Iloilo has good business and tourist attractions

By Johnny Novera, 08-07-2018

AS MENTIONED in our article last week, maybe it helps that a research firm, KMC Savills, has listed Iloilo as a booming metro in the Visayas.

We are glad that we are now getting noticed in other parts of the country and even abroad as a business and tourist destination.

For example, we had that visit in March this year of a 50-man business delegation from the UK, led by their own Philippine Ambassador, and see for themselves the reported growth and potentials of our city for business or investment.

On Aug. 23 to 26, 2018 the officers and members of the Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP) are also coming on a Fly-Drive Caravan to Iloilo and Guimaras. This is a good group because many of them are in business or in the profession.

"Going West", as they call their tour, should make us feel complimented that "they described Iloilo as the premier province and gateway of the Western Visayas region covering 42 towns and two cities spread over 600 square kilometers of charming countryside. With the four-lane widening of major highways and concreting of interior roads in the province, driving in Iloilo and even commuting is a pleasurable experience," they said.

They listed the following itinerary for their province-wide tour:

1) Ephrathah Farm - a sprawling resort and farm of rolling hills in Badiangan town, about 45 minutes from the airport, especially known for its dragon fruit plantation

2) Jaro - a heritage district where some ancestral homes of ilustrado families of Iloilo are still found to this day. The pioneering sugar farmers of Negros were Ilonggos and Iloilo became the first province in pre-war days to produce many millionaires and the first city to host a "millionaire's row" of residences.

3) Molo - Known as the origin of the delectable pancit molo, it is another antiquarian district with old structures like the St. Anne Church, with the gazebo in the plaza and the Yusay-Consing Mansion now known as Molo Mansion. A few steps away is the Iloilo Esplanade. This is an urban renewal project of the city government to revive a dead river and along it there is now a multi-phased promenade being built on both banks.

4) Tigbauan - It has the Southeast Asian Fisheries and Development Center or SEAFDEC on a 40-hectare site, with its research laboratories. A must-see is the Fish World Museum, the only kind in the country to give visitors an appreciation of the rich fish resources of the region.

5) Miag-ao - home to the iconic Santo Tomas de Villanueva Church that has graced many travel posters, and inscribed in the Unesco World Heritage List. Miag-ao is also known for its hand-woven hablon cloth as materials of the patadyong garments for women and the barong for men.

6)  San Joaquin - This western-most town of Iloilo's claim to fame is its roadside mortuary chapel of their public cemetery. This circa-1890 brick and stone Neo-Gothic chapel is elevated from the ground and enclosed by a stone gate, punctuated by angel statues and the risen Christ, with ornate funerary sculptures for a stylish transition into the afterlife. A side trip to the Garin Farm Pilgrimage Resort has become popular lately. It offers recreation such as boating, zip line and fishing. But its most photographed portion is the religious area with life-size sculptures depicting Biblical stories from the creation of the world to the ascension of Christ.

7)  Santa Barbara - The historic Santa Barbara Church is the site of the first raising of the Philippine flag in the Visayas in November 1898 by Ilonggo revolutionaries under General Martin Delgado.  Adding color to the momentous event is the dramatic means by which a woman smuggled the flag beneath her patadyong skirt into the town right before the Spanish guards.  A museum across the plaza immortalizes the exploits of Ilonggo freedom fighters during that shining moment in history. A giant flag on a 100-foot flagpole now proudly flies on the spot to symbolize the Filipino libertarian ideals.

We have taken this opportunity to list the foregoing tourist spots in our column along the idea we expressed before that many Ilonggos have not toured our own city and province. The irony is that some of us have even travelled to foreign countries.

Iloilo has good business and tourist attractions. Are you all aware of them?