I SPENT MANY LONG SUMMERS in Guimaras Island. I remember its reddish-brown color, that one fragrant kalacuchi tree near my grandmother’s house and the constant chatter of my mom’s family. Lawi, Guimaras was where my mother was born and raised.
Today it still remains to be the place where she is at her happiest. I am proud to credit my Ilonggo roots to be the only reason I understand the Cebuano dialect, where I reside now. It’s been almost a decade since I last went to Guimaras. Now that I’m married, my relatives have been asking me to bring my husband for a visit.
On May 17-22, 2016 – just in time for the Manggahan Festival – we took a Cebu Pacific flight from Cebu to Iloilo. Our plane fare, which I got through Piso Fare promo 4 months prior, was a bargain price at Php1,200 roundtrip per person.
From Iloilo airport, we took a taxi to Ortiz port for Php600. Then we took a short 15-minute boat ride to Jordan port in Guimaras. We were greeted by my lovely Tita Glenda and her husband Tito Warren. The next few days were a flurry of family visits, and lots of mango-eating.
If it’s your first time to visit Guimaras Island or you are revisiting to go to the places you missed, here are my top 3 recommendations:
Visit During The Manggahan Festival
Guimaras Island, also known as “Sweet Mango Island” is famous for some of the sweetest mangoes in the world. This festival celebrates the season for bountiful harvest with parades and a plaza full of vendors and activities like the Mutya ng Guimaras and ABS-CBN caravan. Mangoes at this time are so cheap – my mom got 50 kilos for only Php 2,500.
Eat at Pittstop and Grillers
Where else can you get Bulalo with mango, Mango pasta, Bangus Sisig with Mango, and Mango Pizza all in one restaurant? I was told by my 16-year old niece, that Pittstop is the most known restaurant in town. I loved the sweetness and cheesiness of Pittstop’s Mango Pizza.
Walking distance from Pittstop is its sister restaurant called Grillers. The menu slightly differs as Grillers has Baby Back Ribs and grilled chicken. We reserved a table for 17 people as a treat to my Gimeno family and all left home with fully, happy bellies. The must-try for me is the chicken and molo soup.
Go See The San Lorenzo Windmills
Brave the rough roads and you’ll be happy you did. The 27 erect windmills on the western side of Guimaras provides energy to Iloilo and Negros Occidental. It brought me back memories of windmills in Palm Springs, California, but this time, I got up close. We arrived there at noon sharp when the sun was at its hottest. I felt draining heat all over but it was totally worth it to see such unique Philippine landscape.
There’s more to see in Guimaras Island that 4 days cannot fit all. I made this short video highlighting my memories there. It felt good to go back to my roots. I feel ever so thankful and recharged to spend time with my Mom and my Gimeno family. This is where I show it all.