Friday, August 7, 2015

Take a Bite and Share the Sweetness: Guimaras

            Guimaras is an island province located in the Panay Gulf in Western Visayas region; between the islands of Panay and Negros. It is formerly known as Himal-us and was once a sub-province of Iloilo until it was made an independent province in 1992.

The island is known for producing delectable mangoes, making it as the country’s mango capital. In fact, the mangoes from Guimaras are once listed as the sweetest fruit in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records in 1995; making a great opportunity to compete in world market in both fresh or processed form. In addition, it is the only mango variety in the country certified pest-free by the United States of America – Department of Agriculture.

However, most of the tourist usually considers this island province as a day-tour destination forming the usual side trip from Iloilo City. To tell you, Guimaras has a lot more to offer aside from their extra sweet mangoes. From their beautiful beaches, stunning waterfalls, and their historical structures are one of those few interesting places to visit.

Sites to Explore/Dine:

Manggahan Festival

            This island province is not only known for its fresh and bountiful harvest of extra sweet mangoes but also for the artistry of its people. Every year they celebrate their colorful way of life through their Manggahan Festival.

Manggahan Festival is celebrated to commemorate their charter anniversary as a full-pledged province and to promote island province’s distinction. Usually, it’s a weeklong celebration showcasing the diverse culture of every municipality in Guimaras. The highlights of the festival usually includes: mango eat-all-you-can and exhibit, Mutya ng Guimaras beauty pageant, coronation night and fireworks display.

San Lorenzo Windmills

            Unlike those windmills in Bangui, Ilocos Norte which stood along the seashore, these of Guimaras’ stood along farms and hills. These windmills are one of the newest top attractions in Guimaras. This one is a must see destination when in Guimaras. It is ideal for sightseeing and picture taking. Simply breathtaking!

As of now, there are 27 windmills have been erected by Trans-Asia Renewable Energy Corporation in the town of San Lorenzo. Each windmill is capable of generating 2 megawatts electricity giving a total of 54 megawatts, more than enough to cater the 13 megawatt power supply needed for the whole province. The remaining energy is used to provide energy to its neighboring provinces.

Hence, the project is said to be a welcome boost to the tourism industry especially on the Western side of the island. However, the said project is not only to enhance tourism but also to provide efficient and more sustainable energy to the province.

Old Guisi Lighthouse

            The old Guisi Lighthouse is one of the remarkable historical sites that can be found in the Province of Guimaras. It is known as Faro de Punta Luzaran and widely acknowledged as the 2nd oldest lighthouse in the Philippines, next to Punta Linao, the old lighthouse in Aparri, Cagayan. Guisi lighthouse is located in the southwestern coast of Guimaras, in Brgy. Dolores, Nueva Valencia.

            The lighthouse can be reached by following a 15-minute light trail (uphill trek) and at the top of the hill are the ruins of the Spanish-colonial outpost, the rotting remains of the old lighthouse and the newer and modern lighthouse. *Note: Registration is required before entering the premises of the lighthouse. (Entrance Fee: P 10.00)

Old Guisi Lighthouse was built by the Spanish government in 18th century (1894-1896) which was used to serve as a navigational aid to the fishermen and sailors cruising this strait. Despite of its present condition of the old lighthouse – rusty and its pieces about to fall apart, it is still beautiful. On the other hand, the new lighthouse located close to the old one, it may be simple and empty for now yet it continues the task of the old lighthouse did for years.

Trappist Monastery

            Trappist Monastery is a place for solitude. It is run by male monks belong to the Cistercian Order of Strict Observance and follow St. Benedict’s rule. These monks are best known for their discipline in their monastic life, they are really devoted in their vows.

            The order takes the name “Trappist” from La Trappe Abbey or La Grande Trappe in Normandy, France where it began as a reform movement. Inside the monastery, there’s a chapel providing solace and full solemnity; one can pray or offer a prayer and lit a candle.

            Aside from the chapel there’s a picnic area wherein visitors can take their snacks or lunch while enjoying the natural surroundings full of greens and woods in which makes the place cooler. There’s also a souvenir shop located inside the monastery. It features products of the province (must-try mango butterscotch, mango puree and cashew nuts) as well as religious items.

Cabaling Beach Resort

            A beach resort surrounded by tropical gardens and blessed with many corals, alongside, mountains facing West overlooking Panay Island. Cabaling Beach Resort is situated in Sitio Cabaling, Brgy. Espinosa, Jordan, Guimaras. This beach resort offers a relaxing stay and comfortable ambiance.

            The beach resort has a hotel and bungalow cottages wherein visitors can stay overnight. The bungalow cottages are cradled onsite the towering coral stones where guests can get best view of the sea, while their hotel is located 50 meters away from the shore. Both accommodations have:
·         Air Condition
·         Cable TV
·         Bathroom
·         Terrace

Cabaling Beach Resort also has a kidney-shaped infinity pool. But what makes it unique from others is the water being used in the pool. The beach resort uses salt water or the water from the beach. Other amenities of the resort includes: karaoke bar, billiard hall, pavilion and restaurant. *Note: Entrance Fee: P 100.00 and if visitors will decide to swim on their infinity pool, visitors need to pay P 50.00 as an additional charge.

            As for my experience, I don’t highly recommend this place to visit. Although the place is really beautiful but the food being served is highly overpriced plus their staffs are not very accommodating to their guests as well as the place is quite secluded.

The Pit Stop
            No fancy restaurants or fast food chains available in the island but there’s this restaurant which serves to be the haven for locals and even tourists looking for food to feed their hungry stomach. The place is known for serving pizza, pasta and burger.

However, they’re not only serving it on a usual way. They utilize their major produce (mangoes) which serves to be the main ingredient of the dish. Your trip in this island province would not be complete if you’re not able to eat the first and famous mango pizza and pasta.

The pizza crust was topped with thinly sliced mangoes and then covered with cheese and drizzled with some crushed cashew nuts and finished with slices of green bell pepper. The pizza is good because the sweet and sour taste blends well. Do not also forget to try putting mango ketchup on your mango pizza.

Another must-try dish on this restaurant is their mango spaghetti. The spaghetti is great that it tastes like a salad because they have used mangoes instead of tomatoes as their main ingredient for the sauce.

How to Get There:

            There are no direct flights going to Guimaras. The nearest airport is the Iloilo International Airport. From the airport, you can take a van going to the city proper and take a jeepney going to the Ortiz Wharf or one can opt to ride a taxi cab going directly to the Ortiz Wharf.

            From the Ortiz Wharf, take a 15 minute boat ride going to the Jordan Wharf which is the main port of entry and exit in Guimaras. The pump boat costs P 14.00 during daytime and P 20.00 during night time.

Note: For those who want to bring their own car, RoRo is available only at the Lapuz Wharf in Iloilo City.

            For those from Negros Island, you can access Guimaras by taking a 45 minute boat ride from Pulupandan Wharf which is 30-45 minutes drive from Bacolod City.

Thank you for reading!

P.S.: Special thanks to Erpelua and Garvilles Family of Sibunag, Guimaras for making our trip possible and for making our stay more fun and enjoyable.

For more photos, kindly visit: ...THE ISLAND THAT FITS YOUR TASTE: GUIMARAS...

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