This was the last feature I wrote before I united with the one that my soul loves last December. It is only fitting that I give tribute to the person whom I chose to grow old with for the rest of my life. I was like a funny twist of destiny that as I write about the places in the Philippines … I would end up with somebody whose roots can be traced in the heart of this country … Iloilo. It is located at the centre of the Philippine archipelago and the gateway to the flourishing region of Western Visayas. And … it hit me right where my soul is.

Iloilo City is set in a graceful repose between Iloilo and Batiano rivers forming the angle of the nose. Hence, its old name is “Ilong-ilong” which means nose like.

One can travel in style going here … by air there are flights daily from Manila which will only take 55 minutes. We met in techno-style … via the short message service. It is a real life cyber-love story which has been going on for the past three blissful years.

Despite being born and bred in Makati, the deep-rooted traditions of his provincial ancestry can be overtly seen. These dependable values are as old as the majestic century-old churches and unspoiled countryside. There is also a side of him that is as sunny and as jovial as the Dinagyang Festival (4th Weekend of January). It was a blending of these traits that enhanced his very pleasant personality which could win him the title “Mr. Congeniality”.

A collector of antique electric fans and appliances, his room has an “old world ambiance” same as Iloilo which is proud of its turn-of-the-century edifices and grand, old houses. Jaro district is like a city in the late 1700s and 1800s. One can find the relics of the country’s first “Millionaire’s Row” – manors of sugar barons ringing the plaza, standing like defensive sentinels beside the Jaro Cathedral, the Archbishop’s Palace and the esteemed St. Vincent Ferrer Seminary. Among the famous mansions there are those owned by the family of Ledesma, Lizares (now known as Angelicum), Montinola and Lopez. Who knows what historical secrets and other ghost stories the walls of these houses keep?

On to a happier note … truly, the way through one’s heart is through the stomach. I was treated to a delight of the palate with his gourmet dishes. Just like Iloilo, it is one of those places that provides exotic delicacies like La Paz Batchoy (famous noodle dish made very tasty by pork broth, fried garlic, onion and pig innards), Pancit Molo (flat noodle soup with spiced pork-chicken meat balls wrapped in thin dough boiled chicken-pork broth) Biscocho Haus’ butterscotch, cream horn and Biscocho, Mama’s Kitchen cashew cookies, pinasugbo (sweetened banana slices in very sticky sugar concoction) and barquillos. Sea foods like oysters, crab and other shellfish abound. Because it is relatively near Guimaras, mangoes of export quality can be found.

Famous restaurants are Conings (oyster, sinugba, and tinola), Breakthrough (aligue rice, inasal, and diwal), Freddie’s (Italian), Ness and Tats (native sea foods), Sibingan, Ted’s, Tatoy’s (inasal and sea foods) and Marina.

In a nutshell, Iloilo is a cultural journey through time. It is the site of stately mansions and unusual treats. Savour the hospitality of its numerous accommodation facilities and restaurants. The Ilonggos will make sure your stay is pleasant, memorable and safe. They make sure you are well-fed, too. Take home antiques, handicrafts and art pieces. The people moves with the gentle sway of the old kundimans are survivors amidst galloping technologies and continue to live a lifestyle of grace and elegance.

Love is a journey. As we manoeuvre along this path called life, occasionally one will find herself a little lost. And when that happens, you should have to let go of the coulda, shoulda, woulda, buckle up and keep going. So many roads. So many alternative routes. So many mistakes. As one speed along this continual road to the goal called “who we hope to be”, we can’t help but complain, “Are we there yet?” Now I found my home. Maybe men and women aren’t from different planet as new age culture would have us believe. Maybe we live a lot closer to each other. In my case, in the same zips code. I was happy to put my single self on a shelf at this point in my life … to be a part of the couple. It was a prayer heard … it took a very long while. But it was well worth it.

“There are some people who meet that somebody that they can never stop loving, no matter how hard they try. I wouldn’t expect you to understand that, or even believe it, but trust me; there are some loves that don’t go away. And maybe that makes them crazy, but we should all be lucky enough to end up with somebody who has a little of that insanity. Someone who never lets go. Someone who cherishes you forever.”
– Ally Macbeal

Date Written: March 2004


One response to “ILOILO … SUGAR … AND MORE

  1. Pingback: BEST THING I EVER ATE … A WORK IN PROGRESS | tripsandthecity

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