By JESSICA PAG-IWAYAN
Miag-ao Church is one of the oldest churches in the country and is recognized as a World Herie Site by UNESCO
About 465 kilometers south of Manila lies a beautiful, tranquil city. Considered as the heart of the Philippines because
of its geographical location, Iloilo is also dubbed as “The City of Love.” Staying true to its moniker, Iloilo is home to kind-hearted, friendly, and soft-spoken Filipinos—the Ilonggos.
With its good people, rich history, and thriving economy, this urban place on Panay Island welcomes and embraces its visitors with a peaceful, laidback feeling, or as some tourists say, “it’s always Sunday vibe in here.”
Having its own international airport, a convention center, and numerous shopping malls, Iloilo is at the forefront of the meetings, incentive travel, conventions, exhibitions, or events (MICE) sector. It is no surprise that Iloilo is among the top local tourist destinations.
When staying in the city proper, one nof the best hotels to stay in is the Park Inn by Radisson Iloilo. Strategically located where everything is accessible, Park Inn makes everything convenient for all of its guests. From the hotel, different shopping malls and restaurants are within walking distance, while the airport and other tourist spots are just few minutes away.
Even though the city boasts of modern infrastructures, it still preserved its old churches, mansions, and houses from the Spanish era. From the Park Inn hotel, within a short drive, people can visit several churches such as the Miag-ao Church, Our Lady of Candles National Shrine, and Molo Church.
Built in 1731, Miag-ao Church is considered as one of the oldest churches in the Philippines and is also part of the UNESCO World Herie List. This church is famous for its sculptural relief carved on its façade such as the image of St. Christopher carrying the infant Christ while holding on to the coconut tree. According to the locals, the coconut tree symbolizes the resiliency of the people during the foreign occupation era.
Also known as Jaro Cathedral, Our Lady of Candles National Shrine is the home of the Mary, Lady of Candles statue. This statue is believed to be miraculous because of its growing size. According to the reports, it was just three feet tall when it was found hundreds of years ago, but now, it has grown to seven feet.
Made of white coral rock, the Molo church is considered as one of the most beautiful churches in the country. With the present of 16 images of women saints inside, it also earned the moniker “women’s church.”
Gastronomic food choices
Aside from beautiful churches, Park Inn by Radisson is also near the best food spots in Iloilo. With the help of Chef Tibong Jardeleza, a local culinary expert from Iloilo, Manila Bulletin Lifestyle went to the best local food and beverages establishments that offer gastronomic food choices in very affordable price.
For those who are into extraordinary, exotic food trip experience, Kawalian eatery is the right place to be at. Here is where the Soup No. 5 can be found. With “cow’s ball, dick, and intestine” as the main ingredients, this soup offers savory, sour taste with a light kick of natural sweetness.
For signature Ilonggo nilaga, there’s Salam-Ukan. For only P100per serving, have a taste of local nilaga made from carabao’s brain, musk, meat, etc.
For a barkada looking for a variety of local dishes, St. Martha’s restaurant is the perfect choice. This humble restaurant offers local food choices such as gabi with bagongon snail, fresh fish kilawin, and laswa. The price of each dish in Martha’s ranges for only P35 to P50.
Lastly, for those who are into pastries and desserts, there’s Bakery by Louis and Maridel’s—both are near Park Inn hotel. Of course, there’s also the original La Paz Batchoy from Netong’s and an aromatic cup of coffee from Madge Café.
A special Christmas
Officially opened just April this year, this Yuletide season is remarkable for Park Inn by Radisson Iloilo for this is their first Christmas in this beautiful place. To make this season even more special for every Ilonggos, the hotel lit up their 12-foot Christmas tree at the lobby.
With the theme “Paskwa sa Panai (Christmas in Panai),” the concept focuses on Iloilo City’s natural colorful and festive holiday customs. The hotel even partnered with Cham Lopez, Balai Hablon, and Atelier de Hablon for the Christmas tree design. Decorated with hablon, a handwoven textile originated in Miag-ao, this tree highlights and
celebrates the tradition and talents of local weavers and craftsmen.
“This event is very important for us because it’s our opening this year, having opened in April we are very excited,”
Socrates Alvaro, Park Inn By Radisson Iloilo general manager tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “Every Christmas tree lighting is a very important occasion for SM Hotels and Conventions Corp.”
As a way of spreading love and giving back to the community, the hotel also partnered with SOS Children’s Village Iloilo, a non-profit organization that support children who have lost parental care. According to Socrates, a part of the hotel’s festive hamper sale will go to the organization to help it in supporting the children who are under its care.
“To make a contribution to the community, we partnered with SOS Children’s Village Iloilo. During this festive season, 10 percent of the sale of our festive hampers will go to this organization,” Socrates ends.
With all that it offers—delicious food, unique culture, and rich history—surely Iloilo City will satisfy every tourist’s wanderlust. But more than these, it is the smile of the people that will warm one’s heart and will prove why it is the country’s one and only City of Love.
Credit belongs to : Manila Bulletin