Carles in Northern Iloilo is steadily getting a good stream of tourist nowadays. The municipality, once ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan is now a popular jump-off point for Isla de Gigantes island hopping exploration. If not staying on the islands, Carles is the best area to stay. Coming from the earliest flight from Manila to Iloilo and a 3-4 hours road travel to Carles, I finally made it to my home base for two nights, The New Beach Head Resort. It’s easy to downplay the resort for having only a 1-star rating in booking sites. It is also considered as the “2nd best resort” in the Carles. But it honestly didn’t feel 1-star at all! It felt more than 3-star in terms of comfort and neatness. Not to mention, a beach area where beautiful sunsets abound.
It took Typhoon Yolanda’s devastation to bring this beautiful archipelago in Northern Iloilo to light. Carles, Northern Iloilo was one of the hard hit areas. Rescue aids and volunteers went out of their way to find remote communities that needed assistance. Their perseverance paid off as they found these communities. At the same time, they also found the islands of Isla de Gigantes. An enchanting set of islands that was once solely enjoyed by the locals. Gradually, photos of the stunning white beach and captivating rock formations became viral online. Isla de Gigantes name came big. Every body wants to experience this piece of paradise and that includes me.
Driving out from one of the country’s fanciest airport, the Iloilo International Airport, the transformation of Iloilo City is already evident. Nine years since my last visit and I was just stunned on how urbanized the city has become. It felt like Metro Manila with easier traffic. The Spanish and American influence which took hold of the city for a time still lingers along with modern commercial establishments and high rise residential towers. Before, the city was a mere transit point for me to visit Guimaras, UNESCO listed Miag-ao church and nearby waterfalls. But my recent visit with Asus Philippines showed me a different Iloilo. Armed with an Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie Pro, we visited interesting spots in the city while lending our time to help out for Operation Smile.
I’m still rummaging through my archives for this year until my next upcoming trips. I realize I still haven’t posted some of my Iloilo materials from early this year. With the Dinagyang Festival coming early next year, I’m sure the region would be getting a lot of tourist traffic by that time. And most of them would go through one of the relatively new airports in the country – the Iloilo Airport.
When in Iloilo, and you are looking for a place to eat by the beach serving good ol’ Filipino comfort food, head down to Tatoy’s Manokan and Seafoods. Located at Villa Beach, West of Iloilo City, about 8 km from the city center, it is one of the old established restaurants that serve native food without the frills and won’t burn your pockets per meal.
With an afternoon to spare in Miagao town after shooting the Miagao Church, we decided to head farther at the town of Dalije to check out the Bugsukan Falls. With none of us really familiar with the place it was a fortunate accident that we bumped into Carlito a local of Miagao who helped us to find this not-so-hidden falls in Iloilo.
One of the must-see places when you visit Iloilo province in Panay Island is the Santo Tomas de Villanueva Church or most commonly known as the Miagao Church. This church is one of the four Baroque churches in the Philippines inscribe in UNESCO‘s list of World Heritage Sites. On our first day in Iloilo City, the coastal town of Miagao was our first top where we stayed with our kind host Tita Linda.