Trip to Ilo-ilo City (Part 1)

Hi! I’ve been behind with blogging since I had several things to catch up on after staying in Iloilo for a three days trip.

Me and my family usually travel around places but do not spend much to see the historical sites and beautiful places, there are airlines promos which everyone could avail and cost less than a quarter of the usual ticket cost. We were able to get a promo flight going to Iloilo and I was thrilled about this trip because it’s my first time to visit Banate and see some of my relatives from my mother side which is the last time I see them is when I was still a kid and also to witness some old churches in Jaro.

Our trip was booked from September 23rd till the 25th, with a side trip to Banate. Checking the net for places to visit in Ilo-Ilo, we were able to go in places like the Church of Jaro, the old ancestral houses and the places where we could eat authentic ilonggo foods.

I was kinda nervous on the day of our flight because Metro Manila is experiencing some tropical depression and some roads are flooded. So to make sure if there is cancellation of flights, my dad called the Cebu Pacific customer service to ask about our flight status and the representative told my dad that all the flights scheduled for that day are push-through. We are booked with Cebu Pacific Air and boarded to its domestic terminal in Terminal 3. The plane take-off exact the time of the scheduled departure time; and it’s still dark and raining when we take-off. Travel time from Manila to Iloilo is only one hour via plane. Few minutes later, the pilot announced preparation for arrival; seriously, that fast? But it isn’t an easy landing as it then took us minutes to touch down the airport. Big clouds were hindering the aircraft’s view to get to the airport’s runway. We were then assured that everything’s OK. What only worries me was what if the pilot decided to bring us back to Manila? But after several attempts, we were then able to land Iloilo International Airport safely and sound. That was a tough one! But as the saying goes, there’s a rainbow always after the rain. Right? It took us around 45 minutes to reach the Panay Island where Iloilo province is located.
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Panorama view of Ilo-ilo from above: Look how green and beautiful it is. :)

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Arrive at Iloilo International Airport at around 12:35pm. The airport serves the general area of Iloilo City. The airport vicinity is pretty impressive. Seats are conveniently available. There are also LCD screens available in the waiting area. Inside you’ll see restaurants and souvenir centers which I can say, offer affordable meals and products despite that they are situated in the airport. Outside the airport, you can either take taxi or shuttle service to your destination. But, since we are being fetch by our relatives we go straight to the hotel at Sarabia Manor Hotel where I booked for us which is located in General Luna St. Iloilo City which around 45 minutes travel from the airport . It was clean, smelled fresh and spacious. For 1,300 php per night, the room can fit in 2-4 persons. The A/C room has its own bathroom, a T.V. set with cable ready, a single and twin beds, and to top it all they have FREE wi-fi only in lobby area. If you want to have wi-fi ready in your room you can request in the reception area but with additional charge of Php150 per night. No free breakfast though but it isn’t bad as well right? If you will took a shuttle service (if in a tight budget), the drop-off is in SM Iloilo. This only costs Php50 per passenger and travel time is about 30 minutes. From SM City Iloilo, you may opt to ride a jeepney or a taxi depending on your destination. After checking-in, we just rest for a while and begin our adventure to Iloilo.
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Hotel lobby

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I have always loved the countryside. Especially around the Philippines, the best part for me, is not just arriving at my destination, but enjoying the sceneries while getting there.  Looking out of the window of the car or a bus, the farm lands, plantations, villages, rivers and mountains I see along the way are as interesting as the tourist attractions in the city.

Iloilo, aside from it wonderful history and amazing tourist spots, is also popular all over globe for its tasty dishes. And if you are heading to Iloilo and still don’t know where to eat, well, you shouldn’t forget to include in your itinerary a place where every dish seemed so affordable – Tatoy’s Manokan and Seafoods!

First itinerary, we went to Villa Baybay to have late lunch. Specifically at Tatoy’s Manokan and Seafoods, which is very famous in Iloilo. It is Iloilo’s version of “paluto” or the seaside that we have here in Metro Manila, where you choose your meat or seafood and they will cook it for you. With its wide selection of pork, beef, seafood and vegetable dishes that you can order, Tatoy’s Manokoan is the perfect answer to those Iloilo dishes’ cravings. Tatoy’s is a native restaurant that serves Filipino, specializing in Ilonggo dishes. The place looks like a huge cottage in front of the beach, with open air ambiance and sand on the floor. Available dishes are displayed on the counter, where one of the staff can take the orders. When the word of mouth spread, the place become deluged with customers, and Tatoy’s was on its way to becoming the venerable institution it now is, with a beach front property that includes an indoor dining room, an outdoor pavilion and a convention hall.

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For now, I’ll content myself with enjoying and raving about the all-time favorite Ilonggo cuisines, prepared and served in his legendary restaurant. We had our lunch in one of the nipa huts across the street, which offered us a wonderful view of the sea and Guimaras Island further across.

tatoys beachfront

We ordered their house specialty – the Roasted Native Chicken (Lechon Manok). This is one of their best sellers. It is slightly salty but this dish was delicious you’d want to eat it even without rice. It commands a high price for an open fire roasted chicken. And it’s really worth it since you might never get to taste a litson manok anywhere else and it tastes like no other. I wouldn’t wonder because each bite is just bursting with so much flavor. There is nothing complicated on how this dish is cooked but Tatoy’s managed to hook us in craving for this often.

tatoys-native-chicken

Tatoy’s Sibingan (Grilled Blue Marlin) is cooked to perfection. It has a soft, flakey texture, and not dried-out, unlike how other grilled fish is served from other restaurants. In fact, this is one of the bestselling dishes in Tatoy’s. I simply just couldn’t get enough of this. It is among the best I’ve tasted since it sort is prepared inasal style. Check out the color of the fish and you’ll know instantly. Served boneless and most of the time in large size, it can be eaten on its own because of its already tasty timpla. No need to dip it in a toyo-calamansi-sili mixture.

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Grilled Squid is another one of my favorite in Tatoy’s. Two thumbs-up for its tasty, chewy texture. It’s so good; I’d even pop this in my mouth like a snack, with a glass of softdrink in my hand.

grilled-lokus

Of course we had the Baked Oysters. Oysters are a commodity here in Iloilo. You’ll easily find stalls serving the freshest and meatiest oysters. Oohh! Sooo yummy!! Even if people advised not to eat talaba (oysters) during the rainy season because they’re not as good, we still ordered because we miss it and talaba is very over priced in Manila. They were freshly baked and you can easily see that with how moist the melted cheese on top of the oyster is. Add to that, the oysters are all big. I officially declare, this is my new favorite.

tatoys-baked-oysters

Like any carnivore, we also had the Lechon. A plate is generously full of crispy skin and meat. The sauce shouldn’t be ignored too. It is paired with a well-made liver sauce. I guess that’s the reason why, for me, eating Lechon without a liver sauce just feels incomplete. I grew up knowing that it’s a staple pair.

My mom also ordered an ensaladang mangga in which the mangoes are slice in small squares mixed with onions and bagoong.

Alongside those tasty dishes, was a small bowl filled with vinegar and these chilies. It was my first time to try these little chilies from Iloilo, and to my shock, it was sooo hot!!! So, to warn you all before you crush them, these minis are deadly hot! :)

To refresh me from this gastronomic journey that I had here at Tatoy’s and to quench the fire that was brought by those chilies, I had their fresh Buko. Pure bliss. The coconut juice has the right level of sweetness and the meat is perfectly soft. It can be a beverage and a dessert. Add to that, I was pleasantly surprised with how big it is! In all fairness, I think this drink suited to the ambiance of the whole place.

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We got so full that we skipped having desserts anymore. The food and the location were great. We were really satisfied with the food. Everyone yawned after eating – maybe because of the afternoon sea breeze. If you’re visiting Iloilo, Tatoy’s is a must-try resto for authentic and reasonably-priced Filipino dishes. I’d love to visit Tatoy’s if I go back to Iloilo again. The waiters were very nice to us though. So extra tip for them and this just show, their staff made sure that customers enjoyed eating there. I tell you, you’ll leave the restaurant satiated.

Tatoy’s Manokan Seafood Restaurant
Baluarte-Calumpang-Villa-Oton Blvd  Iloilo City, Philippines
+63 33 337 4276

Soo, stay tuned for my Part 2 trip to Ilo-ilo!!! :D

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