This post is long overdue. Work got in the way, but the main reason it took so long was because my harddrive crashed, taking with it 500 GB worth of photos, videos, and documents. Yes, including the ones from Iloilo. Luckily, I hadn’t erased most of them from the SD cards – the problem was, I didn’t have enough space in my laptop. So I had to buy a new harddrive and get my old one fixed, and get some work done in the middle of all that. And before I knew it I already had to leave for Hong Kong.
Anyway, lesson learned. Always back up your back ups! AND don’t wait til your laptop’s memory drive hits maximum capacity. Just the day after my harddrive gave up on me, my laptop refused to turn on. Thank goodness for Google for providing a list of quick solutions. I literally jumped for joy when it turned on in Safe Mode.
So, back to Iloilo.
One of my favorite trips so far. While the Dinagyang festival was the main reason we booked the flight, there were a lot of other things that made our four-day stay enjoyable. There were many activities to do, sights to see, food to eat – I wouldn’t mind going back (in fact, I’ll be there again this coming April with my family!).
And when you have these two as your travel companions, trust me, there will never be a dull moment:
Meet Dijo and Monica. Don’t be fooled by the serious expressions on their faces – they’re crazy! Watch out for them – they’re planning something awesome for all the travelers out there. Still in the works but I’m sure it will be great! For now, check out Dijo’s Vimeo account for videos of their adventures (http://vimeo.com/dijosongco). Don’t miss the video of our Iloilo trip! 🙂
Anyway, back to our trip. I honestly don’t know where to begin…there’s a lot I want to type down. I had so much fun going around and being sucked into the festivities of the locals. At night, the streets were lined with stalls that displayed a wide selection of food, from hotdogs, to chicken, to fish. Tables were set up in front so anyone could sit down, enjoy a meal or a drinking session with friends, while listening to a live band performing on a stage nearby. The excitement was palpable, not to mention infectious. Monica and I couldn’t help but join in and dance like crazy in the middle of the street. Funnily enough, no one really seemed to mind.
During the day, we did a lot of walking. Sometimes we rode pedicabs and admired the old buildings and churches nearby. Most of the time, though, we were busy searching for good places to eat in. And our efforts didn’t go unrewarded. We tasted the famous Lapaz Batchoy at Deco’s, devoured dishes of deliciously fresh seafood at Breakthrough (Oh, the scallops!), and bit into the meaty goodness of Roberto’s King Siopao (Unfortunately, the Queen Siopao was unavailable. The King Siopao contained ham instead of bacon, but it was still really yummy. Best Siopao I’ve tasted so far!).
One of my favorite parts of the trip was when we took a boat ride to the nearby island of Guimaras. We rented a tricycle for the day and told the driver to take us to the island’s best spots. I sat at the back of the trike, facing the opposite direction, and watched the road stretch out at a dizzying pace. We whizzed by sprawling fields and overarching trees. Healthy green foliage grew in abundance, making it an idyllic setting. Here, you can get all the fresh air you need. It was an hour of travel, but I really didn’t mind. He took us to a quiet little monastery hidden by tall, thin trees, to the top of an old rusty lighthouse, and finally to a nice beach where we rented a boat for some island hopping.
On Saturday, we watched the Kasadyahan, a cultural dance parade and contest for municipalities and local government units and schools, in the Freedom Grandstand. And on Sunday, the Ati-Ati street dance competition, where different tribes smeared black paint on their skin and wore bright, colorful costumes. A family friend who was in Iloilo found out a day before our flight that we were coming to the Dinagyang festival, so she and her husband arranged for free passes for both days. During the Sinulog, I wasn’t able to see any of the performances so you could imagine my excitement when I heard her say “Free Passes.” We were very lucky. It felt great to be in that grandstand. I had a goofy smile on my face as I surveyed the cheering crowd and the wide, open space where each group performed an electrifying 7-minute dance number. It was amazing!
I was sad to say goodbye so soon. Just like my trip to Cebu, my flight back to Manila was scheduled on the same day as the festival’s culminating event. I had good reason, though: it was my father’s birthday (during the Cebu trip, I had to go home because it was my mother’s birthday). I’m just glad I got to experience the street dance competitions! My friends, who stayed there for another two days, told me about all the other places they went to after the festival. I missed out on some good stuff, like the churches, Ted’s version of the Lapaz Batchoy, Tatoy’s chicken and seafood, Roberto’s Queen Siopao…
…well, that just means I’ll have a lot to look forward to when I go back this April. 🙂