We don’t need to sell you on a free holiday do we? But all the same, we figured we had to share the awesomeness of the recent I-S Xperience: Visit Iloilo. We flew to the destination courtesy of Cebu Pacific Air.
We were in town for the Dinagyang Festival (January 26-28) a colorful display, which celebrates the region’s native Atis Aborigines as well as the baby Jesus. Where we stayed, the Grand Iloilo Hotel, was right in the heart of the action. You could view the festivities (dance competitions featuring colorful feather-adorned costumes) right from the stairs leading up to the hotel entrance. Groups of mostly high schoolers took turns to shake what their mama gave them in often skimpy outfits to rousing traditional folk beats. It takes a little to get past the fact that they’re basically dancing in black face (but there’s no venom to it, remember this is a tribute to the native Atis aborigines).
Other than the main event, we also sampled local specialties like lapaz batchoy, a dish of pig innards and egg noodles in soup, and had seafood by the beach at Breakthrough Restaurant. The city’s not short of historical sites too. And to tour the city, we had great help from Pam at the Department of Tourism Region. Our favorites were the Casa Mariquit (the 200-year-old home of a former vice president) and Miag-ao Church, a gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage site built by the Spanish in the 1700s. On top of all that, we had some really great company. Our crew comprised a doctor, a pharmacist and police woman.
Missed the fun? We have another I-S Xperience: Thai Time planned for September. Phuket here we come!