Where did August go? Would you believe that we’re already starting off with the ber months? Whew. Hopefully, we’ll finally say goodbye to the sweltering heat and the annoying humidity and move on with the fresh and chilly breeze. I imagine myself sitting on the car’s front seat with open windows while nodding my head and swaying to an alternative pop playlist.
(Nodding my head like yeah, moving my hips like yeah) A road trip sounds like a good idea. A road trip to the south of Iloilo sounds even better.
Oton is pretty much a small city already. Tigbauan and Guimbal are perfect spots for beach getaways. Miagao, on the other hand, is an ideal destination for a road trip. For one, it doesn’t take so much time if your starting point is Iloilo City. You’ll enjoy bypassing wide cemented roads, long and short bridges, clean coastal areas, and great views of greens without the inconvenience of heavy traffic. There’s just something about Miagao that makes it a perfect end point.
When we were kids, our parents would often take us to Miagao to visit our relatives. Now that my Papa’s uncle and aunt have passed away, we only visit their graves on the 1st of November each year. Nevertheless, the trip is always worth it. I love long rides, anyway. I always had this notion that Miagao is home to the rich, the illustrados. And maybe it is where the elites live to this day. After all, Miagao is known for its grandeur and novelty. What with the reasons I am about to share…
Of course, the church is the most important stop. The St. Thomas of Villanueva Church was built in 1797 and declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. It boasts of baroque architecture and displays a beautiful mishmash of Spanish and Filipino cultures. I had to quit staring at it because it was scorching hot. It would take you some time before you can gaze at all intricate details on its façade. I had the chance to go up to its bell tower several years ago. It was quite eerie, but the ambiance is worth it. Just take a few seconds to feel the atmosphere and it will take you back in time when the churchgoers still wore Maria Claras and barongs.
Some time next year, there will be a new Hablon Weaving Center at Brgy. Indag-an. For the meantime, the weavers are still housed at a smaller hub. A quick stop at their center to observe the weavers will leave you in awe. It’s amazing to think that the hablon industry, which began even before the Spanish regime, is still alive. We have the Miagaoanons to thank for that. Read a more in-depth post about hablon here.
Food and Delicacies
Each town in Iloilo prides on specific delicacies and food. Miagao has sweet mangoes, bayi-bayi, puto, kalamay hati, and ibos with pulot to be proud of. I particularly love their kalamay-hati and puto. Yes, I am particular with my puto! Puto sa dahon has a very distinct taste and smell. It isn’t too sticky, too sweet, and too sandy. It was made perfect and works on its own, even without the help of cheese. Miagao’s puto is faultless… and flawless. The same is true for their kalamay hati – perfectly sticky and sweet. It’s the kalamay hati that my uncle from abroad craves for all the time.
Not just because I’m biased, but because the trip to the UP Miagao Campus is another adventure in itself. The campus is complete. It has hundreds of trees, wide green fields, small hills, fresh air, and even a beach. It also houses the Museum of Natural Sciences where you can observe preserved sea creatures from turtles to pygmy whales. The campus is 1200 hectares wide so don’t think you can walk around the whole campus easily. When you visit, take a picture with the Diwata, a statue of the goddess of the sea just in front of the College of Fisheries Building. Stare at the fish at her feet and figure out what it is. Sit down near one of the five dormitories. Smile at an Iska to spark a conversation. A brief talk with one may change your life. Or not. Also, drop by Oble near the campus entrance.
You must visit the two UPV campuses when you come to Iloilo. The Iloilo City campus has lots of things to offer as well. These campuses have two different characters, albeit the same in some elements. Sorry, had to plug that in.
Aside from these places, you can also visit Cagbang Pottery, Damilisan’s Baluarte, and Taytay Boni if you want to get in touch with history. For others who want to turn their road trip to an adventure, you can climb up the Cabalaunan Mountains to look at Miagao’s very own rice terraces. Or maybe you can hike to Tinagong Dagat, Gui-ob Ni Tidoy and the Sinuhutan Cave, or the Bugsukan Falls.
See, there are so many things to do in Miagao. But start with a road trip with your friends next weekend. Wanna go with?