Friday, May 20, 2016

Lagaw Ta Western Visayas for the 14th Fiestas in the City



Get ready to be entertained at this happy fiesta celebrating the charm and beauty of the Western Visayas Region. Immerse in the festive atmosphere of local culture, food and celebration in this year’s Fiestas in the City organized by the Department of Tourism Regional Office and SM City Iloilo on May 23-29, 2016 at the SM City Event Center.

a celebration of water from River Tangyan of Igbaras by Tangyan Festival, Igbaras, Iloilo

Now on its 14th year and with this year’s event theme, “Lagaw ‘Ta Western Visayas!,” Fiestas in the City opens on May 23 (Monday) Opening Program and Opening of Travel and Trade Fair with performances featuring the Claravall-Gonzalez School of Classical Ballet and Rock Opong of the Voice Kids Philippines at 3 p.m., SM City Event Center;  May 25 (Wednesday) Sandiyahan sa Oton, a watermelon fun day with lectures, watermelon carving competition and watermelon eating and freebies courtesy of East-West Seed Philippines and the Local Government of Oton  at 4 p.m., SM City Event Center.

watermelon carving for Sandiyahan sa Oton by East-West Seed Philippines

May 26 (Thursday) The Awarding of Operation Water F’All Heroes by the Department of Tourism Regional Office with the special performance of Tangyan Festival of Igbaras, Iloilo at 10:30 a.m., SM City Event Center and Cooking Demo by Ilonggo Chefs Tibong Jardeleza of Rafael’s La Cocina del Sur, Chef Miguel Cordova and Andrea Gorriceta at 3:00 p.m., SM City Event Center; May 27 (Friday) The Western Visayas Map Food Display featuring the iconic local delicacies of every provinces in Western Visayas at 3:00 p.m., SM City Event Center; May 28 (Saturday) A Grand Festival Parade from Kalibo Ati-atihan Festival of Aklan, Pontevedra Guyum-Guyuman Festival of Capiz, Manggahan Festival of Guimaras, Dinagyang Festival of Iloilo City and, Bacolod MassKara Festival of Negros Occidental at 2 p.m., SM City Event Center;  May 29 (Sunday) is the celebration highlight with a parade of beauties for the 2016 Sagala of Festival Queens, 3 p.m. at the SM City Event Center.

Bandi of San Joaquin , Iloilo featured on display

From the MassKara Festival in Bacolod City to the Carabao race in Pavia, Iloilo, Western Visayas is renowned for its festivals and fiestas. But there is so much more on offer than these well-established celebrations as every single city, town and barangay in the region celebrates local festivities at some point every the year.

Our fiestas and festivals symbolises the very essence of our region. They are colourful, vibrant, usually extremely noisy but always great fun.

The nature of each fiesta and festival depends on its origin. Many lie in religious feasts, often honouring a community’s patron saint that may involve serious religious processions with marching bands. There are those that have deep historical meaning to the locals. However, almost all celebrations are accompanied by street parties, firework displays, local games, pageants and much general merrymaking. Spanish domination in the past made a major impact on our culture, cuisine and traditions of our fiestas.

The 14th Fiestas in the City is an annual Heritage Month activity celebrated every May. The celebration is also brought to you by the province of Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz, Negros Occidental, Guimaras, Antique and the cities of Iloilo, Bacolod and Roxas, East_west Seed Philippines, the municipalities of Oton and Igbaras.



Saturday, May 14, 2016

Exploring Exciting San Joaquin



Offering up beautiful landscapes, unique culture, fun-filled festival and adrenaline pumping activities, it’s not a question of what to see and do in San Joaquin, rather, it is a question of knowing which sights and experiences simply cannot be missed.


The Roman Catholic Church of San Joaquin  is made of gleaming coral stone called “sillar,” shaped in rectangulars of a given dimension was constructed in 1859 and finished in 1869 is considered as the most militaristic church in the Philippines. Its unique bas relief sculpture entitled “Rendicion de Tetuan” which 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. The sculpture is so intricate that even the expression of wounded soldiers is visible. Skilled masons, famous sculptors and celebrated painters and craftsmen from Spain and Mexico were employed for the construction of the church. Father Tomas Santaren, a Spanish priest, built the church with himself as master architect, assisted by a layman engineer, Don Felipe Diaz, and with an array of skilled masons, famous sculpture, celebrated painters and craftsmen from Spain and Mexico. On February 4, 1896, Father Santaren died and was buried right under the altar of the church. In 1974, the church was declared a national shrine. In 1982, reconstruction and restoration of the church was initiated by the National Historical Committee.


The Roman Catholic Cemetery is known for its Camposanto, a grandiose hexagonal mortuary chapel elevated on a 20-step stairway flanked a stone balustrade on both sides. This coral stone walled cemetery with an iron gate is located along the highway leading to the town center.  Before you enter the cemetery and go beyond its gate intricate design, welcomes you with its catchy phrase attached to the arched iron grill above the main gate saying “What you are I was. What I am, you will be.” The two pillars supporting the decorative archway were ornately carved with flowers and tendrils showing the influence of Gothic architecture.


The town is an important ecotourism destination for a quality diving, swimming, snorkelling and aquatic study activities. Due to its array of fish varieties and species of invertebrates, plants and micro-organisms, the town has identified networks of  Marine Protected Areas places along its coasts that protect its municipal’s incredible variety of marine life and help sustain its communities. As an important maritime area, San Joaquin has a special responsibility for the conservation and management of its marine and coastal environment and its resources. In order to establish a representative network of marine protected areas, San Joaquin’s marine environment has been classified and a range of habitats and ecosystems were represented.

Of the 15 Marine Protected Areas that spans from it first Barangay nearing the border of the neighboring province of Antique, the Kulyatan Marine Sanctuary in barangay Sinogbuhan and the Bugnayan Point Marine Sanctuary and Park in the bordering Barangays of Lawigan and Igcadlum are two of the more popular and frequently visited MPAs of this town.


The scenic viewing decks of Kulyatan can be reached through bamboo bridges suspended in between huge coral rocks connecting it from the main areas. The site has a floating cottage, cottages for overnight stay, mini pavilion, refreshment huts and tourist information center. An environmental fee of P50.00 in charged upon entrance. Life vests and snorkeling gears are also for rent.  The Bugnayan Point Marine Sanctuary and Park’s most recognizable landmark is its rock formations. The rock formations are placed in such close proximity in a land area of 2,000 square meters. A few well-constructed steps will take you straight to the park. The rock formations do not only add aesthetics to the landscape but also provide excellent vantage points from which to better view the coastline.


Garinfarm is an inland resort that has all the adventure you need on agriculture, leisure and pilgrimage.  It offers extensive farm attractions open to the public. These inland resort offer unique experiences to see, feel, and taste agriculture at its source. It has a lot of activities and is great for friends and families especially the children. Enjoy gorgeous mountain views while hiking up to and down from its 480-step viewing deck at the base of its 100-feet Blazing Cross. On your way to the steps from the main base, you will see nine life-sizes religious scenes from Creation until the Ascension of Christ. Visitors can also avail of golf carts on their way to and from the viewing deck. It is situated in Purok 11, poblacion and opens daily from 8 am until 9 pm. Jeepneys from the city bring their passengers direct to the entrance of the resort


Bandi is the perfect sweet snack is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth in no time. Bandi, is a delicious candy made of peanuts with caramelized brown sugar topped with sesame seeds.  Peanuts make a classic brittle. The traditional way of making it is by heating a big saucepan then put-in sugar, water, and a little salt. Stir and bring to a boil till it caramelizes. Add the peanuts (toasted) then stir using a wooden spoon. Immediately remove the pan from the heat.  Quickly spoon out bite-size pieces onto the layers of banana leaves that serve as its tray.  Then allow to cool during which they solidify. They are crunchy, sweet, aromatic, with loads of peanuts and sinfully decadent and addictive. This popular livelihood endeavour is ideal in the provinces’ peanut producing areas. Barangay Qui-anan in is the home of Bandi, banana chips and bucayo

San Joaquin is a 2nd Class municipality and is 85 kilometers south from Iloilo City. It is the last town south of the province. It has a land area of 23,135 hectares subdivided into 85 barangays. It annually celebrates its patronal fiesta every January 3 in honour of San Joaquin. Market days are every Wednesdays and Fridays.

To get to the town, one can take a San Joaquin jeepney at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary in Barangay Mohon, Oton or when in the city, take any bus at the Antique Terminal in Molo or at the market situated at the back of Robinsons Place Iloilo. For more information, please contact Erlyn Alunan – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09176619120.



Sunday, May 1, 2016

44 and Still Counting for Pavia's Carabao-Carroza Festival



Pavia, Iloilo annually celebrates their friendship with carabaos (Asian water buffalo) every May 3rd. 


Beginning in 1971, this festival has an obvious cultural significance. The people of Pavia welcome their guests and visitors to the celebration with a grand carroza parade from Barangay Ungka-I to Pavia National High School.


Eighteen barangays are well-represented, each with gaily-decorated carrozas filled with the barangay’s farm produce or main backyard industry. The barangay muse in a typical baro’t-saya serves as the carroza’s centrepiece and competes for the festivals fairest, the Festival Queen Search on the eve of the parade day. It was in May 3, 1975 that the festival had their queen, Lourdes Golez de Asis.

the first Carabao-Carroza Festival Queen, Lourdes Golez de Asis, my aunt

During the annual parade, some carabaos don creative costumes or colourfully painted all over. The event is highlighted by the friendly carabao race.


The carabao has been every farmers’ constant companion and it has taken a great role in shaping our local history. Popularly known as the national animal of the Philippines, carabaos symbolizes, strength, power, efficiency, perseverance and most of all, hard-work.  They are the alternative to a tractor or to a machine-powered plow that is why they are considered the farmer’s bestfriend.


The Agro-iIdustrial town of Pavia is located 9.6 kilometers or a 25-minute drive north of Iloilo City. The town is politically subdivided into 18 barangays and is known to be the smallest in the whole province in terms of land area. Pavia is bordered by the municipalities of Oton, San Miguel, Sta. Barbara, Leganes and Iloilo City. For more information, please contact, Mrs. Susan Jovero – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09173006041.













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