cheap place to stay in the City of Smiles: Ong Bun Pension

Raving over the low cost air travel courtesy of Airphil Express (now PAL Express), my traveling feet got giddy again and my fingers took a few minutes to get myself a flight to and from the city of Smiles – Bacolod City! The moment I was done booking and confirming the reservation I asked myself “So what is there to see in Bacolod?”

After almost a year from booking this flight, I was reminded that I am supposed to make reservations and arrangements for this 5-day stay in the City of Smiles.


With a bit of research, I narrowed down my choices between my usual option, Ong Bun Pension and Check-Inn Hostel I read from a friend. A week before my arrival, I confirmed my reservation. The start of a couple of setbacks started a day before my scheduled flight. After learning that I have to be in the office on the day of my flight to run some tests on newly installed profiles, Ong Bun Pension called to let me know that my reservation for a single deluxe room cannot be confirmed. Reallly, I was totally disappointed.  More than disappointment, it was worry that’s creeping at the back of my head. I’m flying tomorrow without a clear hint of where to stay. When the panic subsided, I decided to check other options, hence, Check-Inn Hostel.   The reviews weren’t that bad and the photos were quite decent. I made an online reservation. The price difference from Ong Bun was a bit noticeable.  I only have approximately P 400/night budget for accommodation. The budget is too tight as I just came from my Singapore birthday trip and my resources aren’t that much. I need a place real quick so I closed my eyes and hit the reservation for a P 650/night single room.

I was about to go home from an unplanned assignment when I got a call from Ong Bun Pension asking if I my reservation request will still push through.  I was tempted to be give an act over the phone but I took it as an opportunity to get all the savings I can get (Ma-G lang talaga). I confirmed the reservation and advised the lady of my arrival time later in the day.  I had to cancel my Check-Inn reservation.

Ong Bun Pension House is strategically located in the center of downtown Bacolod, right in front of Bacolod Central Market…

sign 3

Ong Bun Pension House: My Official Iloilo Residence

A place to stay is one of the primary concerns when traveling. I’m quite “maarte” when it comes to accommodations.  I generally prefer a room with a private “loo” and if not too much, an air conditioning unit!

I booked my Iloilo flight sometime last July.  I thought there was a lot of time to research, budget and finalize an itinerary. Time flies as they say.  Ayun! before I know it, it’s time to fly na pala!. I had barely a week to find myself a place to stay while in Iloilo.  I’ve read numerous blogs and articles online.  I found Ong Bun Pension House. I was surprised to learn that they have one of the cheapest rates.  I began investigating what they offer. Would you believe that the cheapest room they have costs P 150 a night! What’s the catch?  Well…It’s a fan room and communal toilet and bath.

I’ve read a number of bad reviews after I finalized my reservation online.  A lot was said about how old the building is and misleading information from their website.  Customer service was one of the flaws mentioned too.  So I did not expect too much about the place.  I have to time to cancel the reservation and find a new one so I just hoped for the best and did not expect much.

I arrived in SM Iloilo (the end point of the shuttle service from the airport) at lunch time.  After having a sumptuous meal, I went to find my way to Ong Bun Pension House (which has a story of its own). I sent an SMS to the Pension House’s contact detail to ask for directions.  Apparently, SM Iloilo is sitting on the outskirts of the city proper near Jaro. I took a jeepney ride to the center of the city and found my way to Ong Bun Pension House.

The Pension House’s Lobby

The lobby was quite busy when I arrived.  I confirmed my reservation.  I signed the registration form just like any other hotels I’ve been in. I paid for the first night and got my key.

Room 101 on the ground floor.

Room 101: L-R Aircon Remote, Light switch,  Power key card

The room came with a pitcher and glass as well as a cup and flask for hot water.  Free hot and cold drinking water in every floor. Hence, the pitcher and flask. That’s a welcome surprise for me.  Although I don’t smoke, an ash tray is also available.

my messy bed pagdating ko,  Sobrang pagod!

The room was cool and clean. So is the bathroom.

Some things I wish could have been better are as follows:

  • The blue blanket was comfortable but I don’t think it’s well washed. 
  • The linens were not as white.  Maarte lang.  
  • The walls were totally bare. They could have at least hanged some cheap framed piece of art to create a home-away-from-home feel.
  • Toiletries were not included. I was not expecting some so I brought my own.  I was somehow used to having them available.
  • No shower curtain to separate the toilet and the bathing space. 
  • The bathroom floor was not angled to contain water from the shower to go down the drain. When I am taking a bath, the water is flowing in every direction. 

Overall, my two day stay has been comfortable.  I’d say the P495 a night rate was fair. Actually, it’s still cheap.