Sunday, August 11, 2013

Second District: Iloilo’s Eco-Cultural Destination

It does not need to be said that the Second District of Iloilo province is an area with natural beauty; gorgeous mountain ranges, dense forest, adventure activities as well as arts and music. It draws on its legacy of eco-cultural adventure and provides its visitors with opportunities to explore the area with a sense of discovery and wonder. The Second District presents them with wonderful traveling opportunities and culturally enriching adventures with minimum impact on its fragile environment.


One of Iloilo’s most scenic and adventure spot is the municipality of Leon.  An old town 28.2 kilometers away from the city is full of fun. With a landscape dominated by mountains, the area offers sweeping downhill and uphill trails, from technical mountainous and remote terrain to surfaces suitable for family trips. The crown jewel of its attractions is the pine-clad BUCARI. Popularly called as "The Little Baguio of Iloilo," it is surrounded by mist-covered mountains with a subtropical highland climate. It is situated in the highest portion of Leon situated 1,200-meter-above sea level. Declared as an Eco-tourist zone, Bucari is 10,432.875-hectares. The cool climate is fitting for growing rice and other high-value produce such as fruits and vegetables. Farmers grow their crops along the hills and mountainside in terraces. The tour can be relaxing where visitors will surely have fun and take time to take photos and enjoy the fantastic scenery Leon has to offer. The town offers a plethora of activities to its visitors that include trekking, biking, rock climbing, cave exploration and swimming to its falls. To get to Leon, one can take a jeepney or van in Barangay Desamparados at the Jaro Public Mark. The upland barangay of Bucari can be reached by jeepney at the Leon public plaza on a scheduled trip every day.

Leon Church, photo by Jun Fuerte
The Baroque architectural design of ST. CATHERINE OF ALEXANDRIA PARISH in Leon was once considered as the biggest stone edifice in the whole of Panay. The construction started in 1869, three years after the town was transferred from Camando, the original townsite. The interior was Renaissance-Romanesque in style. It measures 100 feet high and 300 feet long and covering almost two streets of the town, namely Sta. Catalina and Sto. Niño. The walls were three and a half feet thick and five feet in each post is elevated to more than 32 feet to the roof. The rocks used in the construction were quarried from neighboring sitios.


A municipality of unspoiled natural wonders, Alimodian has pristine rainforests, hills, lakes and waterfalls, a perfect place for a superb nature holiday. The most popular is its highland community known as the "SEVEN CITIES." Promoted as an eco-tourism site, it is coined from its seven clustered barangays: Tabug, Cabacanan Proper, Cabacanan Rizal, Dao, Lico, Manasa and Umingan. It is home to attractions like Tinagong Danao, Agua Colonia, Umingan Plateau, Ibagat Spring, Farm Terraces, Maslog Falls, Bato Dungok and Oyang Cave. The area is also known as the town’s rice granary and producing high-value commercial crops such as cauliflowers, carrots, Baguio beans and sayote. This historical town is located on the southwest portion of Iloilo.  It has an area measuring to 14,482 hectares majority of it devoted to agriculture. It is subdivided into 51 barangays grouped into 9 districts.

Alimodian Church, photo by JV Perez (PALI)
The cornerstone of ST.THOMAS OF VILLANOVA PARISH in Alimodian was laid in December 5, 1859. It was finished in 1864 and was formally opened to the public for worship on December 22 of the same year. The construction of the convent was completed in 1868. It was said that the belfry of the church was one of the tallest and the most beautiful in Panay and Negros. The convent of the church was completed in 1868 and was just as big as the church though longer in length. The stones used in the construction of the church were taken in Camando (Leon). The 1948 earthquake known as “Lady Kaykay” rocked the church, its convent and belfry collapsed. The ruined church was renovated an opened for public worship in 1951.


One of the greatest ways to enjoy Santa Barbara is to visit its golf course, known as the oldest golf course in the Philippines built in 1907. The scenic beauty of the town is a natural complement to the game. Fun and challenging par 70 on 5,248 meters rolling hills with well-manicured lawns boasts an amazing golfing experience around every turn. This 18-hole golf course is only 16 kilometers or about 20 minutes by car from the city. Amenities include a Clubhouse, restaurant, Tea houses on the course and Practice area Caddies. There is always a new reason to enjoy a day of golf and fun times with family and friends at the ILOILO GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB, an ideal way to enjoy the outdoors and the company of others.

Sta. Barbra Church and Convent, photo by Norman Posecion (USA-CAP)
The Filipino-Baroque colonial structures of the SANTA BARBARA CHURCH AND CONVENT were constructed in 1845 and finished in 1886. The huge stones that were used as post, walls and floors of the church and convent were called bato piedra sileria and piedra tsina. Made of adobe, coral stone and red bricks, the church and convent served as the headquarters for the Ilonggo Revolutionary Forces under General Martin Delgado in 1898. It was declared as a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Institute.

BOBBIN-LACE AND EMBOIDERY-MAKING is a livelihood project of WUTHLE Inc. (Women United Through Handcrafted Lace and Embroidery) at the Western Visayas Sanitarium in Barangay Inangayan, Sta. Barbara. The lace textile made by braiding and twisting lengths of thread attached on bobbins. It may be made with coarse or fine threads. The woven pattern is held in place with pins set in a lace pillow, the placement of the pins is determined by a pattern or by pricking on the pillow. The products made by WUTHLE can be customized in terms of the materials used, colors combination, size and print or design.  The facility is open to the public and visitors can see how these simple threads are made into delicate works of art.


The Barangays of Jibao-an and Pandac in Pavia has a thriving POTTERY-MAKING industry that has since provided economic benefits and had improved the way of life of their people. They are known for their pottery skills using the traditional method. They are known for their pots locally known as “coron”, firewood-fired stoves or “sig-ang,” drinking jars or “banga,” and water containers or “tadyaw.” Open pit firing method is applied. The finished products are then transferred to the public markets in the city and to other markets of its neighboring towns.


There is no better way to get to know Leganes than through their intense spirituality and religious faith to San Vicente Ferrer, the central figure of the PALAPAK, a popular practice among devotees where the base of a small statue of Saint Vincent Ferrer is pressed on the head of a devotee hoping for a miraculous cure from the winged saint. Many who suffer from various sickness and even those with physical disabilities are amongst those faithful hoping that a miracle might happen through St. Vincent Ferrer’s intercession. Wonders and miraculous healing have been attributed by the faithful to their vow of devotion to the patron saint.

PANGAYPOT or salt-gathering is the means of livelihood of the people of Barangays Napnud, Gua-an and MV Hechanova in Leganes. They are known as the prime producer of fresh sea-salt in Iloilo.  In the summer, salt-beds are a favorite attraction of the town due to the harvest activities where people gather around their salt beds. The salt making process is simple in nature, requiring only physical strength, as it demands extensive toils. Leveling the sand, the initial part of the procedure, takes place in the early morning, between 5.00 to 6.00a.m. to prepare the pans. Seawater is then collected through pails and poured into the pans. A pan of 10 by 10 meters requires two-hours pouring by two people to get it fully filled.

Iloilo Province has been promoting its natural and cultural attractions in order to attract tourists, with an emphasis on “eco-cultural” sights and activities. These are expected to attract well-heeled visitors who spend more and have less of an impact on the environment. For more information, please contact the Office of Culture, Arts, History and Tourism, Iloilo Province at (033) 3384910.

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