Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Unearthing the Sweetness of Guimaras (Part 1 of 2)

Not too many people know Guimaras. It's an island nestled between Bacolod and Iloilo and has once gained popularity due to the issue of oil spill when a boat sank within the vicinity. But what many people do not know is that Guimaras is known to be the "Mango Capital of the World."  They are home to the sweetest mangoes I've ever tasted, and their festival is named after it's harvest that happens every April called "Manggahan Festival".

sweet, sweet mangoes!

Guimaras hospitality
fruit stand full of mangoes!


It only takes 15 minutes and PhP13 from Iloilo Pier to get to Jordan Wharf, the entry point to the island. They have a tourism desk right at the pier that regulates all transportation for the tour and going to your hotel. They will also give you a map indicating what are the tourist spots in the island.

From the pier, we hired a multi-cab to tour us around the island and take us to our resort at PhP1,000. The first stop was the Pasalubong Center.

Guimaras Capitol
souvenirs from Pasalubong Center
nicely decorated kiosk
seaweed pickle...doesn't sound appealing to me :)

And then we went to The Trappist Monastery


facade of the church

their gift shop
  After which we went to Guisi Lighthouse...
the ruins
Guisi Beach

entrance to the ruins

old light house

view of the sea from the light house

long stretch of white powdery beach

We decided to skip the other spots as we were too tired already. We went to Raymen's Beach Resort without any reservation. To our dismay, the only available room they have is on the 3rd floor, access of which is a spiral staircase. This won't work for us. They have another one, a beach front room, for PhP2,200. We were supposed to take it, but we didn't like the feel of the resort. It looks so crowded with it's hotel-like building, not to mention their staff was rude and impolite.

We decided to check out the resort beside it, Alobijod Cove. We were greeted by a nice attendant, who called the manager. The manager gave us the option to get the fan room, good for 6 for only PhP 1,500. The other one is a very nice newly built room, and very large with a/c and ref for Php 2,500. There were just 3 of us so it's a bit costly, especially that we are planning to stay for 2 nights. In the end, we decided to stay in Alobijod Cove because their customer service is superb, one I wouldn't mind paying extra. It turned out to be a good decision because the food was excellent and cheap, their service was above average and their staff are polite and always wear smiles.

here's their contact number

fronting our resort

Dumaguete : A Quick Stop

The fastest way to get to Siquijor if you're coming from Cebu is via the Dumaguete route. Naturally, this was the path we've chosen. And because my cousin joined us at the last minute and didn't get the chance to purchase airfare tickets at a cheap price, he decided to take the bus from Cebu to Dumaguete leaving us with a few hours of idle time while waiting for him.

We waited by the Boulevard where I encouraged my husband to go around and take some pictures. Here are some snaps.

tree at the boulevard

Belfry Tower

facade of the church

inside the church


it will be cool to drive this around :)

Our national hero

park across the church

my hubby saw this naughty sign :)

home of the famous sylvannas ... my favorite!

we took a picture of the ferry schedule for reference :)

Siquijor Demystified

The month of February has been a busy travel month for me. The first stop for the month was the mystical island of Siquijor.

To get to Siquijor, you have to pass by Dumaguete, where you could take the ferry from there which would run for about an hour. 

We were able to book flights from Cebu to Dumaguete thus saving ourselves from the long and agonizing land travel. My cousin on the other hand, wasn't lucky enough to get that privilege as he came with us on a last minute decision. We waited for him at the Boulevard while he took the 3-hour bus ride from Cebu - Santander, then the 20-minute ferry ride to Dumaguete.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by this scenery, and thus the promising adventure begins.

We hired a multi-cab to tour us around the island for PhP 1,500. Siquijor is a small island, only 72 kms. in circumference so you can actually go around it within the day.  Our driver took us to the usual tourist spots which inlcude the Lazi Convent, and right across it is the Lazi Church. He took us to the Capilay Spring Park and to the 400-year old Balete Tree.
Lazi Convent - oldest convent in Asia

400-year old Balete Tree

the mystical road of Siquijor

Capilay Spring Park - no entrance fee needed although i would find it weird to swim along with the fresh water fishes!

Lazi Church
sorry not big enough to be readable :)

inside Lazi Church

inside Lazi Convent

hallway of Lazi Church

outside Lazi Church
this is still inside the Lazi Convent

Because one of our companion had a knee injury, we skipped the Cambugahay Falls and the Cantabon Cave, intending to do it on the following day.

Part of the trip was to check out the Salagdoong Beach Resort, a government-run resort. We had a tentative booking at Casa de la Playa, however, when we got there, we were disappointed with the beach line, plus the way to the rooms from the beach was a steep stairway, which would not be friendly for our injured companion. It took all of my charm and convincing powers to ask the driver to take us back to Salagdoong Beach Resort, which luckily, he did.

So we ended up staying in Salagdoong Beach Resort. Fortunately, their duplex cottage is available. It was originally PhP1,600 good for 3 and you have to pay an extra PhP300 for the extra person. Since there were four us, I again turned on my haggling prowess and managed to get the room for PhP1,500 only, without the extra charge.

view of the beach from the slide

the beach line

that's the slide behind me

the duplex cottage
Despite the fact that there was more brownout than needed, we enjoyed our stay there. Their food has huge servings and reasonably priced. The staff was friendly, too. Of course, we were extra friendly and extra considerate (afraid of the rumors about the island) so we always don on our best smile every time we ask for something. But you can never go wrong on a weekend by the beach with good food, good music and great company.