"Iloilo City, I shall return :)" Top 5 Page for this destination Iloilo City by shohman

Iloilo City Travel Guide: 283 reviews and 888 photos

Iloilo City

We are speeding through downtown, zig-zagging through traffic that seems utterly chaotic. Jeepneys are overflowing so much that one passenger is riding on the roof. Trikes are even more overloaded as up to 10 people hang off every square inch of the small motorbike. Stray dogs dart in front of racing cars and street merchants try to approach the cars to sell anything from fruit to pastry to balut. There are no traffic lights, no stop signs, no rules at all. But...it works. Despite all the activity, all the crowded roads, there is never an angry look, never a middle finger shown. In fact, amidst all the chaos there seems to be a courtesy not found anywhere else. Drivers lightly tap the horn, not to scare or intimidate, but just to let other drivers know they are there and passing. After awhile, I realize this isn't chaos at all. In fact, it's almost like a well choreographed dance. Everyone works together and everyone gets where they are going. No stress at all.
So how does a Celtic lad born and raised in Boston end up halfway around the world in Iloilo City? Long story, but in short, I met a beautiful woman in Florida, two years later we decided to get married in her home country and while there, why not spend some time in the city she was raised?

Iloilo a bustling, humble city that always seems to be moving yet always has time for a smile. People here are known for their friendliness and hospitality and I have to say, everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) I met here was so kind and so very interested in what I thought of their country. "So how do you find the Philippines?" they would constantly ask. While I would try to express my deep love for the people, the food, the culture, they would smile with pride and then lean into me and whisper "sorry it's so hot here" as if they had somehow let me down by causing the heatwave we were experiencing. This conversation was repeated over and over again every time I met someone new.

Like much of the Philippines, Iloilo City can be an extremely poor city. Shanty towns are all over the place some with no water or electricity. Begging is common, children as young as 5 roam the busy streets with their hands extended. Health care is atrocious for the poor. The average wage here is about $250 US per month and many don't even make that. But heres the thing: They don't know they are poor. These are not angry people who feel entitled to a better life. These are humble, giving people who always seem to have a smile on their face. In the US, our homeless have a better standard of living than the poor of Iloilo. If you haven't been to a third world country, it's hard to comprehend exactly what poverty is.
Even the well off families here put up with hardships. I visited at least four beautiful homes, some could probably be called mansions, and in all of them there were water issues where toilets wouldn't flush or sinks wouldn't run. There was a drought, that's just how it was.

Things here are different for sure, especially for an American. But in a world that can leave one feeling jaded, there is nothing like being reminded that kindness, goodness are still around. The people here are simply fantastic, the hospitality is so heartwarming, that you will not want to leave. As my mother in law said, "Despite all the hardships and poverty, we can still afford to smile"
Iloilo, I shall return.

Our lady of the candles

Iloilo, like most of the county, is extremely religious, with the vast majority being catholic.
At the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral there is a local legend that a miracle occurred here. As the story goes, a fisherman found the statue and donated it to the church. It was placed high on the ace of the church and would be 'crowned' during festivals. Somewhere along the line, the statues began to grow! So much so, that it no longer fit in the designated crevice and was instead moved into a larger glass box where it continues to grow to this day. People continue to light candles and swear to miracles here. One man we met said he was losing his eyesight rapidly as a youngster and came here to wash his eyes in a fountain every day for a week, and now he not only has sight, but 20/20 vision.
He even offered to do an exercise to give us 'inner strength' It's difficult to explain, but as I watched him perform this on my wife, I quickly discovered his 'trick'
"how was it? Did you feel anything?!" someone nearby whispered to me. When I pointed out that it was a trick and showed her how he did this, she frowned and looked at me with suspicion. I guess some people just want to believe.
Still, whether you are religious or not, the churches here are amazing pieces of spanish architecture as well as being a very important part of the local culture, so your should stop by to check them out.

The market

We find a parking spot and make our way to the central market. I soon notice a feeling I have never had before, the feeling of being tall. People here are small and I usually stand a minimum of 5 inches taller than most Ilongos, sometimes over a foot taller. I have to say I enjoy being tall here. The other thing I notice is people staring. Not many white people come to Iloilo and apparently when we do, we are a bit of an attraction. As we head through the market past the dried fish, the amazing produce (the fruit here is amazing, like nowhere else in the world) the chicken heads, I begin to take pictures. "hey, don't take picture of just fish, take a picture of me with the fish!" I turn to see a cute Filipino girl (with 'blue' eyes) and she quickly pulls her workmate next to her and poses. "Facebook, put this on facebook! Only, I don't know your name" She pouts.
"sorry" I tell her as I point to my wife.
No worries, she quickly brings me from stall to stall, introducing me to the owners of each stall and suggesting pictures I can take. I click away as I joke with her and the other merchants and I realize how much I am loving this city.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:my wife was raised here, the hospitality, the food!
  • Cons:the astonished look you get when you tell someone you aren't Catholic
  • Last visit to Iloilo City: May 2010
  • Intro Updated May 18, 2010
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Reviews (29)

Comments (4)

  • machomikemd's Profile Photo
    Apr 27, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    You have excellent tips here. Will need it for my visit to the city

  • buenababe's Profile Photo
    Jul 5, 2011 at 6:46 AM

    i was here yesterday!i go to iloilo almost every month & it used to be my home for 4 years. ;) so u were a celebrity when u were there? ;) true, ilonggos r simple people & lots r poor yet they offer the best of what they have once u visit their homes.

  • Hexepatty's Profile Photo
    May 19, 2010 at 5:31 AM

    I love your description of the city and it's people and their resilience. And I wish they could make it less hot! : )

  • GenXVoice's Profile Photo
    May 18, 2010 at 11:51 AM

    Love, love, love it!!! Great stuff! Great photos! (You totally smoke me on the trip follow up with photo postings and descriptions...I still have updates overdue from 2007!!...show off.)


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