[Guimaras] ~ Visit to Sites on Land and Sea

A day on a red tricycle around an island town  – 05.01.15

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Guimaras

Unable to book a room in the island itself, it was a day of touring the island town of Guimaras – one filled with encounter with the SMALLEST PLAZA in the Philippines (and apparently, once a record-holder in Guinness as such), stops at THE PITSTOP for mango overload of pizza and pasta and at TRAPPIST MONASTERY for some yet again mango treats, setting foot in tall places to view other islands, sea and sky faraway, sand-collecting and water-testing in GUISI and ALUBIHOD beaches and a tour-ender at the town’s high spot which locals (and guest pilgrims) believe to be holy.

Although primarily known for its sweetest mangoes (which I am not a fan of), Guimaras got my interest after reads on how it has beaches and some interesting sites on land. It is also an island that can be conveniently accessed from the main land so for solo travelers like me who is forever challenged by expensive boat rides to good beaches, this town immediately offered a treat.

Having been able to buy a relatively value for money flight to Iloilo – relatively value for money because it was no one of those piso  (one-peso) fares which I  suck at availing, by the way, but it was an early flight so I had the entire day 1 to real traveling.

IMG_0536Smartphone problems. Because my powerbank still for dead since that Holy Week trip

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20150501_015605An early day at the airport indeed

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20150501_023523And I realized I still have those trip stickers

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20150501_053744Such a clean airport, and a provincial one at that! 

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20150501_054115One was faceless

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Arriving at such an early time in the morning, it was no trouble getting to the city proper via a shared van stationed at the airport. It was also a breeze getting my commute to the wharf where I was immediately on-board a public pump boat.

I managed to do all this commuting time-efficiently that while my appointment with my tour guide was at 8AM, I was at the pier in Guimaras about 30 minutes earlier. (It was on my latter part of this trip that I shall realize this appreciation for the efficient public commute system in Iloilo).

20150501_063515An odd name for a boat, isn’t it? 

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20150501_063704Because I wanted to document my time at the boat.

(And here we go again, photobomber)

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IMG_0547Mango indeed a source of pride in this place

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I first had to register at the Tourism Office at the pier where a lady guide explained to me the various points of interest. She was eagerly explaining to me but such died when I told her I already have a booked tour. I then went outside after registering then I was surprised when a man approached me and was sort of telling me that he was my tour guide. I was on-guard for a while because there be scams like that. He did say his name though so I just had to trust.

I had the itinerary on a text message on my phone but I was not in the mood then to really know so I just relied on him for where we would go.

Our first stop is this plaza not even 5 minutes away from the pier. Called SMALLEST PLAZA, it is the smallest in the Philippines and once held a world record in Guinness. It was small really so there was nothing to see. It could have been better too if they had some sort of history notes so tourists would know.

I even had this boo-boo when I asked the driver about the statue as it had no label. Apparently, it was Jose Rizal, our national hero. Okay, where is my sense of country and history, huh? 😀

IMG_0551Yep, we are in the right place

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IMG_0553This is the plaza – dead at that time of day

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IMG_0556Hmm you are Rizal

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IMG_0558My window for the rest of the day

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20150501_073526My first viewpoint shares Iloilo City from afar

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IMG_0613Cumulonimbus cloud kind of day

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Our next stop was supposed to be the “pasalubong” center but it was still closed so we went to another closed establishment MUSEO DE GUIMARAS which was under renovation. I still took my photos and just tried my best to ask about local life from my guide – like how it seemed like everyone was still sleeping which was odd in provinces where people are usually up more early than those in urban ones. My guide reminded me though that it could be because it was a non-work holiday. (Oh yeah, and there I was making him work. To be fair though, I sensed no annoy in him).

IMG_0565When asked who that statue is, no one in particular but apparently a symbol of their main sources of livelihood in Guimaras – fishing and farming

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IMG_0568Closed. Sadly. I peeked in in attempt of seeing something but saw none

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IMG_0571As if he is to ride that cloud

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IMG_0572This space which according to my guide gets busy on Sundays as this is where pigs (living ones!) are sold

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IMG_0577Now at the center of town

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We first passed by the famous PitStop restaurant where they serve the mango pizza but my guide advised that we first go to THE TRAPPIST MONASTERY so I can check out some pasalubong / take-homes which I can buy on our way back. It was still early though that stocks were few. I just then spent some quiet time inside. (I am not a religious person but I have always loved the quiet and peace when inside such structures.

20150501_075647Did not explore the compound though

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IMG_0583Each, I assume, means something to someone who visited

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IMG_0587Sole person in here

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IMG_0589Minimal

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IMG_0593Made for someone

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Next stop could have been a visit to this mango plantations but it was closed due to the holiday. (Hmm, a tip then to not visit when it’s holiday!) I had to force some capture from outside the gate.

20150501_081050Near yet so far

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It was about 9-ish when my stomach started asking for food – which was of right timing as our next stop was at THE PITSTOP where I got to try the first mango pizza in the country. I am no fan of the fruit as mentioned (except when used in shakes) but it was food unique to the two so I had to try. I saw mango spaghetti in their menu so without much thought, I decided to try that as well.

IMG_0596 Busy for that time

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20150501_081658Their banner food

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IMG_0598It was quite the wait though (especially for an impatient person like me! )

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20150501_081922Just so I remember

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IMG_0600 Options

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20150501_082127Ain’t it weird how they blurred everyone else but the host

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20150501_084204First my pasta

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20150501_085811

Finally, my pizza arrived!  (And my pose was sooo awkward)

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20150501_085853

Because I wanted a closer one

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IMG_0609Because I could not eat it all there

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IMG_0615After mango pizza, this mango plantation

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20150501_091852As if those clouds are reflections

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20150501_092648Lawi Bay from another viewpoint

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The last stops were meant for the beaches (yey! save the best for last) – first at the southern end GUISI BEACH. This came as the best surprise of the tour due to this amazing view from the lighthouse. 

The lighthouse is, according to Google, an 18th century Spanish colonial structure. The main structure was in ruins already but the metal lighthouse is climbable still. One just has to be careful at the top as according to my guide, there is a spot that is weak.

IMG_0619 This kind of white dust on the way to Guisi

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IMG_0622View from the path leading to the lighthouse

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IMG_0625Old but standing

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IMG_0627From inside

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IMG_0631 Was first scared to go up because rust makes the structure look weak

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20150501_101358From one of those holes

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IMG_0636Shades

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IMG_0640The boat approaches

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20150501_101841

20150501_101515Now it’s closer

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IMG_0641From where I was 

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20150501_100354 Later, I shall be there

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20150501_101735

Because my guide was being nice to take my photos

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20150501_101901I seemingly could not let go of this spot

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20150501_102220All blue

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20150501_102954Panoramic

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From where we were parked, it was about 5 minutes of walk to the lighthouse. From there, one could walk through the rocks to get to the beach.

The sand was not fine but the water was clear and clean.

IMG_0649From this side now. LIghthouse somewhere hidden

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IMG_0655Rock formations from my left

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IMG_0654One of the few resorts in Guisi Beach

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IMG_0658I was unable to capture but these kids playing with cigarettes in the waiting (I think the rule is to make sure that cigarette doesn’t lose fire while they were swimming)

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20150501_104157Guisi Beach in a photo

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20150501_092216Because this was my kind of life that day

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Next and second to last stop was at ALUBIHOD BEACH which was the busiest beach in town. We went to a popular resort called Raymen Beach Resort which I was supposed to book for the night. They had no more fan room, however and I felt Php1,500 for a night was too much. I felt happy with such decision because when I got to visit, there was just too many people in the beach and the place seemed like really one for big families and groups of friends – which was not the vibe I was after for this trip.

Sand is finer than in Guisi but a lot busier too that it is difficult to find a spot in the water, and it did not help that swimming area was pretty limited. That did not stop me from wading though.

IMG_0662 Definitely busier than Guisi

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IMG_0665My canvas bag now all dirty from the day’s trike ride

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It looked like it was about to rain so I decided to cut my wade at Alubihod and off we were to our last stop at BALAAN BUKID, which is a high point which according to Kuya, gives best view of Iloilo. I later on knew that it was also a known pilgrimage site and some devotees were even put on the cross during Holy Week. That day also happened to be that community’s fiesta but there was no activity when we arrived or maybe it was in some other area.

IMG_0675Land with hints of red on the way to the Balaan Bukid

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IMG_0682There you are, Iloilo

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IMG_0686

IMG_0690Gray

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20150501_145117This cross built because mountain perceived to be holy and protects the town from natural disasters

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20150501_145410Wide

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IMG_0691Booth before off the boat-out

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There’s a version of this to sights on sea so would definitely be back. I shall see you, nearby-Guimaras islands, including one named Turtle! By then too, must take home those sweet (real) mangoes, which for this one I felt I had no drive to carry as I move from one place to next.

HOW TO GET THERE: 

I flew to Iloilo via Cebu Pacific, took the shuttle van to SM Iloilo where I then rode a jeepney to Ortiz Wharf.

It was a 15-minute public ferry ride from there to Jordan wharf in Guimaras. Fare at Php14. There are various boats parked so just look for the boat name printed / written on your ticket.

Land tour cost is at at Php1, 200 via a tricycle which can be pricey for a solo traveler. However, public transport is not that easy in the area that if you want to see as much, getting a tour could be the best option.  For bigger groups, a multicab costs Php2,000 and Php 3,500 for an SUV or airconditioned van.

You may contact Gerald Padojenog at +639084748122.

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