Iloilo (province)Panay in the Philippines.
- - provincial capital
- Iloilo International Airport. Iloilo has an airport of "international standards" about 40 km outside the city, replacing its old airport nearer to the downtown. A flight from Manila to Iloilo takes about a hour.
- Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines fly from Manila and Cebu.
- Cebu Pacific also fly from Davao, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos and Puerto Princesa.
- Iloilo City has the fourth busiest airport in the country after Manila, Cebu, and Davao.
- International flights are also by Cebu Pacific from Hong Kong and Singapore.
- From the airport, the commuter vans offer great value to get to the city, at each. They stop at SM City mall.
By busIloilo is a transportation hub of Panay and nearby islands including Boracay and Guimaras. There are several bus companies that provide transportation to the other major urban areas of Panay - Kalibo in Aklan, San Jose in Antique, Roxas in Capiz, and Passi City in Iloilo.
The Ceres bus company (and others) provide bus services up to Manila via the RoRo (roll-on, roll-off) route.
By boatFour major seaports, the International Port at Loboc, the Domestic Port at Fort San Pedro, the Muelle Loney Port serving the Iloilo to Bacolod trips and the Ortiz Port serving the Iloilo to Guimaras trips. Iloilo has the only true international port in Western Visayas and the is one of the busiest ports in the country.
There are also PhilTranco buses from Cubao, Quezon City to Iloilo City that use the ro-ro ferries.
There are also a number of Ro-ro ships in the city.
Experience DinagyangStep up to the beat, enjoy the sound of drums and bare feet stomping into the pavement in perfect unison, and join the locals dancing in the streets with a bottle of beer. The Dinagyang Festival is celebrated every 4th Sunday of January in Iloilo.
Stay a week longer and experience the Jaro Fiesta. Visit the Jaro Cathedral and join the devotees, get yourself invited in a Jaro resident's house to experience Filipino hospitality, and also pass by the temporary market set up in the Plaza (park) across the cathedral. (Lately, the Jaro Plaza market has acquired a dowdy reputation for its second-hand clothes stalls, and preponderance of pickpockets, so exercise caution.)
If your timing is right, i.e. if the Chinese lunar calendar's aligned with your lucky stars, the Chinese New Year falls right smack within a week or two of the Dinagyang or Jaro Fiesta. The Iloilo Chinese Lunar New Year celebration has built up quite a reputation for a decent enough food fest, dragon dances, a variety show and fireworks. Worth staying around for.
Paraw RegattaClaimed as the oldest traditional craft in Asia, the Paraw Regatta is a race among seafarers on colorful sailboats called Paraws in the Iloilo Strait between Guimaras Island and the city of Iloilo. The present-day paraw managed to maintain its original design from the sailboats of the first settlers from Borneo who were in search of a peaceful home in 1212 AD. Surviving centuries, the paraws have become a vital part of the Filipino seafaring life. The first race started in 1973 with the mission to preserve the historic value of the paraws. It is held every 3rd weekend of February at Villa Arevalo District in Iloilo City. Today, the event has grown from being a boat race to a festival with various interesting and exotic activities.
For something quirky, do join the early morning crowd at Madge's Cafe in Lapaz Market. Traditional coffee with made-to-order breakfast treats.
Gorge on the crispy tender lechon kawali of Ramboys, and be surprised at how light the meal is on your wallet.
Tatoy's and Breakthrough in Villa are top on the list of visitors from the Big City. Ilonggos take seafood for granted and wonder what the fuss is all about, but these two places do them very well and they have their strong supporters among residents preferring one over the other.
The Avenue mall in Smallville offers a good range of choices (and do check the other places in Smallville as well). Not inexpensive but as the owner says, "we need to educate the taste buds of the Ilonggos."
Before you leave, take home the ginormous siopao of Roberto's, the enormous hamburgers of Perri Tod's and the "better than Bulacan's" buko pies of Nang Palang.
Iloilo is the home of the famous (and notorious) Mang Inasal, but for truly good bbq chicken, try Barrio Inasal in Aurora Subdivision. Takes long to order but because they do them only when you order them. Non-aircon but the place is breezy enough; a really cold soda (soft drink) helps.
For Chinese food, there's Ocean City, Summer House and Mansion House; all great value for money. There's even a German place behind the Jaro Cathedral, and a few really good Thai restaurants. Increasingly, there's plenty of Korean all over the place, largely patronized by the sizable local Korean community.
Smallville - the place is great. A lot of restos to choose from. You can actually hop from one place to another because it's like a village of restos - thus the name Smallville. Regatta's grill and Maki give you the best food with reasonable prices. There are also places with live bands to keep you up and about till closing time. There are also shops brewing coffee that you must try just before you head for home.
If you want to take it slow, there are a few coffee places spread all around the city, notably those of the Coffee Break chain. Do visit their Lopez Mansion branch in Jaro and take a glimpse of the mansion as you sip your latte.
Do the Miagao route and finish up in San Jaoquin for lunch (right on the border of Antique province).
Do Guimaras and stop by the Trappist monastery for some prayer and jam. If you can, stay overnight in one of the many pocket resorts where the peace and quiet are in sharp contrast to the "SM by day, Malate by night" feel of Boracay.