province with a view to building greater awareness and commitment to environmental protection. 

coral garden in Hibotkan, Banate, photo courtesy of BBRMCI

Before visitors could enjoy snorkeling in the area there, they would have to take a 3-kilometer motorized boat-ride from the Banate Seaport going to the Marine Sanctuary. From there, they will enjoy viewing the magnificent underwater world. This excursion is a truly unique and enjoyable experience.

Watch and listen as the professional staff from BBRMCI help you with your snorkeling skills as well as provide helpful information regarding the marine life and environment in the area. Complete snorkeling gears may also be rented out through the office.

CPU sophomore tourism students with their BBRMCI instructors explore the seas of Banate,
photo by Nene Paguntalan

The Iloilo Provincial Tourism Office is taking a district approach to tourism marketing by combining promotional efforts and is now acknowledged as sharing popularity unattainable by individual destinations. It has improved the growth in destination awareness with greater media exposure; and, improve product positioning with an effective branding and allegiance building among neighboring towns to rapidly penetrate its target markets.

taken in Hibotkan, Banate, photo courtesy of BBRMCI

So if you are feeling adventurous, hold one yourself! It is an experience you will never forget. There are lots of good places that have become a popular spot with local folks. Surprisingly, there are a number of inland resorts right around the poblacion area if one would plan to stay overnight. Opportunities to link the niche snorkeling markets with other land-based attractions have already been explored.

Banate is about 50 kilometers north from Iloilo City and offers good tourist attractions. To get to Banate, one can take a bus or van at Tagbak Terminal in Jaro, Iloilo City. For more information, please contact Miss Roselle Bactung at 09164002420 or at 3620068 or call the Office of Culture, Arts, History and Tourism of the Iloilo Provincial Government at telefax (033) 3384910.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Experience Real Island Village Life in Homestay Barangay Lantangan, Carles

island boy in Barangay Lantangan, Gigantes Sur, Carles, Iloilo, photo by Bombette G. Marin

Have you ever been interested to stay in a Homestay environment when you travel around, especially in Iloilo? With Homestay, you will be able to travel within a very reasonable budget and learn new things such as the culture, habits, and customs of your host.

For many people especially foreign tourists, homestay is the best way to take part in cross-cultural understanding. Especially in Iloilo, where culture is diverse and customs they have not seen, encountered, or experienced, experiencing homestay is the best choice.

Lantangan shoreline, Carles, Iloilo, photo by Bombette G. Marin

Vacation in the Philippines from the months of March till May is an ideal time to escape and enjoy a peaceful and fun filled time not only for yourself but with your loved ones. Iloilo is an ideal vacation destination known for its culture, incredible scenery and warm and friendly people and choosing to stay in the area is a wonderful and convenient way for you to experience what this magnificent province and city has to offer.

Most often, tourists who choose to live in commercialized areas miss out on a truly enriching experience that can be found in the rural areas. Only a homestay experience gives travelers a real, wholesome glimpse into what truly makes Iloilo unique.

Although Homestay is a concept not popular in Iloilo and is seldom found anywhere in the area; it is an experiment of the Northern Iloilo Growth Corridor of the Iloilo Provincial Government to help tourists especially backpackers to experience the real village way of life in the northern island villages.  The area offers accommodation for visitors under the Homestay concept enabling them to live village life fist-hand.  This program is run by private home and resort owners in the area.

serene beach area of Lantangan, Carles, Iloilo, photo by Bombette G.Marin

The island-beaches of Carles is one of the most popular beachside towns in Iloilo. Here is where you will be able to enjoy the sun, sea and sand as well as affordable accommodation around. For those of you who are traveling on a budget and would like to stay in proper homes instead of rooms, Homestay in the area offers a good choice. This is where you will be staying not far from the beach while enjoying a convenient place.

Visitors housed with their host families in the island villages, which will allow them to capture the real essence of island-village life in a new and distinct way.  You will surely be mesmerized by the simple lives of the village people, living in traditional houses.  The accommodations are provided and managed by their respective owners, which means each house defines the owner’s personality and offers a different perspective into their village life.

Presently, there are 19 houses available, with a total of 36 rooms are at hand.  The meals, planned in advance are prepared by the hosts, which consists of local dishes for visitors. 

Lantangan playground, photo by Bombette G. Marin
The sun-kissed beaches await you in Barangay Lantangan, Gigntes Sur which is among the populated island beaches in Carles. Homestay in the area provides rooms only within walking distance to the beach. From here, it is located in the vicinity of major public amenities in the island like sari-sari stores and eating places. Rates start from P150.00 per person per night. Getting around the island is by single motorcycle charging P15.00 per person.

Staying at the Lantangan Homestay would allow you to set base before heading out to the waters and beach side and where you can visit the nearby island attractions. With beautiful sea in the foreground and rigged hills as the back drop, this island-barangay is a perfect retreat for those who wish to experience Homestay in the island. 

photo by Bombette G. Marin

The municipality of Carles is 146 kilometers away or a 3-hour bus or van ride from the city. To get to Barangay Lantangan, Gigantes Sur, one can take an hour and 45 minutes motorized boat ride from Estancia Feeder Port at a fee of P75.00 per passenger. To get to Estancia, one must take an air-conditioned bus at Tagbak Terminal in Jaro, Iloilo City. Public passenger motorized boats ply from and to the island only once a day, normally at around 1 p.m. Motorized boat good for 45 and 80 persons can be privately arranged. For more information regarding Homestay in the area, please contact Deocadez Homestay c/o Allan Deocadez at 09305117805, Gelvezon Homestay c/o Lanie Gelvezon at 09103520349, Nash Homestay c/o Nea Lumontad at 09128275524. For more information on Homestay in other parts of Carles, please call the Office of Culture, Arts, History and Tourism of the Iloilo Provincial Government at telefax (033) 3384910.

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