The more you appreciate a place, the lovelier it becomes.
The province of Guimaras is considered as the smallest among all the provinces within Region VI (Western Visayas) having a total of 604.5 sq. km of land area or just 3 percent of the total cumulative land area of the whole region (National Statistical Coordination Board). In the past, the province is under the jurisdiction of the province of Iloilo until it was officially converted into a full-pledged and recognized province of the country on May 22, 1992 under the term of Governor Catalino G. Nava (Provincial Government of Guimaras) and through the proclamation of Republic Act 7160 (Department of Tourism). As compared with the other provinces within the region, the province of Guimaras is also considered as the youngest.
Both in the local and international trade, the province is known as the “Mango Country” or simply the “Mango Capital of the Philippines” because of its production of high quality mangoes. The mangoes produced in the 8,000 hectares of orchard in the province are certified as “pest-free” by the United States Department of Agriculture (National Statistical Coordination Board). However, the province does not take pride on its golden mangoes alone but also in its breathtaking and amazing natural wonders. In less than 3 days, my friends and I tried to explore the province.
The following activities and places were those which we were able to try and visit during our entire stay in the province:
- Find the inner peace in Our Lady of the Philippines (OLP) Trappist Monastery or Abbey of the Philippines in San Miguel, Jordan
This monastery is managed by the Cistercian Order and founded by the United States Region in 1972 (Our Lady of the Philippines Trappist Abbey). The whole vicinity of the monastery is peaceful, despite the fact that it is just along the national road, hence, the visitors can reflect and meditate in this area. Also, for tourists looking for different types “pasalubongs” or souvenirs and sweet treats, you can check the wide selection of souvenir and food items available in the monastery’s gift shop.
- Finish the stations of the cross in Bala-an Bukid in Hoskyn, Jordan.
The name “Bala-an Bukid” is a Hiligaynon name which is translated in English as “Holy Mountain”. This religious area is a famous pilgrimage site for a lot of Catholic devotees, especially during the Holy Week when the ritual called “Ang Pagtaltal sa Bala-an Bukid” (Crucifixion in the Holy Mountain) is held (Provincial Government of Guimaras). On the peak of the mountain is a white chapel and a giant cross which can be seen by people from the towns near Jordan and as well as from the province of Iloilo. Upon arrival at its peak, visitors are gifted with the picturesque view of the mountainous portions of Jordan and the coastal areas of Iloilo.
- Fit yourself within the Smallest Plaza in Poblacion, Jordan
This plaza along the national road of the municipality of Jordan is considered as the smallest plaza in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records. Since it is just along the road, you can stop by and have some pictures taken inside the plaza and together with the statue of the younger version of the Philippine National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.
- Check the handicraft weaving by the artistic women of Sapal, San Lorenzo
If you want to take home some native souvenirs such as mats, bags, laptop sleeve, and slippers, you can go to Brgy. Sapal in San Lorenzo. The products are made of Barios or wild pandan. The production and the whole marketing process are managed by the women’s organization called Sapal Weavers’ Association Inc., and with the support of their Barangay Local Government Unit (BLGU).
- Be amazed with the gigantic San Lorenzo Windmills
In the Philippines, the most famous, and for some, the only known wind farm is the Bangui Wind Mills located in the province of Ilocos Norte in Luzon. However, there are other wind farms scattered in the country, and one of which is located in the province of Guimaras, specifically in the municipality of San Lorenzo. This wind farm harness energy which is consumed by the whole municipality. Since it was my first time to see a wind farm up close and personal, I was shocked by how big it really is. It was actually frightening, yet amazing at the same time.
- Hop into different Island Beaches in Nueva Valencia
Another exciting and enjoyable activity in Nueva Valencia is the island hopping offered by different resorts in Nueva Valencia. Some of the islands you can visit include Baras Island, Ava Maria Islet, and Lamuyan Island. Each island has its own beauty so you definitley have to visit them all, especially if you have enough time.
- Explore different caves
For those who want to try cave explorations, you can also do this while doing the island hopping activity in Nueva Valencia. Some of the caves in the islands include Baras and Ava Maria Caves. Both these caves are just short and can be visited by riding a motorized banca.
- Have an ecological tour around the John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University (JBLFMU) Eco-Park
JBLFMU is an institution open for those who are aiming to gain or hone skills on Maritime Sciences. The training center in Nueva Valencia is also open to tourists or visitors who just want to appreciate nature. A lot of activities are available within the vicinity of JBLFMU including the mangrove trail, and butterfly sanctuary tour.
- Chase the sun while revisiting the past in Guisi Lighthouse and Ruins in Dolores, Nueva Valencia
This very old lighthouse was built from 1894 to 1896 by the Spanish Government, with a primary objective of lighting the Philippine Sea to guide the Spanish Ships traveling to Manila (Provincial Government of Guimaras). The ruins has an eerie ambiance especially during the night, especially with the stories you can hear from the locals regarding some alleged ghost sightings. But that aside, visiting the ruins will take the visitors into the past because of its history. Although the lighthouse is ancient already and looks like it will fall down soon, according to the caretaker, visitors can still go up the lighthouse given that they will take enough precautionary measures. Presently, a new lighthouse was built proximal to the old lighthouse.
- Have a taste of Guimaras’ special treats
The tour in the province of Guimaras will never be complete without tasting its famous golden mangoes. Aside from the fresh mangoes which are sold in different areas in the province, tourists can also try different mango products such as jam, pickles, biscuits, breads, among others. We also tried tasting various delicacies made or with a tinge of mango including Mango Adobo, Mango Spaghetti, and the famous Mango Pizza of Pit Stop. Fresh seafoods and cashew nuts are also available and produced in the province.
Although we think 3 days are not enough, and will never be enough to really explore and appreciate the wonderful province of Guimaras, my friends and I needed to go back to our homes to rest and go back to our regular works. It was fun and we will definitely go back to this humble paradise.
When we left, we took nothing but pictures, we left nothing but memories.
For more photos on our Guimaras adventure, pls go to the Life Gallery.
- The earliest trip going to and from Guimaras Island from Ortiz Wharf in Iloilo City is around 5:30am and the last trip is around 7pm. According to the people in the wharf, if you are planning to travel beyond 7pm, it won’t really be a problem since there are a lot of motorized bancas available in the wharf, however, you have to charter it for a cost of Php 500 (one way trip).
- If you are working under a very tight budget and wants to really explore the island, plan your trip really well because the cost of transportation in the island is really high since the most common and readily available mode of transportation in the province is tricycle.
- When choosing a place to stay, it is always best to go to resorts/hotels/inns near the beach. Based on our experience, this is better and much price worthy than those which are located within townpropers.
|Route||Mode of Transportation||Estimated Travel Time|
|Airport (Iloilo) to Sm City Iloilo||Van||20 minutes|
|Sm City Iloilo to Ortiz Wharf||Taxi||15 minutes|
|Ortiz Wharf to Jordan Wharf||Pumpboat||10 minutes|
*In Jordan Wharf, there is a Tourism Office of the Province of Guimaras. You can get a brochure with list of different tourist destinations with estimated travel time.
|Airport to Sm City Iloilo||50|
|Sm City Iloilo to Ortiz Wharf||100|
|or Airport to Ortiz Wharf||500|
|Ferry (Ortiz Wharf to Jordan Wharf) Round-trip)||30|
|Tricycle (Jordan Wharf to Nueva Valencia, Round trip)||600|
|Tricycle (Island Tour-San Lorenzo, Jordan, Nueva Valencia)||1500|
|Island Hopping Boat Ride (First hour)||550|
|(for every succeeding hours)||150|
|Souvenirs and Pasalubong treats||1000|
|JBLFMU Eco Park||100|