Guimaras · Philippines · Travel Tales

Travel Tales: The time I tasted the sweetest mangoes in the world

This is Part 2 of my Region VI/Boracay-Guimaras-Iloilo trip. The first part can be found here (Leg 1: Boracay). The third part can be found here (Leg 3: Iloilo City)

Leg 2: Province of Guimaras (2d2n)

At 10 AM on April 16, we took a boat back to the Caticlan Jetty Port, and instead of riding a bus, we opted to take a van from there to Iloilo City’s Ortiz Port. It was quite a smooth ride going there through the lovely landscapes of Aklan, Capiz, and Iloilo.

A view of Aklan from the van. Such lovely landscapes to drive through.

We had two short CR and merienda stops, and five hours later, we were in Iloilo City.

Our driver was knowledgeable about the places and their history, so the next 30 minutes became a quick city tour. (But I will get to Iloilo City in the third part of my post.)

From Ortiz Port, we bought tickets for a 15-minute pumpboat ride to Guimaras’ Jordan Wharf. Tickets were worth P16, if I remember correctly. We were the only tourists going to Guimaras — the rest seemed to be workers going home after a long day in the city, so while we were taking pictures of ourselves, the rest of the passengers were looking bored or tired.

Three things we/I got wrong:

  1. According to several people (Mom included) I spoke to before leaving for the trip, the Iloilo Strait (the channel between Iloilo and Guimaras) had very rough waters. Apparently it happens only during rainy season, or when you disturb the spirits of the island by taking something you shouldn’t. So don’t. In our case, the waters were quite calm.
  2. Someone had told us that the last boat ride to Guimaras was at 5PM; that was why we were in a hurry to get to Iloilo City. Our driver calmly told us that the last trip was actually at 8PM. True enough, we had a boat at about sunset.
  3. Because we were on a budget (that magic word), we decided to take a jeep from Jordan Wharf to our resort instead of a private multicab. Please, don’t do it. While the jeep had few people when we left, we were soon packed like sardines when we got to San Miguel, the town seat. There’s a bench in the middle of the jeepney — passengers sat on it. They also sat on the roof and hung on beside the driver. And then it rained.  All in all, it was a very uncomfortable but not wholly unpleasant 45-minute experience, because afterward we still managed to laugh at the fact that we saved only about P12 each by riding that jeep.

And yeah, we actually managed to get to Raymen Beach Resort in the town of Nueva Valencia. It was already evening, so we had batchoy and mango shake for dinner. It was excellent.

We took the air-conditioned rooms that night. (The next night, we took the fan rooms. They’re not as well-ventilated and clean — in one of our rooms, the men had to ask for a change of sheets — but they were passable.)

Raymen can arrange your island tour for you, which we did. We managed to convince the employees at Raymen to give us a discount on our land tour since we were pressed for time and wouldn’t be able to go to all the places they would have us go. So for P1,500, we had a multicab all to ourselves all morning.

Our first stop: Guisi Lighthouse

Our first stop was at the Guisi Lighthouse, the second-oldest lighthouse in the Philippines. The rotting metal structure, built in the Spanish era, could only take three people at a time (one guide, two others), so we spent quite a long time there taking pictures while we went up the lighthouse in twos. A more modern lighthouse stands beside it.

There were lovely little details all around, too. I like to think they were accidental.
A view from the top of the lighthouse.

By the way, it’s a great place for photoshoots:

My friend Mark, an expert in styling and modeling for those photoshoots.
Another friend, Sym, on top of the lighthouse
Some couple shots, too :>

We had breakfast (batchoy again, of course) at this stupendously-named store:

Aptly named as well, especially for my friend Andy over there. 🙂

Next stop was the Valle Verde Mountain Spring Resort…

…which was closed, so we just took pics from the balcony overlooking the hills, cove, and sea.

We went to the Trappist Monastery to buy some good old pasalubong. The chapel there was lovely. Also, we got to talk to the resident priest. He was very welcoming, and allowed us to write down our prayer intentions. According to him, the priests and nuns there worked at the farms and food preparation — and they had to be silent all throughout. He admitted that he was excited whenever a visitor came, because he got to entertain them. 🙂

The chapel at the Trappist Monastery

I bought almost everything mangoes! I highly recommend their mango piaya. Buy lots and lots and give them away. The tangy mango taste comes after a few chews.

Their mango jam is also excellent!

We went to San Miguel to have lunch and buy more pasalubong. And it so happened that we were in Guimaras during the Manggahan Festival! The strangest find: Mango Ketchup. (I bought it, and you don’t use it as you’d use tomato or banana ketchup. It’s better as dip.)

Mangoes everywhere!

That afternoon, we went on a three-hour island hopping trip. Unfortunately, I don’t remember all the names of the island (except for one Ave Maria Island, out of which we created a rather elaborate mythology involving virgins). However, we had three main stops. In one, we swam about 80 meters to a nearby island, with sand so fine it was of Boracay quality.

Some walking and wading, and then swimming to a nearby island…
…which was private property. Oh well, we thought. We needed to do a Survivor shot.
I was quite reluctant to leave, honestly.

The waters were between narrow channels between islands, and oh my gosh if it wasn’t the loveliest landscape I’d ever seen.

Really lovely and peaceful.

We also went swimming in a cave. I was more intimidated by the bats than by the water.

Picture taken by our boatman. Balancing on those rocks is actually pretty difficult, as they can either be jagged or slippery. It’s a “tiis ganda” moment, as Moore would say.

Finally, we went swimming in a place where there still were live corals.

…I’m all out of adjectives to describe this place, honestly.

I wish we’d stayed longer. Like, a month more or two. And then maybe I’d be able to finish my thesis. 🙂

Just a few things I love about Guimaras:

1. Relative to other provinces I’ve been to, it’s very clean, and its environment is well-preserved.

2. I quite like the signs pointing to the tourist spots. I think it’s a simple proof that shows how committed the province is to tourism.

It practically ensures that you’ll never forget!

3. The mangoes. So sweet it leaves an aftertaste right down your throat. It’s as if mangoes were the lifeblood of the people — the industry is thriving, and research facilities are dedicated to its farming and study. Really, the provincial government seems to be doing a pretty good job on Guimaras’ economy and tourism.

4. The people are very nice and friendly — the employees of Raymen, the jeep and multicab drivers, the proprietor of the batchoy store.

I’m sure there’s so much more to say about this place, but we had to leave the next day.

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