(click on the gallery images to open the full-size photo)
It’s finally summer here in Iloilo. I say “summer” with a big LOL after the word because it’s ALWAYS summer here for somebody like me, a former denizen of the Bitter North in the USA. My relatives are currently under a foot of snow and freezing their tushes off. Half an hour ago I walked to the mall in short sleeves. Yeehaw. The word “summer” here in the Philippines means a season of more sun and less rain (if luck is with you). The sunshine takes on that brilliant, incisive quality I associate with sunshine in Greece, where the illuminated surfaces fairly glow and the shadows cast are like ink. It’s a lovely time of the year here and I want to celebrate it by taking you on a little trip around Iloilo and its environs. My trusty motorbike and I go out and about often in weather like this, so on a few of my trips I’ve had my camera out capturing some of the sights. Come along and let me show you what lovely sights there are to see.
My time in Iloilo is quickly drawing to a close. I moved here almost two years ago in an escape from Father Winter. As I mentioned above, my strategy has been 100% successful in that regard. I loll about on my balcony at all times of night and day enjoying the balmy weather while my relatives back in the States are past the ankles in snow and have at least two more months before the “w” word ceases to hold sway over the weather report. I could have effected my strategy anywhere in the Philippines, however. Why Iloilo?
Well, let me tell you. Before I moved to PH I knew that I didn’t want to be on Luzon, the big island in the north of the country that serves as a platform for the ungodly sprawl of Manila. There are plenty of other places on Luzon where Manila doesn’t get in your face, but when you look at the weather patterns it quickly becomes clear that if the urban sprawl doesn’t get you the weather just might. Storms come from the East, where the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean lies. When they hit land in the Philippines they invariably first hit those islands with eastern flanks exposed to the Pacific, a category into which Luzon fits over its entire length. This past year two major typhoons wreaked havoc on Luzon, one in the north and another in the south. Both storms did serious damage including loss of life due to mudslides. All I experienced here on Panay Island was a bit of rain and the odd gust of wind — inconvenient, perhaps, for sitting out on the balcony but hardly life-threatening. That’s why I chose this part of the country, Western Visayas. There are several islands to the East that take the brunt of typhoons before any major effects reach Panay Island, so only those typhoons (read: hurricanes) that reach superstorm status are still strong enough after reaching Panay Island to do major damage.
I chose wisely in that regard. There’s never been any major storm damage here in Iloilo since I took up residence. Mind you, the weather patterns here in the rainy season (June through September) remind you of Seattle in the wintertime. Last year it rained almost uninterruptedly for much of June and a good bit of July. After getting through it I swore this year I’d go somewhere like Dubai for a month just to escape it. As things have turned out, however, I’ll be exiting stage left during the tail end of the Philippine summer and heading into summer back in the States, so I’m safe on that bet, thank goodness.
After first arriving in the country in 2017 I based myself in Cebu and travelled around the Visayas area, the central bit south of Luzon and north of Mindanao. As soon as I got a good look at Iloilo I thought to myselft, “By George, I think we’ve got it.” I went back to Cebu for a few weeks, came back to Iloilo a second time for a full week to scope things out and decided during that visit to put roots down here. I’ve never regretted the decision and still believe Iloilo is the nicest city in Visayas. It can hold its own with places anywhere in the country as far as quality of life goes. The beaches here on the southern end of Panay Island are not good — geology deals them a bad hand because the rock is largely volcanic in origin. Unlike coral that makes those fantastic tropical fantasyland beaches you’re used to seeing in the tourist brochures, volcanic rock gives you something more like the coast of Maine or Oregon. It’s rocky and the sand is not blinding white — in fact in some places it’s dark. That’s what happens if you start the process with basalt, there’s nothing to be done about it. Being in any case much more a mountain person than a beach bum, I remained completely undaunted by the lack of fine beaches at close range. It’s easy enough to get to one if you have the urge. Overall quality of life has top priority for me and Iloilo delivers on that commodity like a champ.
I’m in the modern part of the city very near two new developments that would be sources of pride in the USA, to be honest. Here are a few pics: