Monday, March 30, 2015

Annual Holy Week Devotions in Iloilo

Pasyon, photo courtesy of Santa Barbara LGU

The week-long tradition of Semana Santa or Holy Week begins during Palm Sunday and leads till Easter Sunday. For Christians, it is a time where they prepare themselves with prayer, penitence, and sacrifice.

In many towns all over Iloilo, there abound a number of religious destinations that offers spiritual enlightenment to visitors. Many of these local traditions are well known and people annually gather to pay homage to these important events. 

the Roman Catholic Chruch of San Joaquin, photo by Bombette G. Marin

Most popular is the Visita Iglesia where Ilonggos visit as many as seven or more churches in day. The most popular churches are in the southern portion of the province: the Saint John of Sahagun Parish in Tigbauan is known to be the oldest existing church in Panay; The Saint Nicolas of Tolentine Parish in Guimbal is known for its yellow sandstone walls and predominantly made of adobe blocks locally known as Igang was finished in 1774; the Saint Thomas of Villanova Parish in Miagao is considered to be one of the most popular churches in the country because of its unique façade of native botanical motif. It was declared as a National Shrine in 1973 and was included in the World Heritage List under UNESCO in 1993, the only one in the Visayas and Mindanao; The Roman Catholic Church of San Joaquin is considered as the most militaristic church in the Philippines where its bas relief sculpture reveals the cavalry and infantry led by St. James, the Moor-slayer, breaking the Moorish defenses under a minaret tower against a landscape of date palms. It was declared a national shrine in 1974.

The life-sized statues of saints and Lenten characters on beautifully-decorated and lighted Pasos or floats are paraded on the streets every Good Friday. Many of the pasos were created by artistic masters and were handed from one generation to the other. The overall atmosphere is supposed to be of mourning, like a traditional funeral procession. The towns of Leganes and Igbaras are known to have the most number of Pasos in the province.

Passion plays are popular Lenten treats in other communities where people watch the recreation of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. Taltal in Barotac Viejo is a very important Lenten event that is religiously celebrated every Good Friday since in 1975. It has drawn in many visitors to this town every year to witness the story of Christ's passion.

Pasyon in Santa Barbara, photo courtesy of Santa Barbara LGU
Pasyon is another popular Lenten activity for the people of Cabatuan and Santa Barbara. Celebrated every Good Friday after the procession, it is a competition of continued singing that recounts the life of Christ. The singers are of young and old engage in a marathon of chanting while seated on little makeshift bamboo chapels clustered in the different streets all over the poblacion.

Kapiya in Santa Barbara, photo courtesy of Santa Barbara LGU

Besides Cabatuan and Alimodian, the town of Santa Barbara is also known for its annual Kapiya competition that beautifully displays series of sculptures made of indigenous materials popular in the area. The characters are life-sized and are even well-lighted during the evening.

Holy Week is something that people should experience every year.  It will not only show how our local culture is deeply rooted to our traditions and commitments but it will also help you discover other important attractions surrounding them.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The 1st Scallop Festival in Gigante Norte, Carles

photo by Nerio Lujan

Barangay Asluman, Gigante Norte, Carles, Iloilo will hold its 1st Scallop Festival on March 20-21 to honor and kick-start a whole new industry that could rival other fish farming activities in Iloilo and could eventually employ the same numbers.
Do not miss this year's event where craft vendors and many great food vendors featuring scallops and more will be offered throughout comfortable Barangay Asluman’s public plaza. The celebration will be highlighted with the Tribal Dance Competition taking the stage at 1:00 pm.

photo by Nerio Lujan
Scallop supports a small but locally important commercial fishery in the islands especially in Gigante Norte, Carles, Iloilo. The majority of the catch is destined as frozen scallop meat to supply the gourmet seafood market locally and a small portion is marketed in nearby municipalities and neighboring provinces in restaurants.

Wholesale market prices for scallops have fluctuated markedly over the past years. Market variability is primarily in response to product availability and condition. The size and meat condition play an integral part in determining the market value of scallop meat. Higher prices are usually paid for larger scallops.

photo by Nerio Lujan
For a time, scalloping became a struggling industry. They were found to very scarce in the area due to unregulated use of trawls and use of dynamites that totally destroyed scallop beds around the area. Destructive trawling method was employed to fish scallop in the area. There were times when they trawl on a 24-hour basis during the fishing season. Catching scallops at a size and reproductive condition which maximises meat weight and condition were not taken into consideration. This had a dramatic impact on the economic attractiveness of scallop fishing in Carles.

photo by Nerio Lujan
Because of the strict enforcement against illegal fishing initiated by Governor Arthur Defensor, Sr., results show a surge in the number scallops in parts of the islands that could be a boon to the scallop industry now and in the many years ahead. Even smaller scallops were found in high numbers in the area. Scallop harvesting is now open in its waters.

Just like oysters and clams, scallops are edible bivalves found both in bay waters and in the sea. They consist of two shells hinged at one end which is why they are known to be as bi-valve mollusks.

A single scallop is capable of producing millions of eggs at once, but the mortality rate is extremely high. Only 1 egg out of 12 million may survive to adulthood. Most scallops can live 20 years or more. Age can often be judged by the concentric rings of their shells.

photo by Nerio Lujan

The edible portion of the scallop is called the “nut,” a soft, fleshy textured muscle that opens and closes the two shells. The flavor is mild sweet and delicate and are used in many recipes similar to shrimp or clams in foods such as pasta dishes and appetizers. It is also best served with a mild sauce of cream, cheese, or butter that does not overpower the subtle flavor of the scallop itself.

Scallops are good sources of magnesium and potassium, two other nutrients that provide significant benefits for the cardiovascular system. Magnesium helps out by causing blood vessels to relax, thus helping to lower blood pressure while improving blood flow. Potassium helps to maintain normal blood pressure levels. It also provides protection against colon cancer.

When planning your scalloping trip to Carles, make sure to check out the local area you have decided on for your adventure. Helpful guides in Gigante Norte on where go scalloping will introduce you to other attractions found in the site.

Carles is the last town north of the province of Iloilo. It is 147.6 kilometers away or a 3-hour bus ride from Northern Iloilo Public Transport Terminal in Barangay Tagbak, Jaro, Iloilo City. To get to Barangay Asluman, Gigante Norte, visitors can take a motorized boat ride in Bangkal Wharf in mainland Carles.  If you have any questions about scalloping or where to scalloping in Carles feel free to contact Miss Marjorie Gumban-Municipal Tourism Officer at 09198871348. Scalloping season is just around the corner so plan your trip well.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Pintados de Pasi: Honoring Music, Dance and Culture

photo by Ray Tabafunda
Known as one of the finest showcase of festival traditions in the province of Iloilo, the annual festival of Pintados de Pasi will take place on March 12 -22, 2015 at in Passi City, Iloilo. The event features a variety of tribal dance moves and storytelling that will honor their collected history, culture and tradition.

An array of entertainment activities daily will be provided to visitors to gain a better understanding of their own history and customs. With this year’s theme, “Passinhon nga Kultura: Handurawon kag Pasanyugon,” the celebration will open on March 12 (Thursday) with the Opening of Food Festival; March 13 (Friday) Kawasaki CT Big Dominate at Plaza Paloma; March 14 (Saturday) mass at Parish at 6 am, Parade and Pasundayag and Opening Program at 8 am, Golden Hearts Award: Songs and Dances of Yesteryears at Passi Social Hall at 7 pm and Globe Night at Plaza Paloma at 9 pm;  March 15 (Sunday)  Talents Night for Bb. Pintados at Passi Social Hall at 7 pm; March 16 (Monday) Pasundayag sang Academia 2015 at the Plaza Paloma at 7 pm; March 18 (Wednesday) Sinadya sa Suba/ Pinta Lawas at the riverbank beside Passi Bus Terminal at 7 am;  (March 19 (Thursday) Search for Bb. Pintados at 7 pm; March 20 (Friday) Karosa Parada and Carabao Painting Contest at 7 am; March 21 (Saturday) Talk N Text BasketbolSaya and Bingo Panalo at the Passi Montessori and Plaza Paloma 7 am till 7 pm; and, March 22 (Sunday) Tribe Competition at 8 am.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

According to a Spanish chronicler who came to visit the different islands in the Visayas sometime in 1565, they were welcomed by heavily tattooed men and women of the islands. They called the island “La Isla De Los Pintados” or “Islands of the Painted Ones where the men and women were named Pintados. Originally, the Pintados are a warlike race.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

It was said that the painted men undergo an initiation ceremony, his rite of passage done with his first exposure to decorative scarring and piercing popularly known as tattooing, with simple geometric patterns using black powder.  They prick their skin with sharp pieces of iron and then apply black powder to the open wounds which is absorbed into the skin permanently.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

The patterns developed have emotional meaning attached to them. Patterns, normally geometric have been found tattooed on the chests, shoulders, arms, and thighs. The patterns in their bodies convey a strong bond and meaning amongst people in their community. They are a connection to their past and carry a very strong cultural meaning in their lives.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

Tattooing forms part of their culture since the beginning of time. Primarily, tribes practise body painting as it is a part of their tribal ritual and as a mark of their status. When they become warriors sent for battle except for a loin cloth, their bodies were given additional streaks of patterns depending on the number of enemies killed after the fight.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

The annual celebration of Pintados de Pasi Festival is to recognize and celebrate their ancient cultural practice and take pride of their ethnic roots for its from looking back into who they once were that they become more enlightened with where and who they will be in the future.

The component city of Passi is 50 kilometers away or an hour and twenty minutes away from Iloilo City. It is located along the Central portion of the province using the Iloilo-Capiz National Highway.  Made up of 51 barangays over a land area of 25,068 hectares, it annually celebrates its cultural festival every March and Religious Festival every February in honor of San Guillermo.

Visitors to Passi City can take the bus at Northern Iloilo Public Transport Terminal in Barangay Tagbak, Jaro, Iloilo City.  For more information, please contact Miss Lucy A. Jangayo at the Office of the City Mayor at (033) 3115087.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Lovely Sandy Island Strips in Ajuy

Marbuena Island Resort, Ajuy, Iloilo, photo by Bombette G. Marin

Ajuy, Iloilo is about 91.9 kilometers north from Iloilo City. Its coastline, a green sea dotted with just seven and a half islands (the other half shares border with Concepcion) and some resorts. A number of these islands present popular diving and snorkelling destinations because of their crystal clear waters and rich coral areas.

With emerging tourism development, the islands of Ajuy remain a site with minimal disruption. Locals usually find that the island beaches are enough of a reason to visit Ajuy all by itself

Nasidman Island, Ajuy, photo by Gerard Villareal

Nasidman Island beach is lovely- for those who like to relax. The sand is creamy white and the water calm. The island feels like the sleepy fishing village. Easy motorized boat access of almost 30 minutes motorized boatride from Culasi Wharf  makes this among the  favorite location when visitors would want to enjoy one of Ajuy’s the best in terms of water, sand and hospitality. 

rest area in Nasidman Island, photo by Gerard Villareal

Like other islands in the north, Nasidman is also rich in marine life. It has a Marine Protected Area that is slowly becoming a major attraction for water activities such as snorkeling, paddle boating and diving and promoted continuously by the locals. And you can make a visit to its neighboring Calabazas Island that houses the 1884 Parola or Lighthouse known to the Second Oldest Lighthouse in the country. March to May is a good time to visit the island. 

Tabagak in Nasidman, photo by Gerard Villareal

A holiday weekend is also definitely more fun with friends and families. The island is also a perfect place to witness Tabagak-drying and buy some to bring home.

Marbuena Island Resort, photo by Bombette G. Marin

Binongan-an Island popularly known as Marbuena Island Resort is a private island beach best known for its beautiful mix of sand, pebbles and beautiful wind and water. Amenities are beachside, and can get busy especially during the summer. For those who are not into snorkeling, the sand is creamish white. The water looks clear and not a lot of coral reefs in it but still it popped impression like no other.  

Marbuena Island, photo by Bombette G. Marin

The water has lesser waves so it is lovely for swimming and relaxing too. It is also known for its crescent-shaped sandbar with soft sand and calm emerald-green water. Though badly devastated by the recent typhoon, it is slowly picking up the pieces by opening its resort to the public with five (5) bamboo cottages, each cottage has two (2) fan rooms that can accommodate a group of four persons at P1,700 for overnight stay. For more information, please contact Marbuena Island Resort at (033)3291780 or send inquiries through their email: and check their website:

Isla Bida, photo by Bombette G. Marin

Isla BIda in Barangay Pantalan-Nabaye, Sitio Binongan-an, is a great beach experience that very few people find. It is a small sheltered hidden gem and a magical spot for a dip and a picnic. This is a perfect destination for those of you who want to find a beautiful secluded island, far from the crowds, and the frenetic city life. 

Isla Bida, photo by Bombette G. Marin

You can enjoy basking in the sun with sand. It is almost 10 kilometers or a 25-minute motorized boatride from Mangorocoro Wharf. The island resort has three open bamboo cottages, a mini pavilion that can house 20 persons, a dining hall and a house with seven (7) double-deck beds. For more information, please contact Vidal Villaruz at 09126082827.

Regardless who you are visiting while on vacation in the island beaches of Ajuy, with friends, your family or as a couple, you will truly enjoy the beauty and the things you do here.  And if you want a break from the beautiful island beach experience, there are a number of mainland attractions and things to do.

Ajuy has a land area of 19,346 hectares divided into 34 barangays. The town celebrates its annual patronal fiesta every 10th of September in honor of their patron San Nicolas de Tolentino. Market day is every Sunday.

To get to Ajuy, busses are available daily at the Northern Central Iloilo Transport Terminal, Inc. in Barangay Tagbak, Jaro, Iloilo City. For more information, please call Miss Jocelyn Maalat, Municipal Tourism Officer at 09494303612.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Organic Adventure in Orchard Valley

herbal garden
Organic farming in Iloilo is considered a fragmented industry that is still young with its high cost of marketing the value of organic foods and farming and the high cost of consumer engagement. However, Architect Johnny O. Que committed to this agricultural segment. He believed that healthy plants mean healthy people, and such better nourished plants provide better nourishment to people and animals alike and that organic farming is a viable and beneficial alternative; for you, your family and the environment.

Architect Que has been practising organic farming since 1999 promoting biodiversity, biological cycle and soil biological activity.   Using the waste of plants and animals, the architect has developed a mixed garden of vegetables, provisions and various herbs.

Established in 2002 in Barangay Tigum, Pavia, Iloilo is a 31-hectare organic farm where vegetables, herbs, fruits and livestock are grown. The Orchard Valley, Incorporated was materialized with its goal of promoting and creating awareness on organic farming methods. In 2011, it became the first and only certified organic farm in Iloilo certified by NICERT (Negros Island Certification). It is also another major step taken towards responsible tourism especially in towns identified as Agri-Tourism areas.

Facilities in the property include a 24 hectare organic farm subdivided into: (a) 4 hectares for Vegetable Production such as Chinese cabbage lettuce, herbs, fruit vegetables like eggplant, ocra or lady’s finger, chilli peppers tomatoes, squash and carrots; (b) 7 hectares for Fruit Production which include red lady papaya and banana (saba, cavindish, lakatan and murado); (c) 5 hectares for Grains and Cereals Production which includes rice, corn, mungbean or monggo, soybean and peanut, and (d) 4 hectares for Livestock and Poultry Production which include cows, pigs, goats, chicken, geese and ducks. They are also into milk production, composting and honey culture from European honeybees.

Fruits, vegetables and herbs grown in our farms are free of chemicals and pesticides. These organic fruits and vegetables are grown primarily for consumption by public served and sold at all Iloilo Supermart branches in the city and served in Coffeebreak outlets. Any surplus crops are sold to the public during their visit to the farm.

Organic farming is slowly growing as an agricultural segment in the province of Iloilo. In the region, the province of Negros Occidental leads other provinces in certified organic lands with acres producing organic fruit and vegetables. They engaged in numerous scientific studies on the benefits of organic farming and strategies organic farmers can use to build more profitable farm businesses.

compost area

Agriculture and tourism are among the government’s priority investments areas in the country and with Orchard Valley, Inc., we hope to see more organic farms in the province in the years to come.

10-hectare pasture area

The Orchard Valley, Inc. conducts guided farm tours for visiting groups from schools and institutions to publically share its knowledge of vegetable grown in their organic farms. It is open for tours from Mondays till Saturdays, for all ages, families and group sizes where they learn about the culture of organic foods and the beauty of sustainable farming. Farm tours are to be booked a week in advance. Government Institutions and private companies are charged P100 as entrance fee and P50 will be charged for educational institutions. The farm can accommodate a maximum of 120 persons per tour visit. By booking in advance, visitors can sample fresh organic vegetables and fruits in season. They could also buy some of the home-grown vegetables and herbs. 

native pigs

Come visit The Orchard Valley, Inc. in Pavia. Visitors can use the organic farm as a base from which to visit many backyard industries in Pavia. For first-time visitors, tricycles are available in Pavia Public Plaza at P50 (exclusively occupied) or visitors can also take the tricycle at Save More in Barangay Quintin Salas, Jaro at P20 per person.

Interested parties may contact Miss Anabelle Jarbadan at 09228923415 to make appointments for the organic farm tour.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Eco-Chic Relaxing Inn Garden Resort

Amidst the offerings of its neighboring towns where you will find majority of the visitors to Iloilo on the beach for that relaxing holiday in the sun, the town of Sara, Iloilo is a breather where one can engage in recreational and relaxing activities, including swimming, trekking and mountain biking. It is where one can also indulge in business affairs at a leisurely pace.

And if you are looking for something a bit different to do, go to a quiet and private inland resort. We recommend you check out the Relaxing Inn Garden Resort located in Barangay Antonio Yusay and about 2.3 kilometers from the main town of Sara, Iloilo.

Owned by Italian Executive Chef Walter Zanetti and Ma. Dolores Natividad Nava Zanetti, a native of Sara, the resort is a two-hectare haven for that simple event, family and romantic celebrations and respite from hectic city life. The resort is a perfect escape any time. Explore the natural beauty of the unspoiled countryside and spend a holiday away from home in this colorful and fun inland resort.

Colorful and beautifully decorated with lots of accessories such as masks and wood carvings brought by the owners on their travels abroad, the resort with vibrant colors like oranges, yellow, blue make it stand out. It has become an extremely chic and happening place in Sara.

There are five (5) air-conditioned rooms named after countries visited by the couple such as Italy, Switzerland, Canada, Morocco and Austria. Each room is at P700 per day with a maximum of four persons; An air-conditioned family for a group of 10 persons at P1,400; and an air-conditioned regular room with a veranda facing the pool good for three persons at P900 per day. The bedroom designs and interiors are extremely chic. The vibrant colors that were used for bedroom decor and designs make the room glow and give a very soothing effect. It is one of the place where you could enter and in an instant end the dull hard week or day of work. One weekend there could help to forget about all problems of adult lifestyle, to become a child once again and to relax as you have never relaxed since your childhood. All rooms have private bathrooms.

The bar/ tiangge area is a great place to visit for visitors with children. They can shop during their visit to the resort. Here visitors can find a range of souvenir items, fancy jewelries, toys and pasalubong items and offer the best price for their items. Other amenities include a kiddie and adult pool, mini function hall and a restaurant. The resort also offers catering services.

We invite you to embrace the charm of Relaxing Inn Garden Resort and make it your home away from home.

The municipality of Sara is a 2nd-class municipality belonging to the 5th Congressional District of the province of Iloilo. It is 97 kilometers northeast from the city and is politically subdivided into 42 barangays with a land area measuring 18, 300 hectares. It is bounded on the north by the province of Capiz, on the east by the towns of San Dionisio and Concepcion, on the south by Ajuy, and on the west by Lemery. It annually celebrates its patronal Fiesta every 24th of June in honor of San Juan de Bautista. Market day is every Mondays and Saturdays.

For more information, please contact Miss Donna Zanetti at 09985448633 or visit their facebook account: Relaxing Garden Resort.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Assemblage Point Resort and Convention Hub

The adult and kiddie pools of the resort, photo by Bombette G. Marin

San Joaquin Iloilo is a destination for everybody. Whether you are younger, older, single, with your family, there are activities here for everybody. If you are a swimmer, of course, there are some of the best swimming areas in all of San Joaquin. But if swimming is not your thing, there are so many things you can do, whether it is on the water or the beach or land tours or zip-lining or biking ... The list goes on and on.

In the recent years, the municipality of San Joaquin, located off the southern portion of the province of Iloilo, has been transforming itself. It now appears to be shaping up of becoming a resort destination - a hot spot for local and foreign investors and leisure tourists.

pool side area, photo by Bombette G. Marin

San Joaquin has developed a lot of infrastructure in recent years to boost its appeal as a tourism destination. Amazingly, the number of resorts dotting this unique mountain-meets-sea landscape has actually increased. Definitely, resorts are a major contributor to bringing tourism back.

a pool with a view, photo by Bombette G. Marin

This gem of a resort embraces the true meaning of Natural Beauty. Stretched over 3,700 square meters of glorious tropical landscapes, The Assemblage Point Resort and Convention Hub is an all-inclusive eco-chic natural hideaway with glorious accommodations.

lounging area at the basement, photo by Bombette G. Marin

Opened in January 26, 2015, the resort is arguably in the most spectacular location in San Joaquin. This is the place to rediscover the wonders of nature. The resort is a dream for all nature lovers and a perfect hideaway to enjoy privacy. The architects made full use of this amazing location.

deluxe rooms with ocean view, photo by Bombette G. Marin

The resort is nicely designed with 18 rooms: two (2) air-condition twin sharing rooms for honeymooners at P6,500 with free breakfast for two; and 15 air-conditioned deluxe rooms of which 10 rooms have a stunning view of the sea and surrounding cliffs at P4,500 with free breakfast for two; and a Presidential Suite good for a family of 6 for P12,500.

lounging area at the basement, photo by Bombette G. Marin

The beachfront has been left as open as is possible in the limited space, allowing guests to relax by the beach while absorbing the natural surroundings. The architects made full use of this amazing location. The pools also allow guests to swim while enjoying views. No matter where you look around this resort is always the amazing geography that catches both vision and imagination. With unlimited swimming, it has adult and kiddie pools that open from 7 am till 10 pm with a rate of P150 for adults, P120 for senior citizens and P100 for kids.

the basement bar, photo by Bombette G. Marin

From its lounging area in the basement, visitors can view San Joaquin’s heavenly coastline, with glorious sun-soaked, pebbled beaches lapped by crystal warm waters. The basement also features bar, shower room and dining areas.

Santorini-inspired lounging area, photo by Bombette G. Marin

The receiving area, bar and dining hall features Bali and Thai style décor and furnishings. Guests will surely enjoy outdoor living with its Santorini-inspired lounging area perfect for lazy afternoons sunbathing.

It has a fully air-conditioned function room that can accommodate to a maximum of 250 persons for that perfect wedding, birthdays, seminars and trainings at P10,000 for five hours inclusive of wide screen, sound system and use of projector.

The resort also offers a luxurious massage treatment and exciting array of outdoor water activities for the summer such as jet-ski, banana boat and parasailing.

dining area, photo by Bombette G. Marin

To get to the resort, one can take a San Joaquin-Lawigan jeepney at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary in Oton or when in the city, at the market situated at the back of Robinsons Place Iloilo. Only 9.5 kilometers away from Barangay Tiolas, taking a jeepney will cost P10 per person and a tricycle at P20 per person. Paradise awaits and where beauty comes naturally. Entrance fee is consumable at P150 for adults and kids and P120 for senior citizens.

For more information, please contact Mr. Conrado “Yong” Amodia Jr. – Resort Manager at 09236112987 or Mrs. Erlyn Alunan, Municipal Tourism Officer at 09179857804. You can view them through Facebook: The Assemblage Point Resort and Convention Hub or send email at

Empowering Bitas Through Burihan Festival

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