Friday, September 7, 2012

The Visayas: Retracing Our National Hero's Steps & Side Trips...

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Last August 1-4, 1896, Dr. Jose Rizal found himself in DumagueteCebu and Iloilo ohis way back to Manila from his exile in Dapitan, Zamboanga del NorteI believe this was the only time and the only places our national hero had been out of the 16 provinces that comprise the Visayas or Visayan Islands, the third largest geographical divisions of the Philippines, along with Luzon and Mindanao
In reversed juxtaposition with that of Dr. Jose Rizal and my umpteenth time in Iloilo,  Dumaguete and Cebu, I culminated mLakbay Jose Rizal @ 150 Passport Heritage Trail last May 17 - 21, 2012  and finished at No. 65. Collectively and with side trips to Bacolod City, San Carlos City, Sipaway Island, Siquijor Island, and the Santander - Oslob - Boljoon stretch to Cebu City,  I had a taste of history, fresh air, pristine white sand beaches, cheap adventures, and I can't get enough!

Itineraries: May 17-21, 2012 
  1. Fly via Air Philippines to Iloilo International Airport 
  2. Van Ride to Molo, Iloilo 
  3. Ride ferry to cross to Bacolod City, Negros Island
  4. Bus ride to San Carlos City,  Negros Island
  5. Ride boat to Sipaway Island and back to  San Carlos City,  Negros Island 
  6. Bus ride to Dumaguete City, Negros Island
  7. Ride ferry to cross to Siquijor and ferry back to Dumaguete Port 
  8. Bus ride to Sibulan Port, Negros Island 
  9. Boat ride to Liloan, Santander, Cebu
  10. Bus ride from Santander-Oslob-Boljoon- to Cebu City and then to Cebu International Airport
  11. Fly out  Cebu International Airport

1 Iloilo City, Panay Island  
       May 17, 2012 Arrival: 5:50am
Profile:Better known for its beautiful Spanish colonial Churches,  Iloilo is a province in the Philippines bounded in the west by Antique and Capiz and considered as the largest marshland in the Western Visayas. With its capital Iloilo City, Iloilo used to be a leading province during the Spanish Colonial Era.
Rizal Site Visited:Molo Church (St. Anne's Parish) & Escolta in Molo District, Iloilo CityBuilt in 1863, the church boast of a Gothic - Rennaisance architecture which Dr. Jose Rizal found admirable last August 4, 1896, remarking "La Iglesia Bonita".
My Travel Notes(worthy!): Iloilo Airport. My post Take 4 in Iloilo says it all about my third visit in this province in the Western Visayas to kick start the Visayan Leg of my Lakbay Jose Rizal Heritage Trail. But something can be told of the new Iloilo International Airport located in Cabatuan and Santa Barbara, which replaced the old Manduriao Airport in June 2007. The airport is not only large, modern and beautiful but it is also tourist friendly  with maps and brochures at the tourist counter that started us out in the right direction!
Side Trips: I chose Bacolod City as a jump off point for our bus travel to other cities and towns of the Province of Negros Occidental, the Sugarbowl of  the Philippines. Since I have been in the City of Smiles for many business travels and have seen much of its tourist spots then, I was only looking for a good (but cheap) hotel to spend the night away! I was in luck to find the Saltimboca Inn in Lacson Street, Bacolod City. Check my post  Take 4 in Bacolod City to find out the kind of pampering I got without leaving a hole in my pocket! 

Missing the bus bound to Dumaguete from Bacolod City allowed me to discover a unique tour and a new place in the Visayas! Check my post  Ceres Tours Supershots to see how I went sightseeing with a "green" twist from Bacolod City to  San Carlos City feasting on the sights for 2 1/2 hours during my first provincial bus ride!
San Carlos City maybe a crossroad city being in the middle of four major cities in the Visayas - Cebu City, Bacolod City, Iloilo City and Dumaguete City, but the location is not all that it offers. I was really impressed with its People's Park that overlooks the Sipaway Island and features a giant swimming pool, gazebo, promenades, children's playground and picnic areas ideal for the much needed relaxation. For downtown eats, never miss out on their Crispy Pata
And if you just can't get enough looking at Sipaway Island (geographically known as Refugio Island), go head there and you can do just that by crossing aboard outrigger boat for 15 minutes from the city proper.  For only Php 20 boat fee and a tricycle ride of Php 20 each (if with 4 more passengers), you can have fun at the Whispering Palm Island Resort. For Php 300 inclusive of a day tour entrance and lunch, you can breathe in the fresh mountain air and enjoy a dip at its cool water, feeling its white sand and feasting on the beautiful tropical sights! 

2 Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental
    May 19, 2012 Arrival: 9:00am
Profile:Nicknamed The City of Gentle People, Dumaguete is the capital, and the largest city of the province of Negros Oriental. It is a principal seaport being a coastal city bounded on the east by the Mindanao Sea serving as a natural border for the provinces of Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor. 
Rizal Site Visited:Dumaguete City and Rizal Boulevard, popular seafront promenade. Aboard the steamer S.S. Espana Dr. Jose Rizal arrived in Dumaguete City at midnight and visited his friends including Governor Regal, whom he met in Dapitan and former classmate, Herrero Regidor, a provincial judge.
My Travel Notes (worthy!):Since I have been around Dumaguete, my itinerary only includes a general sightseeing for my brother's sake and finding a hotel with desirable amenities and a reasonable price tag for a good night sleep. Harold's Mansion Inn (Add: 205 Hibbard Avenue near Siliman University) fits the bill. The Php 900/night for AC room, hot shower for 2 pax also comes with a free wireless connection and a breakfast of bread and jam (and coffee) . There is also a small coffee shop where you can use the internet for 30 minutes at no cost if you didn't bring your own laptop. Food is tasty, huge and wallet friendly too. The Sans Rival and other product of this store is a must-try!
Side Trips:Oh well, I forgot to tell you that the main reason draw of being in Dumaguete again is to be able to jump on the bandwagon of claiming that I have been in the mystic island of Siquijor!  Dumaguete port is a jump off point to get to any of the 6 municipalities of this so-called Island of Fire. But with a limited time on our hands we stayed in San Juan! The beach looks stunning and picturesque if you are only after taking pictures and admiring the views, but not recommended for those looking for a good swim since the sand is muddy and soft. Good thing the resort we chose has a swimming pool (using water from the beach!) and a hammock for the needed break away and relaxation while at the same time checking off my 64th out of the 80 provinces of the Philippines!

3 Cebu City, Province of Cebu
        May 21, 2012 Arrival: 12:00 nn
Profile:One of the most developed province in the Philippines, Cebu is a long narrow island stretching 225 kilometers from north to south and bounded  to the east by Negros and to the west of Leyte and Bohol islands. Its capital is Cebu City, which is considered the oldest city in the Philippines and the main center of commerce, trade, education and industry in the Visayas
Rizal Site Visited:Fort San Pedro in Pier Area, Cebu City. For a routine one-day stop over, the steamer S.S. Espana docked in Cebu City where Dr. Rizal was taken into custody by Commander Ricardo Carcinero and brought to Fuerza de San Pedro, a triangular fort used as a military defense structure built under the command of Miguel Lopez De Legaspi. At present, it is a museum that housed Spanish artifacts.
My Travel Notes (worthy!):  Although not our first time in Cebu City, getting there is an experience dubbed with a lot of "firsts". First time to cross the Sibulan, Negros Occidental - Liloan, Santander channel on an outrigger pumpboat that lasted for 30 minutes and first time to appreciate the jetty ride, finding myself taking lots of pics of the panoramic views on a sunny day like that. The ferry crossing cost P45 each (inclusive of terminal fee). First time to pass through Santander - Boljoon - Oslob (places on a hot seat recently because of the whale shark issues) and finding the views exhilarating that I couldn't keep my camera away while inside the super cold AC Ceres Bus (that cost P176/each). Merely looking at the sights, these towns in southeast Cebu has so many things to offer sans whale shark watching. I hope to check out the Spanish period stone churches like Patrocino de Maria Church in Boljoon, Tumalog Falls in Oslob, and white sand beaches in Santander.


This is my entry to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for September 2012 with the theme The Visayas Round Up hosted by the Pinoy Explorer, Ding Fuellos. Check out the previous blog carnival topics in Estan Cabigas' Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival.

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