Baroque Churches of the Philippines: Miag-ao Church

A fortress church in southern Iloilo is part of the 4 Baroque Spanish-era churches of the Philippines inscribed by UNESCO in 1993 as a World Heritage Site. In Miag-ao, set on the highest point of the town to guard and watch out from the Tacas or the Moro invaders, the beautiful church dedicated to Sto. Tomas de Villanueva was built.

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It is said that this church is of Baroque-Romanesque style. It is Baroque because elements like colonnades and domes, the chiaroscuro as well as the bold play of volume and void is present in this church. This style was common in Europe during the 1600s. Romanesque on the other hand is characterized by bold semi-circular arches, typical during medieval times.

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A Walk to Lakawon Island

Imagine yourself lying down at the edge of an anchored boat with the sun above your head, drinking your complimentary drink as you set your eyes on the white sandy shores of Lakawon Island. The cool music being played sets a relaxing tone on board the Tawhai boat as you let the time pass you by.

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It is a pure easing moment. This is what to expect in Lakawon Island Resort and Spa – an exciting new travel destination north of Bacolod City. It is a lovely island with white sand beach, blue waters, a long boardwalk and a huge floating bar anchored just a few hundred meters from its shore.

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Islas de Gigantes: Cabugao Gamay (Antonia Island)

I will never forget this cluster of islands in the northeastern corner of Panay. It was by far, the most thrilling journey that I got myself into. To say that it was scary or ‘buhis-buhay’ is an understatement. Never mind that one of our companions in this trip to the Islas de Gigantes almost peed in her pants in sheer fright and excitement as we crossed the super rough seas on a rainy Friday afternoon.

Islas de Gigantes. Beautiful group of islands off the coast of Carles, Iloilo.

How to get there?

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G is for Guimaras

I could not count anymore the times that I’ve visited Iloilo City. But some of my friends were quite surprised that I haven’t visited Guimaras at all, not even once. This island province is very much visible from the city port. I knew of many weekend warriors that include a visit to Guimaras each time they’re in Iloilo and their stories somehow drew interest to me since it is just near and very much accessible.

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Guimaras is my 59th province to be visited and I would like to share my overnight experience on this island.

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A is for Antique: The Land where the Mountains Meet the Sea

The province bordered by Aklan, Capiz and Iloilo provinces and facing Sulu Sea, Antique, the seahorse shaped province in the island of Panay is a treasure trove of wonders and a chest full of interesting places biding its time to be uncovered and be visited for its natural beauty.

Antique is one of the few provinces in the Visayas that I have yet to visit. Several accounts have mentioned the province to be a host of a lot of options for adventure and eco-cultural tours. Comparing to its neighboring provinces like Aklan which is frequently visited because it’s a gateway to Boracay, and Iloilo which is rich in history and was once an economic center during the Spanish era, Antique was like sleeping through the course of time.

The origin of the province’s name did not come from the adjective itself. Before the Spaniards came, the place was called Hantik which refers to the black ants found in the island. When it was recorded, the colonizers pronounced it without the letter H, yet it was written as antique. The locals then began to say their province name as antique (än-ti-ké).

This year, I decided to step foot in the province dubbed as the land where the mountains meet the sea.

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Boracay’s Charm

To borrow Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s words, ‘The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choice-less as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.”

Why don’t you try to visit Boracay in January. Make it a part of your itinerary should you plan to witness Kalibo’s Ati-atihan Festival or Iloilo’s Dinagyang. Boracay, an island paradise boasts of its glorious white beach, numerous hotels, restaurants and water-activity options, has always been the pride of the Philippines.

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Museo Iloilo

Museo Iloilo

The museum houses the historical and cultural treasures of Iloilo. It is located near the provincial capitol complex along Bonifacio Drive in downtown Iloilo. It is said to be the repository of Panay’s significant religious and cultural artifacts as well as an exhibit hall for up and coming local artists.

Museo Iloilo

The museum building is in itself an interesting structure. Built in 1971, it was designed by Sergio Penasales, an Ilonggo architect. On one side of the building, bas reliefs of various churches in Iloilo were placed, among others, the Molo Church and the UNESCO World Heritage listed baroque church of Miag-ao. A couple of old canons were also placed just outside of the building.

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I is for Iloilo

Rich in colonial history and a deeply-rooted religious past, Iloilo is one of those provinces that takes pride of its identity molded by memories of its ancient people, of centuries of Spanish rule, the prosperity it enjoyed through barter and trade with the Chinese and the Latin Americans and the loyalty it gave to the Spain at the turn of the 20th century.

Iloilo's Esplanade
Iloilo’s Esplanade

The province was founded in 1566, making it one of the oldest province in the country. The origins of the people were said to be from Sumatra, in the state of Pannai.

Iloilo is located in the island of Panay, bounded by the province of Capiz in the north and the province of Antique in the west. South of Iloilo is the island province of Guimaras.

The province was once called ‘La Muy Leal y Noble Ciudad’ and ‘The Queen’s City of the South.’ It was an economically powerful state in the 1600s. Industries such as textile and sugar flourished for centuries. These had attracted huge number of Chinese immigrants. It was also an important naval base for the Spaniards. Latin Americans from Mexico were assigned to take hold of the military facilities in the province. By such, Iloilo’s progress pushed it to become the most important province second only to Manila.

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Hala Bira! Ati-atihan Festival

The month of January plays host to a handful of festivals in various places in the Philippines. One of these celebrations is the Ati-atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan.

Kalibo, the capital of Aklan Province in the island of Panay celebrates Ati-atihan every 3rd week of January. Often a one week continuous celebration around the plaza and in front of the Kalibo cathedral, Ati-atihan is one of the most popular festivals in the country. Kalibo derives its name from the phrase “sangka libo” (one thousand) probably because about a thousand Ati people attended the first Catholic mass in that area.

My first Ati-atihan experience was in 2009.

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