Monday, September 29, 2014

Lexter Badana: Designing Confidence and Attitude for Hablon Moda

Ilonggos have always been fashion conscious and up-to-date on the current and ruling styles and trends. And the local fashion industry is constantly acquiring new successes with new designers being introduced or local models making it big in Manila or abroad.  Ilonggo fashion is at its peak during the last quarter of every year when fashion seems to be one of the main priorities among the young generation.

Fashion does not revolve around trends solely.  It is all about looking the best by maintaining a balance between the trends and your unique style. Lexter Baldisimo Badana is one fast-rising fashion designer embodies this idea when it comes to designing.

Badana, 29, from Roxas City Capiz does not have that flamboyant, pretentious, superstar persona so often associated with fashion designers. He comes across as down-to-earth, sincere and really clever.

Badana had a formidable creative and innovative mind for fashion. As a kid, he enjoys designing houses and furniture. His interest in structures and colors eventually led him to designing prom dresses for his friends during his teens. He then had the opportunity of designing the whole entourage for a friend’s wedding. However, the designer considered his mother his most challenging and favourite client.

He had his first solo fashion show during the 5th Indigenous Fiber Fashion Fair way back 2012 in SM City Iloilo where he featured hablon pieces inspired by the fishing villages in his beloved hometown in Capiz.  His male collection with his lone all-hablon bridal dress was an instant hit among viewers.

Badana describes his style as simply classic and versatile – sometimes sophisticated and casual, other times modern and edgy, or sexy, elegant and fun. His creations always come about from combining influences from music, subcultures, art and lifestyle, rather than following trends.  Badana represents the beauty of the simplicity of things.

The designer always considers his client's needs when I do his designs. He is very particular with fitting and construction instead of embellishments. He believes that nothing is more beautiful than a woman who is comfortable with what she wears. He wants his woman to feel sexy but very classy. A woman who is feels confident when wearing a Badana outfit.

Badana loves challenging himself. He firmly believes that in fashion, your best competition is yourself. Presently he is in Manila taking Patternmaking Courses at Slims Fashion and Arts School.

Lexter Badana will open the 7th Indigenous Fiber Fashion Fair on October 5 at 5:30 p.m. along with Miagao LGU at 4:30 p.m. October 6 is Ian Jorda at 5:30 p.m.; October 7 will feature a Fiber Parade with the candidates of Miss RPT Amnesty 2014 and Binky Pitogo at 5:30 p.m.; October 8 will showcase the collections of John Montinola at 5:30 p.m.; October 9 at 4:30 will have Hablon Duenasanon by Duenas-LGU; and October 11 at 5:30 p.m. will highlight the collections of Joseph Aloysius Montelibano. The event is brought to you by the Iloilo Provincial Government through the Provincial Tourism Office, SM City Iloilo and DOT-VI and also brought to you by Megaworld Iloilo Business Park, GMA-6 Iloilo and the Daily Guardian.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Jun-G Candelario: Flooding Iloilo with his Vision for Kagayon

Jun-G Candelario with muse, Ria Bolivar
One of the mainstays of the annual Indigenous Fiber Fashion Fair, Jun-G Bayona Candelario has gone far from being a festival costume designer in his hometown in Lemery, Iloilo to one of the city’s most-sought after full-fledged fashion designer.

The less flamboyant and soft-spoken Jun-G as he is fondly called, made his debut as a fashion designer when he was 22. Using his knowledge in basic dress-making as an elective during his high school days at Lemery National High School, he showcased his very first gowns and festival attires in local pageants where he has made his mark and has emerged as an entrepreneur to reckon with. The years since then in between had been wonderful for him.

In 2011, the persevering Candelario moved to Iloilo and in those years he learnt the art of doing business even whilst stamping his own creative identity, maintaining a unique individuality through his designs, learning a bit of math and accounting, and, of course, how to make profits.

Supermodel Ria Bolivar in hablon gown
As a graduate of BS Architecture at the University of San Agustin, his gowns show classic architectural lines, albeit with splashes of bright colors evident in most gowns, heavily beaded empire-waist dresses, strappy shifts inspired by the scalloped roof of old houses and buildings. His designs have touches of Victorian and yet is Bohemian and carefree.

His first-ever solo show in 2012 for the 5th Indigenous Fiber Fashion Fair at the event center of SM City Iloilo showcased hablon and polyhemp long gowns with feathers and glittering bead embellishments abound emphasizing a strong shoulder. His collections left the audience wanting for more.

Joining fashion shows is like a creative outburst for this very humble fashion designer. He simply loves experimenting and making out-of-the-box stuff. His designs have some sort of commercial viability even if it is on ramp.

Ria Bolivar in polyhemp gown for 

Jun-G Candelario
Presently, he has his own solo design studio at Reginaville Building, Jalandoni Street, Jaro, Iloilo City. But he has set his eyes on marketing his designs to reach more customers not only here in Iloilo but even going globally. He hoped to target customers who would wear his designs because they are modern and edgy and yet remind them of his cultural roots.

The 7th Indigenous Fiber Fashion Fair is a Trade Fair, Demonstration and Fashion Show event held at the Event Center of SM City Iloilo on October 5-11, 2014. October 5 at 4:30 p.m. will feature a Fiber Parade by Miagao-LGU and Lexter Badana at 5:30 p.m.; October 6 will have Ian Jorda at 5:30 p.m.; October 7 will feature a Fiber Parade with the candidates of Miss RPT Amnesty 2014 and Binky Pitogo at 5:30 p.m.; October 8 will showcase the collections of John Montinola at 5:30 p.m.; October 9 at 4:30 will have Hablon Duenasanon by Duenas-LGU; and October 11 at 5:30 p.m. will highlight the collections of Joseph Aloysius Montelibano. The event is brought to you by the Iloilo Provincial Government through the Provincial Tourism Office, DOT-VI, SM City Iloilo, Megaworld Iloilo Business Park, GMA-6 Iloilo and the Daily Guardian.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Unique Aesthetics for Anyag by Binky Pitogo

The work of women artisans in Barangay Salngan in Oton will be interwoven with winning designs by fast-rising fashion designer Bianca Celeste Lavilla Pitogo. Binky, as what she is fondly called will showcase her all-hablon collection in her first solo fashion show entitled ANYAG for the 7th Indigenous Fiber Fashion Fair on October 7, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. at the Event Center of SM City Iloilo.

The 28-year old petite designer has a very interesting introduction to fashion design.  She has a Certificate course in Clothing Technology at the very prestigious School of Fashion and the Arts (SoFA), a design Institute in Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City, Manila that specializes in design education. Major design schools in Manila have seen an influx of students from the provinces, partly through their own recruitment efforts in cities and provinces with rapidly developing fashion industries, like Cebu, Davao and Iloilo, and partly because of changing attitudes in those provinces and cities about fashion careers. The SoFA method of education is delivered by highly accomplished and trained industry practitioners. She started designing ready to wear pieces when she was in her early twenties. The clothes she designed were then sold online through Multiply.

Pitogo’s clothes speak of elegance, confidence and dauntlessness without trying too hard. Her clothes make her clients look effortlessly chic. She loves experimenting with beautiful printed fabrics mixed and matched or with a combination of different textured details. Binky believes that what a woman wears says a lot about her.

Combining the right color, pattern, material, or fabric is this designer’s secret for women who want to be very feminine and for those who wants to be somewhat feminine. Pitogo loves mixing feminine pieces with edgier items to help bring balance to a certain look. This keeps the overall outfit from looking too sweet or too grungy. At times, it can be a difficult balance to manage but if put together it can create a personal style.

Getting public acceptance and respect is her greatest challenge.  And so far, Ilonggos have been very supportive and try out her very fashionable pieces.

Know more about our featured designer and her clothes by visiting Binkydoodles by Binky Pitogo at GA Valencia Building, 10 Osmena Street, Barangay Sta. Filomena, Arevalo, Iloilo City or contact at 09396148682 or 09274830054.

The 7th Indigenous Fiber Fashion Fair willhave daily fashion shows featuring Lexter Badana on October 5; Ian Jorda on October 6; John Montinola on October 8; Jun-g Candelario on October 9; and Joseph Aloysius Montelibano on October 11. The event is brought to you by the Iloilo Provincial Government, the Provincial Tourism Office, the Department of Tourism-VI, SM City Iloilo, Megaworld Iloilo Business Park, GMA-6 Iloilo, DTI and the Daily Guardian.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Habol Aninipay features Ian Jorda

Ian Herediano Jorda is a fashion designer, foodie, and a passionate supporter of all things related to sustainability. Jorda has a broad range of interests spanning art, fashion, travel and wellness. A graduate of BS Hotel and Restaurant Management at Central Philippine University in 2004, Jorda had a comprehensive career as a hotelier, seafarer with Costa in Europe and a Professor. Presently, he is working as a Creative Director for TMX Travel and Marketing Experts at the ground floor of Amigo Mall.

Jorda brings the scope of his experience and passions to his designs. Having a promising fashion career since 2004, Jorda’s fashion portfolio includes corporate attire, bridal design, resort wear development and visual merchandising.  Subsequently Jorda added evening wear to his line, and several of his efforts showed up on countless local and national pageants.

Jorda also has a passion for vintage and Renaissance design resulting to a joyfully grand and personal style. He loves designing softer clothes for women that look great for slender bodies. He has passion for great surface ornamentation.

photo by Jojo Villarina
He appreciates the art of fashion and wholeheartedly believes that celebrating beauty can come at a very affordable price. He understands that the dresses he designs must be catered to suit his client’s personality, be it traditional, romantic, or avante-garde, he can come up with a design that will suit his clients’ taste at a price they can afford.

Jorda is one of six Ilonggo designers featured for this this year’s Indigneous Fiber Fashion Fair, an annual tourism event that aims to support and preserve artisan cooperatives while spreading the beauty of handmade, eco fashion.

Given the huge amount of design talent here in Iloilo, the annual Indigenous Fiber Fashion Fair is an excellent fashion platform for Ilonggo designers to participate in. Through this, the Provincial Government is also helping the fashion community in Iloilo, and Iloilo has a lot of people in the fashion community helping each other out.

photo by Jojo Villarina

The 8th Indigenous Fiber Fashion Fair on October 5-11, 2014 at SM City Event Center will feature Miagao-LGU in Fiber Parade at 4:30 p.m. and Lexter Badana in Hablon Moda at 5:30 p.m. on October 5; Ian Jorda in Habol Aninipay at 5:30 p.m. on October 6; Fiber Parade by Miss RPT Amnesty 2014 at 4:30 p.m. and Binky Pitogo in Anyag at 5:30 p.m. on October 7; John Montinolais in Habol Ilonggo at 5:30 p.m.; Jun-G Candelarion in Kagayon at 5:30 p.m. on October 9; and Joseph Aloysius Montelibano in Garboso at 5:30 p.m. on October 11. The event is brought to you by the Iloilo Provincial Government through the Provincial Tourism Office, SM City Iloilo, DOT-VI, GMA-6 Iloilo, DTI and The Daily Guardian. For more information, please call the Office of Culture, Arts, History and Tourism at (033) 3384910.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Integrating Weaving in Rural Tourism

photo by Ray Tabafunda

Rural Tourism works with communities and individuals to develop tourism systems where the locals and rural life patterns form the foundation of the touristic experience.

It is place-based and includes a central theme or focus. It also combines natural ecosystems and human communities in the visitor experience making it authentic because it reflects the reality of rural life patterns which become the attraction where the ordinary for the host community becomes the extraordinary for the visitor. The elders in the community provide the background. Education of both the visitor and the host is a cornerstone of the experience. And with this, partnerships are formed within the community between parties interested in providing a tourism experience.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

Weaving plays a role in the history of weaving communities in Miagao, Oton, Igbaras, Badiangan and Duenas which articulates social relationships and continues to play a role in their culture.

weavers in the 18th century. photo courtesy of University of Wisconsin archives

Weavers, mostly women, have the chance to improve their quality of life and uphold the customs and traditions that shape their identity. By applying skills that are steeped in the old ways, women weave new opportunities and culture and commerce merge for development. Unlike in many western countries where generally little importance is placed on women’s work with textiles, in Ilonggo culture, cloth plays a key role in social and ritual life and also in some instances, assigning women’s standing in communities.

photo courtesy of University of Wisconsin archives

Our hand-loom textiles were highly regarded and have been sought after as trade items in the late 18th century. Commercial production of hand-woven textiles has been an important element of the Ilonggo economy. Ilonggo textiles were originally utilitarian blankets for use as wrap-around, dresses and similar purposes.  

women in pina , abacca fabric and jus. iphoto courtesy of University of Wisconsin archives

Our patadyong, pina, jusi, polyhemp and hablon fabrics have long been prized for their quality and beauty. The ancient tradition of hand-loom weaving in Iloilo has been kept alive to the modern day, and weaving workshops are helping Ilonggos in remote communities to improve their living conditions. The effect of these workshops is to help to keep traditional textile techniques alive and well, and they also provide meaningful employment to women in poor communities.

By the end of 1980’s till mid 1990’s, traditional weaving skills were in danger of disappearing from other weaving communities around Iloilo. Some of the earliest activities supported by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) focused on helping weavers recover or improve traditional weaving skills, learn to use natural dyes, and assist in obtaining looms and natural fibers.

In the year 2000, Fiber Fairs incorporating exhibits, demonstrations and pocket fashion shows have provided a better venue the weaving industry in Iloilo. The more proficient weavers taught those just learning, and the weaving knowledge of the elders was recorded, preserved and passed on. Adults and children both were encouraged to wear and take pride in using local fabrics in their everyday dresses, further driving the motivation to produce new weavings. These activities have continued with the addition more weavers and more wooden looms.

Weaving communities have been a special project since the founding of the Indigenous Fashion Fiber Fair in 2007.  Organized by the Provincial Tourism Office of the Provincial Government of Iloilo in partnership with SM City Iloilo, weaving workshops in weaving towns were given looms. Because of this, some local government units have built weaving shelters where weavers come together on a regular basis to learn, work, and give support to one another. Some have organized themselves into an association where they govern their cooperative collectively and elect their own leaders to manage finances and decision-making. This structure encourages weavers to develop managerial and marketing skills.

Know more about the weaving communities of Miagao, Oton, Igbaras, Badiangan and Duenas on the 8th Indigenous Fiber Fashion Fair on October 5-11, 2014 at the event center of SM City Iloilo. The fair is brought to you by the Provincial Tourism Office, SM City Iloilo, DOT-VI, DTI, GMA-6 Iloilo and The Daily Guardian.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fiber Fashion Fair: Showcasing Iloilo Indigenous Fabrics

photo courtesy of Aswang Photography, designs by Ian Jorda, Hair and Make-up by John Montinola

For centuries, Ilonggo weavers have used local fibers from pineapple, Manila hemp, banana and palm to weave fabrics. On October 5-11, 2014, weaving communities from Miagao, Oton, Igbaras, Duenas and Badiangan, Iloilo will showcase their hand-woven fabrics at the 8th Indigenous Fiber Fashion Fair at the event center of SM City Iloilo, the longest-running and the only one of its kind in Iloilo.

photography courtesy of Aswang Photography, designs by Ian Jorda, 
Hair and Make-up by John Montinola

Organized by the Office of Culture, Arts, History and Tourism of the Iloilo Provincial Government and SM City Iloilo, the Indigenous Fiber Fashion Fair annually promotes local talent in the use and design of local fibers. This collaboration weaves together the artisans, local designers, and most importantly you, our future advocates.

photography courtesy of Aswang Photography, design by Ian Jorda,
Hair and Make-up by John Montinola

Popular fashion designers such as Lexter Badana, Binky Pitogo, Ian Jorda, John Montinola and Joseph Aloysius Montelibano will showcase their masterpieces made from local fabrics such as hablon, patadyong and polyhemp in a fashion show and trade exhibit.

The week-long trade event will feature Ilonggo exhibitors engaged in the production and design of local fabrics and hand-woven handicrafts will start on October 6-11. A daily weaving demonstration will be the centrepiece of the trade event. Fashion shows at the Event Center every 5:30 in the afternoon starting October 5-11, 2014.

hablon mini dress by Ian Jorda, Hair and make-up by John Montinola,
 photography courtesy of Aswang Photography

The event aims at supporting and preserving artisan cooperatives while spreading the beauty of handmade, eco fashion. The project hopes to open investment opportunities especially in the production of these fabrics. It also aims to challenge and encourage Ilonggos and local designers to use these local fibers in their wardrobes.

The Indigenous process of making elegant eco-friendly fashion starts with the specific skills of the individual artisan.  The traditional weaving skills of artisans passed down for thousands of years lay the ground work for these beautiful textiles that employ traditional weaving techniques. Threads are placed on wooden looms, often in an artisan's home work space, where they hand weave the fabric as their ancestors before them.

patadyong and hablon mini dress by Ian Jorda, Make-up by John Montinola,
photography by Aswang Photography

Developing a local product that is globally competitive is important for Iloilo. For the last eight years, our founding principles have helped to enrich the path for eco-fashion and sustainability trends of today. With the continued support and cooperation between the government agencies and private sectors, The event will continue to translate local skills into a sustainable market; equip our local weavers with trends especially in the global market and will give opportunities for more fashion designers to showcase their designs.  

For more information about the event, please contact the Office of Culture, Arts, History and Tourism at (033) 3384910 or at 09205603018.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Threads to Miagao: The First Hablon Festival

Supermodel Ria Bolivar of Dumangas, Iloilo in Ram Silva hablon gown

The First Hablon Festival in Miagao on September 15-17, 2014 is one of the must-see events in Iloilo. Visitors are sure to see many hand-woven fabrics and products for sale. At first glance, one may not realize the quality of these fabrics; fewer are aware of the long history and importance weaving has played in Miagao society. The fabrics are not only beautiful and unique, but they provide a means for visitors to appreciate indigenous culture of the town.

With the theme, “Hablon, Panapton sang Panahon: Ipabugal kag Pasanyugon,” the First Hablon Festival opens with a Float Contest on the Opening Parade on September 15 at 3:00 P. M.; Opening of Heritage Hablon Display Contest and Food Fair at the JRBB Hall,4:30 p.m., and Opening Program at 4:45 p.m. Day 2 (September 16) Opening of Photo Exhibit at JRBB Hall at 9 a.m.; On-the-spot Essay Writing Contest for 3rd and 4th year students at the JRBB Hall at 9:30 a.m.; Social Presentation by the Ibugo Parish and OSCA at the JRBB Hall, 3 p.m. Day 3 (September 17) Fashion Show at the JRBB Hall at 6 p.m. For more information, please contact Mr. Arli Nim at 09332124066 or Mr. Anthony Selorio at 09391737407.

It was in the 18th century when Iloilo was referred to as the “Textile Capital of the Philippines” where hand-loomed produce such were exported to Manila and to other foreign countries. Textile goods were the most popular exports of Iloilo and that almost half of the products exported at that time were hand-loomed fabrics. There has been a tremendous demand for these fabrics. The weavers of Miagao contributed a lot in ushering this era of unparalleled prosperity for the Ilonggos.

Girls learn to weave before they reach puberty, and women spend nearly all their spare time spinning or weaving on wooden looms. “Habol” or “hinabol” made only of fibrous natural materials. At that time, pineapple (pina), banana (jusi) and abaca fibers were the materials of choice, but synthetic fibers is now the most readily available medium. The beautiful and practical creations of patadyong and hablon fabrics are works of art. Hand-woven cloths are still used for making runners, table cloths, pillow cases, handkerchief, bags and shawls. They are popular gift items especially among foreigners as it is a beautiful reminder of their adventure in Iloilo.

Many women in Miagao still depend on weaving as their main source of income and had become a popular income-generating activity in the community. Weaving in Barangays Indag-an, Valencia, Pungtod Naulid, Kirayan Tacas and Banbanan is a popular community-based tourism activity of Miagao.  Weavers labor in cooperative workshops for around 8-10 hours daily, while others work in their homes to alternate their weaving with their domestic chores. As the men walk kilometers to their fields, women stay home to raise their babies and weave. They are not paid at an hourly wage, but rather for the completed fabric sold per meter in the local market.

The weaving of the traditional fabrics is a skill that has been passed from one generation of women to the next for centuries. It has traditionally been, and still is, important in this municipality. Today, the cloths provide a valuable source of income for women in an area where unemployment is prevalent. The fabrics are especially valued because they are now used in office and school uniforms and in its traditional cultural events and festivities.

Visitors can experience and assist in the cultural preservation of the town. Known for their iconic colourful patadyong and hablon fabrics, weavers are involved in sharing weaving techniques and processes, as well as selling these beautiful hand-loom fabrics.

Tourism is an integral part and an important sector in Miagao. Considering the wealth of natural resources and historical attractions, it is critical that sustainable tourism is a focus of the industry. Ecotourism in the town is a diverse segment of the industry that includes conservation and preservation efforts of historical landmarks, nature, and communities, through economic and socio-cultural initiatives. In addition to these efforts, there are a number of initiatives that the municipal government had been focusing on, and that is nurturing local communities and their involvement in this industry.

The sustainability of any tourism industry depends on involving and benefiting the locals, both socio-culturally and economically.

Exploring the Natural Landmarks of Igbaras

photo by: pagexero . wordpress . com

Igbaras, Iloilo is a basket full of numerous activities for tourists and visitors to enjoy. Tourism in the town is built on the concept of ecotourism and the main focus is placed on sustainable use of the natural and cultural attractions which is its foundation, as well as empowering the local communities to benefit from tourism. It offers a diversity of attractions and activities. This makes the town a one stop destination for all your adventure expectations. It is rich in flora and fauna. 

on the road to Napulak, photo by: rundmd8 . wordpress. com
MOUNT NAPULAK. The mist-shrouded peaks of Mount Napulak situated in Barangay Tigbanaba provide a stunning backdrop to its magnificent landscape. It is the highest mountain in the area measuring 1,200 meters above sea level. The shaped reminds one of a woman’s breast where massive coral rock, as big as a two-storey building, that sits on its peak and provides trekkers an eye-catching view of the city with mountain patches of the neighboring Antique Province. The trails getting to the mountain exposes the area’s virgin forests and abundant wildlife. Walking tours in the foothills are a feature, although only the experienced and fit should attempt an ascent on its peaks. The highland meets cloud and mountainous landscapes; and flanking to this astounding array of natural habitats lie the artistic farmlands and villages of the local inhabitants providing very good photographic opportunities. Possible routes can be from the Poblacion to Barangay Bagay is a 5 – 8 hour trek or from the Poblacion to Barangay Tigbanaba approximately 4 – 7 hour hike. For those planning to get to the mountain, it is best to book the at least two days before. The Municipal Tourism Office will help and recommend official mountain guides. There is no water source when on the peak of the Napulak so hikers are advised to secure water containers. It is very cold up there especially during early morning so proper clothing is needed to those who wish to pitch in their tents for an overnight stay.

photo by:
BARANGAY IGCABUGAO prides itself with series of exceptionally beautiful forested mountains, from lowlands to highlands, large enough to preserve the integrity of the town’s ecosystem. Located 14 kilometers away from the poblacion though getting can be access by motorcycle. A downhill trek is needed from the visitor center in the area to Igaabugao Falls, the smallest in Igbaras with rock formations enveloping the cool and clear waters coming Igbolo Creek. The barangay is also home to the world’s largest individual flower, the Rafflesia. The Igcabugao Cave is 40-minuter rocky trek from the visitor center. Getting into the cave is a short climb where the chambers inside are a bit eerie and immense. Trekkers must wear helmets to be able to see extraordinary formations inside the cave that has a pool of clear and extremely cold water cave where fishes and crabs thrive. There are also bats. There are other popular caves in the area such as Passi Cave and Bais Cave.

Lagsakan Falls, photo courtesy of Igbaras Municipal Tourism Office

NADSADJAN FALLS in Barangay Passi is approximately 10 kilometers away from the town proper. It is a 100-foot high waterfall that pours into a cauldron-shaped natural swimming pool. It is the most visited falls of this town by tourists. Getting to the area is a one and a half kilometer not so difficult trek carved out of rocky landscapes with its fertile soils dotted with numerous serpentine-shaped river tributaries that embraces the track. A huge Balete tree stands near the falls. Other falls include Lagsakan Falls, Timapok Falls, Guiritsan Falls, Kiput Falls and Sampanan Falls.

Igcabugao Cave, photo courtesy of Igbaras Municipal Tourism Office
The vacation is ideal for adventurous families, couples and individuals, travel writers and nature photographers. Active days are complimented by comfy nights at some of the town’s affordable lodges with congenial local hosts. High Mountain View Resort in Sitio Patong, Lovell Lounge in Rizal Street and Erlinda’s Resort in Barangay Signe.

Kiput Falls, photo courtesy of Igbaras Municipal Tourism Office
The natural attraction of Igbaras as a tourist destination arises out of the variety of its unspoilt scenic beauty. It generally has substantial natural resources for tourism with a variety of landscape and ecosystems. Some of its features are unique. The Igbaras experience has novelty and rarity values not easily found elsewhere in Iloilo.

Igbaras is 40 kilometers from the city and is bounded on the north by the Municipality of San Remegio of Antique Province; east by the Municipality of Tubungan; west by the Municipality of Miag-ao; and in the south by the Municipality of Guimbal. It has a total land area of 15,245 hectares politically subdivided into 46 barangays.

To get to the, one can take a jeepney at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary Terminal in Barangay Mohon, Oton, Iloilo. Metered taxis are also available at the terminal. For more information, please contact Engr. Wilfredo “Boy” Delgado-Municipal Tourism Officer at (033) local 104- 5184022 or at 09209643404. Know more about Igbaras on the 10th TUMANDOK celebration on September 18-20 at the fountain area of Robinsons Place Iloilo.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Maasin: Bamboo Capital of Iloilo

photo from
Maasin, Iloilo is a dedicated bamboo town located 29.5 kilometers west-central portion from the city. The town is blessed with scenic views of villages along plantations of bamboo where farms are being developed by the Municipal Government as one of its eco-tourism destinations.  Many of these farms showcase varieties of bamboo to have more people appreciate and discover more about it and it uses.

Think of your stay in Maasin as an escape from your hectic city life. Many of the farms in the area are ideal places for people who want to spend some time in lap of nature. Pamper yourself with long walks around the plantations and find a corner to read a good book or indulge the photographer in you.

Bamboo farming has a great potential in alleviating poverty and providing livelihood opportunities in the countryside. Bamboo is used to make chairs, wooden sofa, wooden beds, and as a frame for traditional houses. Bamboo is no longer considered as a poor man’s timber but a multi-purpose crop with so many uses.


Bamboo belongs to the grass family and is known to be the largest grass in the world. There are around 91 genera and over 1,000 species of bamboos all over the world.  They are commonly found in East Asia and Southeast Asia but common in the Philippines are the bamboo species of Laak, Kawayan tinik, Kawayan tiling, Botong or Patong, Bolo and Kayali.

The size of bamboo varies from small annuals to giant timbers and divided into Clumpers – those that grow from the soil in a slowly expanding tuft; and, Runners – with underground rhizomes to produce shoots several metres from the parent plant. They are known to be the fastest growing woody plants in the world with a growth rate of about 24 inches daily. This is because it has a unique rhizome-dependent system. It produces flower only every 20 to 120 years, and the flower is the easiest way to classify the type.


The province of Iloilo has an abundant supply of bamboo poles. Around 8, 085 hectares is planted with bamboo producing 2,426,487 poles every year with the municipality of Maasin devoting 3,000 hectares for bamboo farming.

The province supplies raw material requirements of 41 manufacturers, 32 domestic producers, and 9 exporters of various processed bamboo products (source: Western Visayas Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (WESVARRDEC).

With this, Iloilo is aiming to be recognized as the “Bamboo Capital of the Philippines.” With its increasing demand for bamboo poles, the provincial government is accelerating its plantation development efforts with a long-term plan of establishing additional bamboo plantations of about 58,200 hectares in the coming years.


Aside from its household and industrial use, bamboo experts in Iloilo, for many years have been experimenting with other possible uses and are still discovering new applications. Bamboo enthusiasts, local government units and support agencies from the regional offices, livelihood cooperatives and researchers from the academe have committed to give full support to our local bamboo-based producers. People are exposed to study tours and with trainings related to bamboo and bamboo technology.

It is also used for preparing food. The chemical ingredients of bamboo in bamboo shoots, , are made up of 88.8% moisture, 3.9 % protein, 0.5% fat, 5.7 % carbohydrates and 1.1 minerals. Its amino acid content of bamboo is higher than cabbage, carrot, onion and pumpkin. Bamboo also contains 17 different types of enzymes and more than 10 kinds of mineral elements, such as chromium, zinc, manganese, iron, magnesium, nickel and cobalt. Mixes of tender bamboo shoots are used to clean wounds and treat ulcers and maggot-infested sores. Bamboo leaves are used to fight spastic disorders and bleeding conditions, as well as diarrhea and stomach disorders.

One of the major products of Maasin is bamboo charcoal. Iloilo Kawayan Marketing in Maasin in known to produce this 100% natural product that is ecologically friendly. When used as a fuel, it is smokeless and odourless that is why it is best for barbecues. Bamboo charcoal works as a natural fertilizer and pesticide. It is also used as a deodorizer. It can also be used to filter tap water. Alternatively, you can also try putting pieces of bamboo charcoal in a jug of tap water then leave it for 4-5 hours. The water in the jug will taste like mineral water.

Bamboo charcoal is now popularly used in soap due to its anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. It cleans the skin deeply. Because of the incredible absorbency of the bamboo charcoal with activated carbon, the soap can clean to the very bottom of skin pores and does not leave a residue on the face. This means that the newly cleaned skin pores can receive natural moisturizing from the body’s oils. Because bamboo charcoal soap cleans the skins pores thoroughly and then allows them to be moisturized it is recommended that people with acne wash with bamboo charcoal soap.
Maasin is made up of 50 barangays over a land area of 15,658 hectares. It is bounded in the north by the Municipality of Janiuay; in the east by the Municipality of Cabatuan; in the south by the Municipal of Alimodian; and in the northwest by the mountain ranges of the province of Antique. It annually celebrates its patronal fiesta every 30th of December in honor of San Jaime. Market days are every Mondays and Thursdays.

To know more about Maasin and its established bamboo industry, visit their booth on 10th TUMANDOK celebration on September 18-20 at the fountain area of Robinsons Place Iloilo. For more information, please contact, Miss Kristine Mae Cartagena-Municipal Tourism Officer at 09088601549.

Agricultural Tourism at its Best in Leon

Bucari mountain ranges, Leon, Iloilo by King Erlano

Agricultural tourism was unheard of in Iloilo in the past, but many visitors have discovered that there is a wealth of knowledge to be gained by visiting farms. A new wave of business tourists are coming to Leon and are in increasing numbers.  Agricultural tourism plays a very important role for its economy. It is now a popular trend offering urban dwellers the chance to escape their fast-paced lifestyle and re-discover their rural roots.

The rise of agricultural tourism in Leon has resulted positive interests from local tour operators to put together custom-made agricultural tourism packages. The agricultural tourism packages offered by local tour operators include a visit to protected areas, ensuring that agricultural tourists also get a taste of the natural beauty and wildlife that it has to offer. The ecological integrity and the scenic value of its landscapes made the town attractive for the establishment of enterprises and for the tourist and recreation businesses. Tourists can sample local food, participate in local customs, and practice fair trade by purchasing handcrafts and agricultural products directly from producers, benefiting the local economy.

photo by John Ray Palmares

There is something for everyone in Leon, and with just a little planning and pre-trip discussion, visitors can experience a rural vacation that will inspire, excite and leave lasting memories.

Bucari, Leon, Iloilo by

Active travellers can take a challenging hike or bike to the scenic pine-clad area of BUCARI, Sitio Tabionan and experience some of the best off-road trek that Iloilo has to offer. It has access to acres of unspoiled mountain pastures, with panoramic views. Visitors will not go home disappointed. Situated 1,200-meters above sea level, Declared as an Eco-tourist zone, Bucari is 10,432.875-hectares and features a subtropical highland climate and on some days it even gets foggy. It is popularly known as the "Little Baguio of Iloilo."  You will be amazed by the impressive views of verdant mountain ranges of neighboring towns. Whether you are enjoying a thrilling downhill path on foot or on bike or stopping for a picnic at a scenic spot, you are going to have a great time trekking or mountain biking. The upland barangay of Bucari can be reached by jeepney at the Leon public plaza on a scheduled trip daily. Along your way to Bucari are scenic patches of vegetable producing sitios known for their cabbages, sweet peppers, eggplants, beans, sweet potatoes, monggo and peanuts. This has brought a lot of income to small farmers. Not to mention mango orchards where the town is noted for, the sweetest and the best mangoes in Iloilo.

photo by John Ray Palmares

Bucari plays a very important role for the promotion of Leon. In recent years, many day-trippers visit the area, though the town is still struggling with their overnight stays due to few accommodation establishments, Bucari is the centrepiece of every tourism activity in Leon. For those who would want to stay overnight, the area has bamboo cottages lodges and standard lodge rooms. Booking in advance is the best way to secure the accommodations you want. Before booking, visitors are encouraged to do some research online to get a feel for the area's geography and decide which lodging best suits them.

Talon Inn, Bucari National High School

PINERIDGE BUCARI in Barangay Bacolod is the most popular vacation and adventure getaway attraction in Leon. The entire property is set in the midst of mountain ranges and every room has its own special view of this splash of nature. The pine-clad area is also never far from the resort and you can catch a glimpse of the beautiful Agua Colonia foothills from anywhere in the resort and you will find that your accommodation has nothing but the best natural setting. For visitors, a minimum fee of P150.00 goes with a native coffee and dessert. For those who would want to stay overnight, the room can accommodate six (6) persons for a fee of P1,000.00. Gourmet meals are on a reservation basis to a minimum of five (5) persons with price ranging from P300.00-P500.00.  A 3-day reservation basis is needed. For more information, please call (033) 320 0977 or mobile at +63-906-399-4319 or you can email them at For the budget-conscious traveller, TALON INN situated within the premises of Bucari National High School offers bamboo lodges perfect for a group of four. It has sweeping views of beautiful mountain ranges and scenic rice terraces. For more information, please contact 09098963503.

For the history buff, they can explore the St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish Church The Baroque architectural design the church 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.

Leon is 28 kilometers on the west-southwest portion of Iloilo. It is bounded in the north by the municipality of Alimodian; in the west the municipality of San Remegio of the province of Antique; in the south by the municipalities of Tigbauan and Tubungan; and in the east by the municipality of San Miguel. It has a total land area 14,005 hectares politically subdivided by 85 barangays. It annually celebrates its patronal fiesta every 25th of November in honor of Sta. Catalina de Alejandria. Market day is every Saturday.

Get to know more about Leon and the places to see on the 10th TUMANDOK Celebration on September 18-20 at the fountain area of Robinsons Place Iloilo. For more information, please contact Mrs. Rose Leah Kilayko-Municipal Tourism Officer at 09108167169.

Sustaining Heritage Tourism in Cabatuan

Cabatuan Catholic Cemetery by Vincent Angelo Gefes

Iloilo's historic towns attract mostly local travelers and small towns, such as Cabatuan, also get their fair share of attention.

Tourism is one of Cabatuan’s important industries. It is their preferred economic development strategy since it is an opportunity for this town to identify, package and market their existing assets. Heritage tourism is its fastest-growing segment.  The town is among the popular in the province in heritage tourism visitation.  More travelers are visiting remnants of Spanish culture in the area. The historic and cultural resources associated with the people of Cabatuan, its events, or aspects in their community’s past gave the municipality its sense of identity and help tell its story. 

Cabatuan Church, photo by Tara Yap

ST. NICOLAS OF TOLENTINE PARISH CHURCH is of Neo-Classical architectural style. The first parochial church was finished in 1732, same year when it became an independent parish. The present church was constructed in 1834 under the supervision of Father Ramon Alquezar. It was finished by Father Manuel Ruiz in 1866 using bricks. A red brick convent was built under the supervision of Father Juan Porras in 1876. Minor restoration was done by Father Manuel Guiterrez in 1890.Known to be one of the most beautiful churches in Iloilo during its time, it was described as the “Model of Temples” by El Eco de Panay and the Largest Brick Church in Panay. Every side of the church was a façade in itself. It was said to have looked more of a Basilica. It was accented by three domes where at each side of the church were big clocks and the center dome was over the altar. It measured 50 meters in length and 20 meters in width. Its thickness was about a meter and a half. It used to have 19 circular, multi-colored window panes and 10 massive doors. The altar was flanked by two smaller altars. The belfry had four windows with four big bells. On its ceiling were paintings of Rome and chandeliers. In 1942 it was burned by guerillas and totally destroyed by Japanese forces the following year. The front portion of the church however was not damaged. The bricks and the stones of the church were used to repair the landing field in Tiring.

CASA or the town’s municipal hall was built along with the church sometime 1734. Though its second level was damaged by war and other calamities, the ground floor is centuries old characterized by columns of art deco architectural design with semi-arched windows of capiz shells of Tuscan-inspired architecture.

Roman Catholic Cemetery, photo by Vincent Angelo Gefes

CABATUAN ROMAN CATHOLIC CEMETERY in Barangay Banguit is a four hectare perfectly square shaped cemetery constructed in 1886 under the supervision of Father Juan Porres, Father Cesareo Prodigo and was continued by Father Manuel Guiterrez in 1890. With elegant iron grills, its walls and chapel were made of stones quarried from the mountains in Leon. It was heavily damaged during the 1948 Lady Kaykay earthquake and was reconstructed.

relic from the original cross at pamul-ogan Hill

PAMUL-OGAN HILL SHRINE in Barangay Pamul-ogan is popular especially during the Holy Week. It is said that when Spanish authorities set foot in the town they planted a Molave Cross on the hill. What remained of the cross is a piece of wood almost 2 feet in height with the date 1732 inscribed. The hill overlooks the poblacion of Cabatuan and the New International Iloilo Airport.

Tree of Bondage, phtoto courtesy of Cabatuan Tourism Office

TREE OF BONDAGE is considered as a shrine by the people of Cabatuan situated in the heart of their municipal plaza fronting the historic Municipal Hall. The historic calachuchi tree has long been standing as one of the pride of the town and has been identified as a tourist spot. It constantly is by local tourists. Local stories has it that during Spanish rule, locals who refuse to do labour for the construction of local roads, the church and bridges, as well as other public structures were tied to the tree and whipped. Presently, the tree framed with chains attached to poles and a concrete base.

BALAY TABLEA. Even the local cuisine has indigenous and foreign influences the strongest is from Spain that ruled the Philippines for almost 400 years. Historians claim that our local cuisine is almost 80 percent of Spanish origin. Because of the Spaniards elite community at that time, our dishes were also adapted by the upper-class Filipinos. The drinking of chocolate has a long tradition in many local towns all over the country. It said that sometime in the 17th century, Spanish authorities pushed the growing of cacao trees and making its beans into cacao tablets popularly known as tablea.  Fresh cacao beans are removed from their pods, and peeled then dried under the heat of the sun. The beans are then roasted and are manually grinded. It is then mixed with a little sugar and formed into tablets. It is then mixed with a little water, milk and sugar and boiled to almost syrup consistency and served hot especially during breakfast and other special occasions. Cacao Tablea is now a sought after delicacy and famous cottage industry in Cabatuan. It has its own specialty house right at Rizal-Ilawod Street and is owned and managed by Caterine Taleon. There visitors can taste one of the best native chocolate drink in the province.

The Second-Class municipality of Cabatuan is 24.2 kilometers away from the city. It is politically subdivided into 68 barangays over a land area of 8,248 hectares populated by 50, 861 residents (2010 Census on Population). It annually celebrates its Religious Fiesta every 10th of September in honor of their patron San Nicholas de Tolentino. Tinuom Festival is celebrated in the last week of August till the 2nd week of September. Markey days is every Wednesday and Sunday.

To experience the historic heritage of the Spanish colonial times, visit the town exhibition during the 10th TUMANDOK celebration on September 18-20 at the fountain area of Robinsons Place Iloilo. For more information, please contact Mr. Francisco Gonzaga Jr. –Municipal Tourism Officer at 09283649477.

Celebrating Tubungan’s Colorful and Vibrant Cultural Festival

Tubungan, Iloilo on its 250th Foundation Anniversary will celebrate the 17th Tubong-Tubong Festival, the town’s tradition that runs ...