Guest Blogger: Honeylette Cainday talks about Iloilo

Nov 3, 2011 by


I am a proud Ilongga. I am raised in Iloilo City. Though I have left the city several times, be it a family decision to migrate in a different country, an internship or job opportunities, Iloilo City reels me back like a powerful magnet and I am just too happy to resist. Iloilo City is and will always be my home. It is in this city that I feel a sense of assurance, a feeling of contentment & belongingness that no other city or place can offer. It has all of the right mix of a small town & metropolitan that I want in a city combined. I have a very strong affinity and pride for my city and how timely that just last week I had a group chat on facebook with my three friends from high school, two of them are in Luzon and the other one is in the United States. I was telling them that we should have a get together here in my hometown. They jested me by telling me to convince them why they should come here. Since I have an obsessive-compulsion of making bullet points, I happily gave them 8 reasons. Here they are:


Dinagyang as I explained to them is a religious and cultural festival in Iloilo City held on the fourth Sunday of January. It is held to honor Santo Nino and at the same time to celebrate the arrival of Malay settlers in Panay and the selling of the island to them by the Atis.

The main event of the festival consists of a number of “tribus” dancing in celebration. There are a number of requirements: the performers must paint their skin brown and that only indigenous materials can be used for the costumes. All dances are performed to festive live drums.

I have no doubt they will be in total awe with how creative Ilonggos are from the intricate detail of costumes, the choreography, the warriors energy, the dancers cheerfulness & grace, the feverish music and the props that are cleverly made. Because even after several years of experiencing Dinagyang, I am still not immuned to the Dinagyang tribal fever.


The Sanson-Montinola Antillan House in Jaro, Iloilo City

A tour around Iloilo is a perfect opportunity to show my visitors how we preserve most of the old houses in the Spanish era. Casa Mariquit, Lopez White House/Nelly’s Garden, Sanson-Montinola Antillian House and Ledesma Mansion (just to name a few). During my elementary days, my classmates and I had the opportunity to visit the Lopez White House where we had our graduation pictoria. The lawn, the garden, and the interior of the house were just exquisite.


Museo Iloilo

Next place I would take them to is Museo Iloilo. The façade of the museum used to be just plain black & white but a couple of years ago, a splash of different colors were added to spice it up. There are several artifacts and large statues of Ati’s displayed inside and when I was younger, during our class trip, I seem to be fascinated at the potions Ati’s made; like the friendship potions & love potions. I wondered if they really work. Inside you can also find paintings and art installations of local artists.



Iloilo City is blessed to have a lot of beautiful churches. One is the rustic Miag-ao Church with its intricate design on the façade that you just can’t help but marvel at it. Another one is the Jaro Cathedral. There you can find the statue of Miraculous Lady of Candles outside the church, above the main door. The statue is made of limestone and it is said that she mysteriously grows every year which makes them remake her casing constantly. Also in front of the Jaro Catedral is the Belfry of Jaro which is a common tourist attraction.


Ahhh…. Showing off Iloilo City is never complete without letting them taste the culinary magic of Ilonggos. Ilonggos are numero-uno food-lovers. We enjoy food so much that you can see that the primary business ventures of Ilonggos are food. For those who didn’t know, the fast growing food chain & culprit for the “unlimited rice”, Mang Inasal was first introduced in Iloilo owned by an Ilonggo businessman that is popularly known as Edgar “Injap” Sia.

Ilonggos love seafoods— fish sinigang, grilled fish, shrimps & crabs, etc.  I would recommend Breakthrough in Villa, Joy-Joy in Dumangas, Ponsyon in Plazuela or Tatoy’s Manokan in Villa.


Are you salivating yet?

If there is a craving for some Chinese flavour, I recommend Kusina Tsina in Quezon street or Grand Palace Restaurant at the Grand Tower Hotel.

For burger and pizza, Afriques’ Pizza owned by the Cordovas is just the place to be. They have so many branches scattered all over the city. I have witnessed how this restaurant started and turned into one of the favourite restos of the Ilonggos. Their bestsellers are carbonara and Afrique’s Special Pizza. Another is Crave Burger. Their fat juicy burger patty is to-die for.

For siopao, Roberto’s top the list in the busy Calle Real or Jiedcels & Thea near the old airport in Mandurriao.

Of course, being a resident in Lapaz I should never fail to leave out a popular Ilonggo food, Lapaz Batchoy. They can choose between Deco’s or Ted’s Old Timer Batchoy. This soup is swimming with rich flavours, mami and wonderful fattening ingredients. I should seriously warn hypertensives to take this in moderation.

The famous Lapaz Batchoy

The best Ilonggo pasalubongs are in the form of biscocho of Biscoho Haus, butterscotch of Biscocho Haus or RJ Delicacies and cookies of Mama’s Kitchen. Mama’s Kitchen can be found in a house in Villa.


If partying is what they are looking for, I will be taking them to Smallville Complex. It comes alive especially at night; with beautiful people, loud music, overflowing drinks & good food. Bars, restaurants, café, hotels, dessert or yogurt stores and karaoke lounges are all there. You can just roam around and choose where you want to hang out.


One of my friends is addicted to golf and a little trip to Sta. Barbara would just be his perfect fix. It was once the place where the railway was made in 1907, linking Iloilo to other towns of Panay. While developing the said railway system, they also made a 2000 yard golf course with 9-hole lay-out. Back then, only British and American members are allowed to join the prestigious Sta. Barbara Golf Course & Country Club. Later, they allowed Filipinos to join namely Tomas Confessor, a hero of the Philippine Revolution and Governor of Iloilo during the American period and Fernando Lopez, who became Vice President of the Philippines. Now, the Sta. Barbara Golf & Country Club is a 40 hectare property with 18 hole lay-out and is recognized by the National Institute of History as the “oldest existing golf course of the Philippines”.


This new resort place owned by Dr. Louie Tirador is found in the outskirts of Iloilo City in the province of Janiuay. We had our Christmas party there last year and we had a blast. The place was perfectly landscaped with several cottages and a nice swimming pool in the middle. And just this year, they also installed a zipline just as Dr. Tirador promised last year. Fresh air, picturesque view and beautiful greens are what this place promise. Also along the way to Damires, you can stop by the Cabatuan Cemetery for a quick photo-op. It’s a different kind of cemetery that is reminiscent of the cemetery I saw in movie, “Letters to Juliet”.

Cabatuan Cemetery entrance


More importantly, what makes a city beautiful are the people in it. I wouldn’t end this list without mentioning how fantastic Ilonngos are. It is not named City of Love for nothing. Ilonggos are literally very sweet (malambing) people.  This is easily hinted with the way we speak in a sing-song honeyed dialect. We are very laid-back but not complacent, easy to offer a smile but not naïve and artistically-inclined & passionate about food.

I hope I have convinced my friends to visit my hometown with my Cliff Notes version of Iloilo City as well as others too. I would wish more people can see & experience the innocent charm of Iloilo City and hopefully fall in love with (or if they are lucky, in) this city of love.  I beam with pride as I look at the list of the wonderful things about our amazing city. This is just me, a proud Ilongga signing off.

About Me:






Honeylette Cainday, M.D.

Family Medicine Resident Physician in Iloilo Mission Hospital. Freelance writer. Womens’ Rights advocate. Entrepreneur & part- owner of DOK!ES GRILL. Bookworm. Travel enthusiast. Blogger:






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