A taste of Iloilo

sicilian pasta by afriques

I travel not only to see the sight but to taste the local cuisine and the culture.  When I went to Iloilo my tastebuds were programed to to savor the famous Lapaz Batchoy and biscotcho. Did I get to do it?  I wouldn’t miss it!

I arrived in Iloilo with a grumbling stomach.  I did not have anything but a cup of coffee in the airport with my uncle a couple of hours before they left Manila and before my own flight. When the shuttle service went to a halt in front of the  travelers’ lounge in SM Iloilo, I was dying to find a place to eat! I was famished!

What’s for lunch?

I’ve posted lunch here in my earlier post.  I had lunch at Green Mango.

This is lunch.  Hindi naman halata na gutom ako…

Before the 53 km road trip to San Joaquin!

Batchoy, I first tasted batchoy in a paper noodle cup. Yup! I’ve been eating it for quite some time and have not had any clue what the real thing tastes like. So before I took off the road to San Joaquin, I dropped by Ted’s.  The famous restaurant serving the authentic soup!.

Authentic Lapaz Batchoy from Ted’s

The term batchoy is derived from the Chinese ba chui. The founder of batchoy was a chinese business man who started it in the 50’s. The business originated in the market place of La Paz, IloIlo, Philippines.

The signature Ingredients of batchoy are rich pork and beef based broth filled with yellow noodles and topped with cut-up roast pork, chicharron, fried garlic, and scallions. The original recipe would have included pork  innards such as spleen and liver. 

The soup served hot is topped with shreds of pork cracklings and fresh egg. It goes well with white puto. An extra supreme bowl in Ted’s would cost you 65 or 80+. I’m not so sure anymore. hehehe 🙂 I think I paid P 120 for the entire meal [the batchoy, a pack of puto and a can of Pepsi).

As always, the original recipe beats everything including the cup noodles that I usually have. The broth is warm and flavorful while the noodle is tender and cooked to perfection.  A bowl of batchoy is so filling that you wouldn’t ask for any other meal after (at least for a couple of hours).  Grebeh! Busog na ako at half pa lang ung nauubos ko! 

Dinner after the long road trip

The road trip to San Joaquin was long and tiring. When I reached Ong Bun, I took a cold shower and headed out for dinner. This time I tried Uncle Tom’s. It’s a steak house right across Days Hotel near Sain Paul.


I had a baby back rib for dinner. A rib only (LOL) because I’m eating alone.  Initially, I though it was pricey since the place looks posh. When I came in, I learned that it is a self service, pay-as-you-order diner.

My meal was a baby back rib in a really good sauce, a cup of rice and coleslaw. The meal was great although I couldn’t help but compare it with the superb rib steak I had in Casa Verde in Cebu.

Oh they have free wifi pala

I was the last customer which explains the vacant seats across the entire room.

After a sumptuous dinner a brisk walking was needed. I took a stroll along Valeria street and passed by Coffee Break.  I thought I wanted something sweet.

And before leaving Iloilo, I did not pass the chance to dine in Afrique’s on  a Valentine’s day.

The place was small yet cozy. It is pretty good for a date I must say. But I came alone so some guests must have some thoughts…LOL.  I’m dating myself! Anyway, the staff was accommodating and nice.  What did I have?

Afrique’s Sicilian Pasta

I ordered their Sicilian Pasta.  I was curious so I asked for something I haven’t tried. It’s not an Ilonggo dish but certainly worth to try.  I must say I loved everything in this dish. The pasta was cooked to perfection while the sauce was rich and flavorful!.  It was perfect! I love the chucks of tomatoes and black olives as well as the perfectly cooked aubergines!  And if I may add, the serving was enough for two to be satisfied.  And since I have a date with myself that day, it was perfect for me and my other self…:)

So much flavor for my tastebuds? I had a few for culture I guess…

I went to Iloilo without any knowledge of their dialect. Hence, I got lost in translation.

If there are two things I can proudly use whenever I am in Iloilo, these are:

PALIHUG – it means asking for favor. As in when asking someone to pass on the fare to the jeepney driver or if you are to excuse yourself. They normally  say “palihug ko”

SA LUGAR LANG – We normally say “PARA” when we want to get off the bus or a jeep or any similar means of public transportation.  I don’t exactly know where it came from.  It doesn’t make sense but we use it.  In Iloilo, they say “sa lugar lang” or “lugar lang” to ask the driver to stop.  It’s equivalent to a more logical phrase “sa tabi lang” or “please stop on that spot(lugar).

There are so much to see, feel and taste but time was limited. I wanted to visit more churches, taste more local food and learn the dialect.  What I did was just a dent on the rich culture and flavor that is Iloilo…

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Ted’s Oldtimer Lapaz Batchoy
Robinson’s Place, Iloilo City, Iloilo

Valeria St., Iloilo City, Iloilo

Pre-Holy Week Visita Iglesia: Molo Church

Molo Church iloilo

” The Molo exudes a blatant expression of Gothic-Renaissance architecture, the one of its kind outside Manila. The interior is a fusion of Gothic and Romanesque architectures, there is a constant alternation between the overpowering features of Gothic and the recessive characteristics of Romanesque.”Explore Iloilo

One sunny morning after my exciting road trip to San Joaquin, I took a jeep to Molo to visit the “feminist church”, the Church of Saint Anne.  This is the nearest church with significant historical value other than the cathedral in Jaro. It was a quick trip before checking out and leaving Iloilo with so much more to see.

In honor of Saint Anne, the church was known to be a feminist church because of the two rows of sixteen female saints lined on both sides of the altar. These saints are Sta. Marcela, Apolonia, Genoveva, Isabel, Felicia, Ines, Monica, Magdalena, Juliana, Lucia, Rosa de Lima, Teresa, Clara, Cecilia, Margarita and Marta.

Sixteen female saints, one on each pillar

The Church’s interior is simple.  It is not as ornate compared to some other house of worships I’ve been to.

A statue of the church’s patroness, St. Ana, is housed in the retablo, along with statues of the Blessed Virgin and the Holy Trinity.

Murals and other paintings adorn the walls and ceiling of the church.  Mariano Mabunay and Jesue Huervas were commissioned to paint the murals in the church’s interior, which depict the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ.

Underneath the Church’s dome ceiling.
The baptismal chamber

When I arrived, there were a number of people gathering in and out of the church. I thought there was a mass so I hesitated because I might be disturbing the celebration.  Later, I realized that the people were waiting for the baptismal ceremony to commence.

One of the two beautifully crafted pulpits.

The parish priest usually delivers the gospel in a pulpit where he can see the entire church and all its attendees. I can only see these structures in old churches these days.  The modern church structure no longer replicate this traditional spot. The pulpits (there is one on each side) in St. Anne is beautifully preserved.

Typically, the church should have a plaza or a park and I find the one outside the church of St. Anne relaxing.  It is cool underneath the shade of large trees and the presence of well maintained vegetation.

Before I get to disturb the upcoming ceremony, I made a silent prayer for my safe flight back to Manila and an opportunity to go back and explore the rich culture in Iloilo.


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Pre-Holy Week Visita Iglesia: Miag-ao Church

miag-ao church iloilo

I was beginning to worry “big time” when all the jeeps passing by the waiting shed were south bound and nothing was heading back to the city. At nearly four  in the afternoon, the sun was still unforgiving while the ground was doing great in reflecting the golden rays. Soaking in sweat I patiently waited while trying to find a signal for my mobile phone. A bus stopped and I looked at the sign with disinterest (knowing that it’s going some place else) and voila! — A bus going to Iloilo City!

I took the ordinary bus.  I was standing on the aisle near the door.  I didn’t care if I get thrown in all direction.  I made sure that my feet was firmly planted on the floor.  It’s really not easy with a tripod on one hand and a camera bag dangling.  The bus was packed and it’s speeding like a roller coaster on the road! I only paid P15 from San Joaquin to Miag-ao, my next destination.

Miag-ao Church before sunset

The Church of Sto. Tomas de Villanueva is an Agustinian-built church and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mainly in Baroque style, it has a local feel due to the bas-relief (coconut tree) facade and the materials used.  It is made of carbonaceous limestone of soft yellow ochre color indigenous to the area.

If the sun in San Joaquin was unforgiving, the clouds in Miag-ao couldn’t hold their tears. It was cloudy and drizzling.

Miag-ao Church is one of the most amazing house of worship I have seen so far.  The artistic reliefs with Pinoy influence while the western grandeur blends in the yellowish color.  The sunset would have made it gold and glowing if it wasn’t for the sad weather.

before the rain
Historical Marker

The rain kept me from taking more shots. I wish I could have stayed longer.  When I get back to Iloilo, I will certainly visit Miag-ao Church again.  This time I will take more pictures and will try to get in.

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Pre-Holy Week Visita Iglesia: San Joaquin Church

San Joaquin Church iloilo

The day before I flew to Iloilo I was too busy.

After my evening shift I went straight to Pansol, Laguna to attend a colleague’s baby shower. That’s from Ortigas to Laguna.  I slept a bit when I got home in the afternoon before picking up my relatives in Makati to the airport.  We slept in the cold NAIA 3 because the flight I got for them was due to depart at 5 in the morning. When they got settled and have checked in, I then had to drop off my mom to the bus terminal.  It was past 5 in the morning when I reached home.  Thanks to LRT for making the trip to my apartment fast. I slept for an hour or two maybe without having anything packed for my 10:55AM flight to ILO.

Fast forward…

I woke up the following day at around 9AM.  I took a shower and headed out for a great journey.  I intended to hit the road very early in the morning so I can cover a lot in a day but I failed miserably. A lesson learned.

I don’t even know how to get to San Joaquin.  I read that this town is missed by most travelers so I decided to explore it first. It took me some time to find the terminal.  I got a lot of info, thanks to Mr. Google but it didn’t help much in terms of identifying the nearest one in my area.  Luckily, I found a blog that has a very detailed description of the Iloilo transport system including the fares for each destination (I did not record the website, unfortunately).

The market south of Robinsons Iloilo has jeepneys bound for San Joaquin.  I hopped in and started praying. It was past 11 in the morning and I am not sure what to expect. I thought we would have to wait for the vehicle to be full before departing. We only waited a few minutes and the jeep started to inch away.

When I decided to visit San Joaquin, I was aware that it is the southernmost tip of the province. Fifty three kilometers wasn’t really something that mattered to me until I realized how far that was! It came to a point where I was asking myself “Are we there yet?” On the other hand, it was a very rewarding trip. The view was good.  I get to see the coastline while traveling in a speed of light.  Yup! It was like riding a roller coaster!

It was almost three in the afternoon when I got a glimpse of the San Joaquin Cemetery. A few minutes more  and I am there standing in a clear square in front of the Church.

San Joaquin Church, Iloilo

San Joaquin is a very quiet place.  I took some shots before entering the church.  It was a very humid day. The Church was indeed old. From what I read it has a militaristic design but I did not see it until I came closer.

Rendicion d’ Tetuan

Rendicion d’ Tetuan or the Battle of Tetuan is depicted in the church’s facade.  At the time of the construction of the church, the news came with  the victory of the Spanish army against the crowned prince of Morocco.

It’s clean, simple and most of all, peaceful.
Historical Marker

Of all the churches I’ve visited, the San Joaquin Church is where I found the most peace.  As I sat on one of the long benches, I could not help myself but kneel and utter a silent prayer. I was able to commune with myself and God without being distracted. It was quiet and peaceful with only the birds and the gentle breeze that’s making music to my ears.

The peacefulness of this place will make you want to pray…

My time piece told me that it was almost half past three.  If I remember what I read right about the transportation in San Joaquin back to Iloilo City, it’s only until 3PM. I took my chances though because I cannot miss the opportunity to drop by the cemetery.

The Cemetery Chapel

The San Joaquin Cemetery was built in 1892 from coral stones. It is situated in a hill facing the vast sea. If it wasn’t for the obvious tombs and markers, you wouldn’t think that this place is a cemetery.  I arrived on foot and was greeted by the scarlet chapel and still and quiet surroundings. I bet the souls of these Ilonggos are  in peace.

who wouldn’t rest in peace in this place?

After taking some shots I decided to let the souls be in peace.  I finished the bottle of water I brought from the city and started walking towards the center of town in the hopes of catching a ride back to the city…

San Joaquin is indeed far and unexplored by most travelers but the trip was all worth it!

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An impromptu city tour

When I got to SM Iloilo I have no idea where to start. I circled  the not so huge mall and I couldn’t even decide where to eat.  To top it all, the city has no power at the time and it’s raining.  It always rain when I travel!

What’s for lunch?

I thought I wanted to get a taste of  the famous La Paz batchoy from Ted’s or Decos but the shoppes were full and I can’t hold the monsters in my tummy any longer. I spotted a small place near one of the mall entrances called Green Mango.  It sounded familiar but not quite. I decided to grab a chair and order. At the back of my head I was just tired and I needed a safe place to consult Mr. Google.

I ordered one of their platter.


rice ball, pancit canton, fish escabetche (don’t know how to spell it), a chunk of fried chicken

The city tour!

Lunch was good but my worries are starting to grow because the rain hasn’t completely stopped and my head is about to start singing Eva Peron…”Where do we(I) from here?…

I wandered a bit until a decided to text Ong Bun Pension to ask for directions. I was told that they can only hold my reservation until 6 in the evening! That added more panic. Fortunately (or I thought it was), the instruction was simple–Hop on a jeep with the sign “Iloilo City Proper” and drop off at the pension house. I boarded a jeep and went on my way. We’ve passed UP Visayas, the Sarabia Manor, the Provincial Capitol and a whole lot of streets. Among those streets I couldn’t see any sign of the pension house so I decided to drop off at Ledesma St. where the pension house is suppose to be located.

I walked along Ledesma St. but could not find the pension house.  I turned to Mr. Google once again and looked for landmarks. It was near a huge local supermarket and SM Delgado. When I saw the hard-to-miss supermarket I turned right and headed towards SM Delgado. The city is busy and so am I in being lost.

I found the hotel  in my list when I was researching Iloilo and It’s nice to finally see them in person aside from the fact that I can’t afford them. While walking, I passed by the riverbank.  I recognized the body of water as the Iloilo river.  The breeze is cool and relaxing, especially when your feet are sore and your whole body is drenched in sweat. I would have loved to stay and relax a bit but I am yet to find my bed!

Returning to the busy city, I passed by quiet street-Arroyo.  It looks like a slum area. Natakot ako because it kinda looks like a street in Tondo, Manila.  Isama mo pa ang questioning eyes of a few while I’m passing by.  I don’t mean to judge the place nor the people…my instinct told me to be careful.  Arroyo street ends in a Rotonda.  The funny thing is, it’s the same place where I started to walk. The area looks like a chinese town where lanterns adorns the center of the rotonda while the buildings show influences of the chinese architecture. So there I was! Back in Ledesma St. This time I walked on the other side.  It wasn’t really far from where I stand I raised my head and miraculously saw the sign! Ong Bun Pension House with its corresponding chinese characters.

As I draw nearer, I realized that the building was actually  the next one if I did not turn right towards the hard-to-miss supermarket.

There! I was able to go around Iloilo City in an instant because I got lost.  After having a cold shower, I slept comfortably…