Visit Iloilo: Experience the City of Love’s culture, heritage, hospitality, cuisine, and more!

Visit Iloilo: Experience the City of Love’s culture, heritage, hospitality, cuisine, and more!
Photo from Richmonde Hotel Iloilo

One can never truly appreciate the richness of a place's cultural heritage without seeing and experiencing it firsthand. This idea perfectly describes my time in Iloilo City. 

Several media representatives from the national media with Jerry Treñas, Iloilo City Mayor.
Several media representatives from the national media with Jerry Treñas, Iloilo City Mayor.(Photo from Jerry Treñas Official)

The Iloilo Festivals Foundation Inc. (IFFI), along with its partner tourism stakeholders, brought together selected national media representatives for the City Government’s Visit Iloilo campaign.

“Iloilo has long been recognized for its culture, heritage, and hospitality. We want to continue sharing all these things, and our Visit Iloilo campaign is an invitation for everyone to experience Iloilo’s rich history and premier attractions first-hand – especially our museums. I believe we may have the most number of museums in a single city, and that’s something to be truly proud of,” IFFI President Allan Tan expressed.

Kansi
Kansi(Photo by Claire Agcambot)
Kadyos, Baboy, Langka (KBL)
Kadyos, Baboy, Langka (KBL)(Photo by Claire Agcambot)
Pancit Molo
Pancit Molo(Photo by Claire Agcambot)

IFFI's initiative allowed us to explore and tour around the City of Love, visit popular tourist spots and savor authentic Ilonggo cuisine like Kansi, a beef stew made with sour broth; Kadyos, Baboy, and Langka (KBL), a stew made with pigeon peas, pork, and jackfruit; and Pancit Molo, a type of wonton soup.

Iloilo’s spaces for arts and culture

Known as one of the oldest cities in the Philippines, Iloilo is home to a number of well-preserved heritage houses, old churches, and museums. In fact, Iloilo City is recognized as the museum capital of the Philippines, boasting 20 museums. 

These museums aren't your typical displays as they span across different themes, from maritime history and handicrafts to liquor and contemporary art. Many of the city's old heritage houses have been thoughtfully converted into museums, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the city's rich history. Wandering through these structures felt like stepping back in time.

Museum of Philippine Economic History of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).
Museum of Philippine Economic History of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).(Photo from iloiloartlife.com)
National Museum of Western Visayas of the National Museum of the Philippines.
National Museum of Western Visayas of the National Museum of the Philippines.(Photo from iloiloartlife.com)

Among the city's lineup of must-visit museums are the Museum of Philippine Economic History, and the National Museum of the Philippines-Iloilo, which showcase a rich tapestry of Ilonggo's culture and heritage exhibits spanning economics, geology, textiles, and photography.

Adoro Gallery-Museum
Adoro Gallery-Museum(Photo by Claire Agcambot)

Travelers who are passionate about arts and culture would really enjoy visiting Iloilo. For art lovers, the Adoro Gallery-Museum is a place you wouldn't want to miss. Located in Iloilo Prime Estates, Adoro (to adore in Spanish) showcases contemporary arts by talented local artists and is owned by the Valencia Family. 

University of the Philippines Visayas
University of the Philippines Visayas(Photo by Claire Agcambot)

Also, travelers can visit the University of the Philippines Visayas Museum of Art and Cultural Heritage for a wide array of exhibits as it features seven galleries including the Panapton Textile Gallery, Taliambong UPV Art Gallery, Ed Defensor Gallery, Nelfa A. Querubin Gallery, Duna Intangible Cultural Heritage Gallery, Lantip: Changing Exhibition Gallery 1, and Hanas: Changing Exhibition Gallery 2. 

Museum of the Philippine Maritime History
Museum of the Philippine Maritime History(Photo by Claire Agcambot)
Museum of the Philippine Maritime History
Museum of the Philippine Maritime History(Photo by Claire Agcambot)
John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University - Maritime Museum
John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University - Maritime Museum(Photo by Claire Agcambot)
John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University - Maritime Museum
John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University - Maritime Museum(Photo by Claire Agcambot)

Iloilo's museums cater to all interests. For maritime enthusiasts, the Museum of the Philippine Maritime History, which is the first maritime museum of the national government, and the John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University let you have glimpses into the maritime heritage of Iloilo and the Philippines. They also highlight the region's seafaring traditions and maritime artifacts. 

A local weaver in Arevalo Handwoven Products, weaving Hablon fabric.
A local weaver in Arevalo Handwoven Products, weaving Hablon fabric. (Photo by Claire Agcambot)

Iloilo is also known for its Hablon textile. Travelers can try weaving Hablon fabric and learn from local weavers at Arevalo Handwoven Products, where the official UP Sablay is produced. 

Where past is always present

Iloilo's well-preserved heritage houses and mansions offer a window into the city's past and present. 

These historic structures, once family homes of the city's prominent families, have been transformed into museums, cafes, and event spaces. 

Nelly Garden
Nelly Garden(Photo from philippinesgraphic.com.ph)

First on the list is the Lopez Heritage House, also known as Nelly Garden. It is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece built in 1928. Today, it houses an American period collection, and its priceless furniture and wood floors serve as a backdrop for tours, weddings, and special events.

Lizares Mansion
Lizares Mansion (Photo by Claire Agcambot)

Unlike other Spanish-style houses in Iloilo, the Lizares Mansion stands out with its French architectural influences. During World War II, the mansion was taken over by the Japanese occupation and became a prison. Today, it is part of Angelicum School and is declared an Important Cultural Property by the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP).

Dining options at heritage houses

For travelers who are seeking a taste of tradition, several ancestral houses have been converted into restaurants. 

Glory's Cafe Arevalo
Glory's Cafe Arevalo
Glory's Cafe Arevalo
Glory's Cafe Arevalo(Photo by Claire Agcambot)

Take a trip back to 1948 with a cup of heritage black coffee brewed using the family recipe at Glory's Cafe Arevalo.

Tinukib Cafe
Tinukib Cafe(Photo by Claire Agcambot)
Tinukib Cafe
Tinukib Cafe(Photo by Claire Agcambot)

Casa Gamboa takes a different approach, honoring revolutionary heroine "Tia Patron" through a museum and cafe. At Tinukib Cafe, you can dine and shop for souvenirs handmade by local artisans.

Camina Balay nga Bato
Camina Balay nga Bato(Photo by Claire Agcambot)
Chicken Binakol at Camina Balay nga Bato.
Chicken Binakol at Camina Balay nga Bato.(Photo by Claire Agcambot)

For those who want a sip of thick tablea chocolate drink, Camina Balay nga Bato hits the spot. They also serve authentic Pancit Molo soup, grilled pork, my personal favorite, Chicken Binakol, and many others.

Café Agatona
Café Agatona(Photo by Claire Agcambot)
Balay Remedios
Balay Remedios(Photo from shemaegomez.com)

If you want to enjoy a scenic view of Jaro Plaza while dining, Café Agatona is a place for you. You can also indulge in a fusion of heirloom recipes and modern Ilonggo cuisine at Balai Remedios. 

Iloilo Esplanade
Iloilo Esplanade(Photo from una.city)

Iloilo isn't just steeped in history and food, it also champions sustainable tourism. In Iloilo, they have what they call "Esplanade" where locals and travelers can enjoy scenic walks along clean water and even sunset cruises for a closer look. 

“Visit Iloilo is more than just a showcase of our heritage, food, and festivals. It is our way of building our legacy and giving back to the Ilonggos, whose collective efforts have molded Iloilo into what it is and what it’s yet to become. We are very excited to share who we are not only to the whole country, but to the rest of the world,” Tan shared. 

Among the multi-sectoral groups supporting the Visit Iloilo campaign include the Department of Tourism-Western Visayas, the Tourism Promotions Board, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Iloilo, and the Iloilo Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions (Mice) Alliance, and Megaworld. 

This year's Visit Iloilo campaign has partnered with Richmonde Hotel Iloilo and Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo as its official hotel accommodation providers. The campaign's official airline partner is Cebu Pacific, and the official land transportation partner is Southwest Tours.

For more details about the Visit Iloilo campaign, visit https://www.facebook.com/visitiloiloph.

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