Where to stay, what to do,
and what to see–Iloilo.
Steeped in rich heritage that has birthed modern creative communities, there’s a lot more to Iloilo than their steaming bowls of batchoy. Though, food is always the prime focus during any visit to this province, and for good reason—Ilonggo cuisine is hearty and comforting, and it’s everywhere. But Iloilo is also a story of vivid cultural evolution; historic mansions, heritage houses, and 19th-century churches tower over the towns like guardians of the past. Our latest guide to Iloilo is a nod to all these aspects, so you can take home a renewed appreciation for this timeless place.
Iloilo’s Molo district is the province’s heritage center. Here, the Molo Mansion still stands as an active part of the social fabric.
Upon arrival at Iloilo City, one immediately notices the string of developments lined around its metro. It’s a clear indicator of the region’s stock. The Richmonde Hotel Iloilo’s establishment back in 2015 has, in a lot of ways, heralded the growth of the city in this short amount of time. When it was launched, it was virtually devoid of neighbors. Now, it stands first among many upcoming developments at the bustling Iloilo Business Park. It’s the first luxury hotel of its caliber in the city and continues to set the standard for those who will come after it.
Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art
Iloilo isn’t just about the food, of course. It’s home to an incredibly robust art scene that’s experiencing one of its most vibrant periods to date. Now, fittingly, it’s also home to the Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art (ILOMOCA), a 2,711-square-meter behemoth encompassing 3 floors, 5 exhibit rooms, and a theater facility. It’s the first of its kind in the Visayas and Mindanao, the only museum in these regions specifically catering to modern and contemporary art. Housed in the neoclassical-inspired Casa de Emperador, ILOMOCA’s impeccably curated inaugural exhibits are a nod to those who have influenced Ilonggo artists, both local and international. Its launch can only bode well for the art industry in Western Visayas and the nation at large.
Dova Brunch Café
Miguel Cordova is top among a line of chefs in Iloilo broadening the gastronomic landscape in the region. His opening of Dova Brunch Café is an acknowledgement that the Ilonggo palate can take more than the usual local fare. At Dova, Filipino ingredients play well alongside international dishes. Winners range from the sweet to the savory, from decadent pancakes to the braised beef pasta. Our personal favorite is simple: deep-fried cheese balls, thoroughly indulgent and comforting— which in itself describes the Ilonggo approach to food. It just goes to show that no matter the form, the appetite and the philosophy that drives the cuisine remains the same.
Some establishments have become so popular and attached to a place, so well-recommended as to be cliché, that one might contrarily be tempted to skip out on a visit. But to subject Breakthrough Restaurant, a beloved seafood chain in Iloilo, to that judgement is to make a grave mistake. There’s a reason why residents and visitors alike continue to patronize the 31-year-old institution. The freshness of its seafood is the sort that Iloilo is famous for. During our visit, we drowned in luscious clams and scallops, took our fill of their fantastic aligue rice. A meal at Breakthrough is very much a part of the Ilonggo experience, a ritual practiced and passed on among family. If by the end of the meal your table isn’t covered in shells yet, something has gone terribly wrong. Please amend immediately.
In the heart of Iloilo’s bustling Molo District, the Molo Church’s moniker as “the feminist church” is attributed to the 16 female saint statues perched on the church’s aisle pillars. Its neogolithic architecture signifies Iloilo’s Spanish-colonial history.
Like the water of this rehabilitated river, this city is moving and flowing, no longer stagnated.
in Guimaras, just a
boat ride from Iloilo City.