BY RICKY MONTECILLO
June 12, 2016
I usually go to places which I know nothing about. It makes the trip more exciting and it opens up my mind to the wonders a new place has to offer. So when my wife Tina told me that she and her friends from work wanted to go to Guimaras, I was curious.
I looked forward to another adventure.
Last April, we flew via PAL to Iloilo. Lucky us my wife’s colleague from work had someone take us by SUV to the Port, Ortiz Wharf. From the Ortiz Wharf to Jordan in the Guimaras Island, it’s a short ferry ride and it cost only about 15 pesos per person.
The locals use the ferry to shuttle from Guimaras to Iloilo. It’s amusing observing the different kinds of people, especially ordinary folks in the province.
The ports are crowded and lacks space. But in most crowded places in the Philippines ( markets and streets), somehow the chaos has its own system and it works out. This may be disturbing for people, both local or foreigners, who are used to first world practices such as lining up. But it seems to work out here even as it is a bit uncomfortable to some.
Upon docking in Jordan, it felt like we were transported back in time. The place looked and felt like a backward island. It is very provincial, considering that it was just a stone’s throw from the progressive Iloilo City. Anyway it added to the ambiance of going away. There is something about going around the country, outside of the major cities, where you get to experience the provincial life.
Apparently, before Boracay became popular, Guimaras used to be a very popular tourist destination in the 70s mainly for its islands, beaches and mangoes. And oh the mangoes! Mangoes are the major industry in Guimaras. They take pride in the exotic and varied types of mangoes. They are very protective too of their crop. They do not allow other types of mangoes to grow in their island.
In fact they have a National Mango Research Center in the island where they grow different types of mangoes and where they do research for the industry. We went there and saw the many seedlings and mango trees.
Riding the multi-cab from the Ortiz port going to Jannah Glycel Beach House in Nueva Valencia, Guimaras, one could see acres upon acres of mangoes trees! We stopped over in a side street to get a good view of the thousands of mango trees.
We stayed at the Jannah Glycel Beach House – Guimaras Island. The place is a nice, clean and homey Bed and Breakfast. It has a beach front and it is owned by a French guy married to a lady from Zamboanga. During our stay the owners were also there and they were the ones taking care of things, which made our stay homey and very comfortable. We paid only 2,500.00 per night with free breakfast.
From there we were able to tour the Island via Mulit-cab on the day we arrived. During our road trip, we were able to go to some of the sights such as the old antique light house called Guisi Light House, Trappist Monastery, National Mango Research Center and the Holy Family Hills.
For lunch we ate at the popular Pit Stop Restaurant where they serve the island’s delicacies such as the mango sisig, mango pizza, adobo with mangoand the bulalo with mango. I was curious about how these dishes would taste with mangoes but to my surprise they all tasted very good and I realised that mango goes well with some Filipino food! Of course the green and ripe mango shakes were the best! To top it all the prices were quite cheap and we were all satisfied.
The next day we woke up early for breakfast and also to get ready for our Island hopping tour. We got a banca for the half day, and we got to see several beautiful islands. There were also awesome rock formations and a cave too where we entered and took some photos. The nice thing about Guimaras is it’s not as crowded as the other popular destinations in the Philippines and it makes island hopping more intimate and enjoyable.
The weather was very hot but the fresh provincial air and warm gentle hospitality of the Guimaras people made our stay a relaxing and enjoyable getaway! Mangoes, beaches, and wonderful sights! There are actually much more to see in Guimaras but our time and schedules didn’t permit it. Hopefully, there will be a next time!