Lazada Philippines

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dinagyang 2014: The First Day to My Dream Philippine Festival

Funny it may seem that it took me a year to prepare for this and yet I'm still unprepared to what I'll be doing here. One thing I'm sure of, I'm excited to experience one of the most colorful and celebrated festivals in the Philippines - Dinagyang Festival.

Happening every fourth weekend of January here in Iloilo City, Dinagyang is celebrated with tons of fun and excitement together with some faith as the Señor Sto. Niño of Cebu brought into a procession on the streets of Iloilo along with a great number of street dancers all dressed in shinning and shimmering costumes and swaying to unique drumbeats made by different band groups.

This year, there are about 16 contingents from different parts of Iloilo and of the Visayas are vying to be the Dinagyang 2014 champion. And on the first day of my Dinagyang vacation here in Iloilo, January 23, I am welcomed by not just some drumbeats and colorful masks and costumes but also genuine sweet smiles from Ilonggos, who made the festivity more memorable and worth-experiencing.

Arriving at Iloilo Airport at around 2 in the afternoon, I went straight to the van terminal, where private vans are hired to take guests to SM City Iloilo (fare, Php50.00). Roughly, it's a 30-minute ride from the airport to SM City Iloilo, so if you are on a budget, taking these service, terminal-to-terminal vans are your best options.

I'm already starving then, and my first order of business here in Iloilo, is to have a taste of their famous dish, the La Paz Batchoy. And luckily, inside SM, there's the Ted's Oldtimer, which is one of the famous names when it to this dish.

Having their Extra Super, plus a bottle of soda a piece of pan de sal, I had my late lunch here with a smile and happy tummy. (Lunch, Php106.00)

Ted's Oldtimer La Paz Batchoy

After having lunch, which filled me really good, I head to the jeepney terminal, which just right outside the mall. I'll be heading to the City Proper to check-in at Hotel Madia-as. One of the oldest hotel in town, Hotel Madia-as offers convenience and good value of your money since it is just a block away from famous Iloilo landmarks like Calle Real, Fort San Pedro, Plaza Libertad, Iloilo City Hall and the Freedom Grandstand, which is venue of the final performance of the Dingyang street dancers. (Single room a night, Php585.00)

Calle Real

By 6 p.m., I headed to La Paz District to try another La Paz Batchoy meal. This time, my feet brought me inside La Paz Public Market. La Paz Public Market is said to be housing the best La Paz Batchoy in town, and probably of the whole Iloilo and Panay Island, the Netong's La Paz Batchoy.

A simple food stall at the corner of La Paz Public Market, Netong's offers an array of La Paz Batchoy and other Ilonggo dishes that are very affordable and come in big serving sizes.

Of course, I ordered their best kind, the Extra Batchoy. I also order some puto and a bottle of soda, so this served as my dinner already. (Dinner, Php106.00)

Netong's La Paz Batchoy

Both Ted's and Netong's offer "unli-sabaw" or unlimited soup for the Batchoy, so if you think that a serving of their delicious and hot soup is not enough, just asked their servers and they'll be delighted to bring you some.

After my dinner there, I decided to take a walk and enjoy to cold air going to Iloilo Capitol. Globe Telecommunications has a program there, so i decided to check it out. There are some games for our Ilonggo friends there, as well as some performances from Panay Island's homegrown talents. (Globe Dinagyang Party, free)

I think I've been there from some 30 minutes already when I decided to check my mobile phone and saw a message from my friend Enrico Dee of that he is heading to Freedom Grandstand.

Freedom Grandstand

So, without further ado, I took a jeepney ride back to the City Proper to meet him, and his team, the Bacolod Masskara Festival contingent, and see them practice their routine.

There are other teams rehearsing too, and since it is already late, Enrico's team decided to go back to their place while I bid goodbye to them and headed back to Hotel Madia-as and call it a day.

The following day is gonna be a busy for I'm scheduled to meet my other friends and transfer from Hotel Madia-as to Bernard Arellano of's place at Pavia, Iloilo.

So, that's for me today and hopefully I have lots of stories to share on my second day here in Iloilo! Good night and Happy Rammmpa!

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