(1st of 2 parts)
MANGGAHAN Festival 2018 is coming and it’s going to be an even sweeter fiesta as we celebrate its 25th Anniversary! Let’s list down 25 reasons why you should go to Guimaras Island and celebrate with us this coming May 11-22.
Seen this gigantic mango around? Or ever had a picture taken with him? He’s not just any costumed personality. He is Bagul, the mango man. Bagul was created in 2010 to become the official mascot of Manggahan Festival. He became the face of Guimaras since then and has graced the photos of both local and foreign tourists. He can be seen roaming the streets and the different expos/fairs during the month-long celebration of Manggahan Festival. Bagul, also known in English as mango seed, is the hard and hairy center of the mango fruit. Bagul is named as such because of the fruit’s finger-lickin’ good sweetness that no one lets go of it until all that’s left is the center. Bagul can also be seen in souvenir items such as keychains and key-holders.
- MANGO CHANDELIER
Mango Chandelier Nope, mangoes don’t bear fruits this way. And no, mangoes aren’t sold this way either. These are the Mango Chandeliers of Guimaras. Built with precision and finesse, these chandeliers are the masterpieces of various mango farmers and producers during the Manggahan Festival Agri-Trade Fair. They’re not just for mere display and aesthetics; they’re the pride of each booth too. Some even compete for the best mango chandeliers. The bigger and well-arranged the mango chandelier, the more people take pictures with it and more customers buy mangoes from the booth that has it. Mango chandeliers are intricately made with green mangoes freshly harvested along with their stems, which are then tied with plastic straws. The stems allow the fruit to dangle and to be arranged according to the farmer’s style. The mango fruits are chosen according to size and color to complement the producers’ desired design too. Come see the mango chandeliers of Guimaras this Manggahan Festival 2018. They sure are a sight to behold!
- MANGO TOAST
Mango Toast It’s not what you think it is the first time you’ve heard of it. No, it’s not mango juice. And no, it’s not mango wine either. Mango Toast is the toasting of mango fruits and eating them immediately after the Manggahan Festival has been officially opened. It is done during the gathering of Guimarasnon political leaders, government employees, distinguished guests, and important personalities for the official announcement of the festival’s commencement. It resembles the unity of Guimarasnons and their pride of what their island province is globally known for: mangoes. Experience true Guimarasnon spirit and toast mangoes with them throughout the Manggahan Festival. Be a local; be a Guimarasnon while you’re in Guimaras.
- AGRI-TRADE FAIR
Agri-Trade Fair May is the time when Guimarasnons’ social media platforms are bombarded with greens and yellows. It’s also the time when all tourists, local and foreign, crowd at the Provincial Capitol Grounds. What for? Manggahan Festival and the Agri-Trade Fair that comes along with it. The Agri-Trade Fair is an expo open to all producers of authentic Guimarasnon products. Displayed in the different booths are products such as bignay wine, cashew nuts, dried fish, calamansi juice, kamote chips, pinasugbu, etc. and, of course, lots and lots of mangoes. Souvenir items like T-shirts, keychains, woven bags, pandan baskets, and wood carvings are likewise found here. Basically, this is where the hashtags for social media posts come from. You were not in Guimaras if you were not able to bring home a box of mangoes. And you haven’t been to Guimaras if you haven’t had a picture at the Agri-Trade Fair. So don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience Guimaras and get a taste of the island province through the Agri-Trade Fair.
- Strategic Location
When in Manila and other cities, and people ask where Guimaras really is, always have a map in hand or on your phone. You wouldn’t want to miss a chance to sell the province to potential tourists. Guimaras is strategically located in between the islands of Panay and Negros. It can be reached via a 15-minute boat ride from Iloilo City or an hour boat ride from Pulupandan, Negros Occidental. It can likewise be reached via RORO trips from Lapuz in Iloilo and Pulupandan in Negros. So if you’re thinking of having a side-trip while you’re in the City of Love or the City of Smiles, Guimaras is always on top of the list. The island-province boasts of tropical weather that’s ideal for outdoor activities like camping, going to the beach, biking etcetera making Guimaras the island of Mangoes and More! Make your vacation complete and visit the paradise that is Guimaras. You sure wouldn’t wanna miss it!
- ISLAND HOPPING
Visualizing that vacation feels that you want to sport for your feed goals this summer? Wanna splatter your timeline with blue and white? Guimaras just has the solution for that. Guimaras, apart from its inland and beachfront resorts, is surrounded with islets that’ll put your feeds on fleek. From the tiny islands in the surrounding areas of SubaMalawig and Alubihod, to the sandbars at the Floating Cottage and near Magic Island, one couldn’t help but take loads of photos and upload them to curate their desired feeds. Plan now while it’s still early. You wouldn’t wanna be last on the Instagram and Facebook feed tilt.
- Trappist Monastery
Think Guimaras is all about beaches and mangoes? Explore the other side of Guimaras with its religious and spiritual destinations. On top of the list: Trappist Abbey. Trappist is the only men’s monastery in the Philippines, best known for their extreme strictness that characterizes their discipline. They are the go-to for retreat and reflection as the entire grounds are basked in the monks’ observance of meditation, silence, and prayer. The monks likewise sell their own pasalubong items under the brand Trappist Monastic Food Products. All of their products are made from the ingredients grown in the garden within their vicinity. Buying these monk-manufactured products is also a way of helping them as this is how they earn a living, and for the maintenance of this silent sanctuary. Trappist Monastery Abbey also has guest houses at affordable prices to provide accommodation for those who are seeking a personal and private time amidst a busy life from the city. So if you’re feeling lost, down, or confused, feel free to talk to the monks in the Trappist Monastery Abbey and seek for their help and spiritual guidance.
- Navalas Church
Now, what would mak,e a road trip more memorable and complete? A trip down history and memory lane. And Navalas Church surely doesn’t disappoint.
Navalas Church is the oldest Roman Catholic church and the only heritage church in Guimaras. It is made out of sillar or coral rocks which are shaped into squares and brought into the church grounds by the townspeople in the 1880s when the church was built. These sillars are given in exchange for clothes made of piña fiber which are then worn by the locals when they attend mass. The original watchtower, which is still in front of the church, used to give early warnings for impending pirate attacks then. Navalas Church transports you to way back in time and it allows for you to imagine what life used to be during the Spanish colonization. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience Navalas Church. Experience the contributions of history to Guimaras, and vice versa, while you’re within the island province.
- ROCA ENCANTADA
Roca EncantadaWanna feel like a haciendera/haciendero or a true blue-blood without paying for anything but the 50 PHP entrance fee? Visit Roca Encantada, the historic mansion atop a hill. Roca Encantada is a famous landmark and summer house of the Lopezes here in Guimaras. It was built in 1910 in honor of Doña PresentacionHofileña Lopez. It was declared by the National Heritage Institute as a heritage house. Apart from its grandiose architecture, Roca Encantada also offers a picturesque view of the Iloilo Strait, a shadow of Negros Occidental, and a sight of Las Islas de SietePecados. Don’t miss the chance to upload a shot of your best rich-kid and señor/señorita post: a backward glance, eyes hooded, mouth pouted, and a whole lotta attitude.
- DOT-ACCREDITED ESTABLISHMENTS
Two things are definitely on everyone’s to-do list before they go on their well-deserved vacation: travel itineraries and the hunt for the best accommodations. Guimaras sure has a number of DOT-Accredited Tourism Establishments which caters to the various activities sought by tourists. For those who are up for adventures and a short trek, Nature’s Trail Camp and Resort, Villa Igang Beach Resort, and Valle Verde Mountain Resort sure won’t disappointment as they have attractions of their own. For those who wish to bask in a little bit of history, Guisi Clearwater Resort is just a few minutes away from the historic Guisi Lighthouse which is one of the oldest lighthouses built in the island during the Spanish Colonial Era. On the other hand, for those who love resorts with aesthetics and architecture, Neptune Pittman’s Garden Resort & Spa, Raymen Beach Resort, and Jannah-Glycel Beach House offer a pleasing view and a unique landscaping. And for those who love to take moments away from the busy city life, Magic Island Resort, La Puerta el Paraiso, and Costa Aguada Island Resort will take minds away from stress and whisk hearts for the perfect getaway. Whatever your trip may be for the summer, Guimaras has your back. Let the island province transport you to stress-free, fun-filled, and relaxing vacation days.
Are you among the most adventurous of the adventures? Seeking that wanderer feels in the real sense of the word? Guimaras is a rising venue for camping and backpacking today. The island has various locations for the backpackers at heart and for those who wish to travel with open plans and free itineraries. As Guimaras is gifted with diverse land and water features, backpackers can have access to the stunning mountain views and awesome waterfalls scattered around the island province. While exploring the wonders of Guimaras, tourists can choose to stay in hostels and inns located in the heart of the island’s capital of San Miguel, Jordan. Zemkamps Chalet offers the most upscale rooms from among the inns and hostels, but for those who are looking for budget-friendly accommodations without the compromise for comfort and convenience, Jm Backpackers Inn offers an array of rooms to choose from, depending on the number of guests or the space that the guests would like. Moreover, Pine Haven and Sidewalkers Inn also cater to those who wish for decent accommodations while touring the island. Hurry! Pack your bags and get ready to go. The island of Guimaras is ready for you!
They say you’ve never really experienced a place until you’re tight with the locals. So just how can you be closest to the aborigines? Stay with them while you’re at their place. Just like AirBnB, Guimaras is likewise offering homestay accommodations. Experience the Guimarasnons’ hospitality and their warm way of welcoming you into their homes and into their families as you stay with them. Not only that, but experience a Guimarasnons’ generosity as they extend their help in getting you to the possible destinations in the island that you can visit during your stay. Stay with Guimarasnons when visiting Guimaras. Become a Guimarasnon while you’re here. Experience Guimaras, experience being just like a local.
Modes of transportation turned into live brochures and promotional materials for tourism? Yepp, definitely! Pintraysekel is an initiative of the Provincial Government of Guimaras for local artists to display their artworks of the island’s tourist destinations onto one of the most famous and most convenient modes of transportation in Guimaras: tricycles. Pinta (paint) plus traysekel (local term for tricycle); hence, PINTRAYSEKEL. These pintraysekels make people’s stay, visit, tour – their overall experience of Guimaras – more festive and colorful while riding in style, without compromising coolness. So next time you pay Guimaras a visit, make sure to travel with style with these artsy pintraysekels.