Guimaras Countryside Birthday Tour

Having your birthday two weeks after New Year is odd. A problem is that you've probably spent all your moolah during the holidays leaving you with no money to spare. Also, people are generally tired. With the hectic schedule during the holidays, no one would really be excited (but you) about birthdays.
With these in mind I planned for something different for my 29th (nearing my third decade). A lot of firsts - first time to spend my birthday outside Quezon City (my safe zone for the past years), first time to do a tandem trip with my mom and first time to not treat anyone on my special day. So at 4:00 a.m., on the day of my birthday, me and my mom were at the airport waiting for our 6:00 a.m. flight to Iloilo. She haven't been in the Panay Area so everything will be new to her. 

Touchdown Iloilo. Almost a year ago, me and chyng were here for the Dinagyang Festival 2012 and I can still remember vividly the feeling when we were running on the streets of Iloilo and having loads of barbecue with love and cold beer on a cool Dinagyang morning.

Me and my mom immediately went to what they call "super" (maybe supermarket) or the wet market of the city to buy some dried fish (pasalubong agad pag kasama si ina). We then went to grab some Batchoy and then went pasalubong shopping (again) at Biscocho Haus. 

dried fish at "super"
Biscocho Haus
At around 12 noon. We went to Ortiz wharf, still in Iloilo City, to catch a boat to Jordan in Guimaras. We paid 14 pesos each for the ride. Take note that if you need to go to the town of Jordan by pumpboat you have to depart from the Ortiz wharf in Iloilo. But if you need to go to the town of Buenavista you have to depart from the Parola wharf in Iloilo. You can ask your contact tour guide/driver beforehand regarding this matter. There are regular trips (6:00 a.m. - 8:00/9:00 p.m.) every 15-30 minutes to and fro the province. Plans of constructing a bridge to connect the two provinces are still on the process but people there are divided on this matter. 

Ortiz wharf in Iloilo - for boats bound to Jordan, Guimaras

After 15 minutes of smooth boat ride, we were already in Guimaras. And right before we step out of the boat someone grabbed my bag and gave me a quick hug. I was surprised (who wouldn't) and saw a familiar face - Kuya Gerald (apparently his birth name is Cherald). He greeted me in a very loud manner that almost everyone in the boat already knew that it was my birthday. 

I introduced my mom to him and we immediately went to his tricycle. Kuya Gerald holds a special spot in the travel part of my heart. He's one of those people whom I met on the road that never failed to check on me every once in a while. And he constantly asks me of my much awaited comeback to Guimaras. And when I was thinking of having this kinda birthday trip I didn't think twice of going back again. And apparently, it was his birthday the day before mine - just great. For the whole duration of the trip, I seated at the back part of the tricycle. It was tough though, one wrong move (like taking a nap) would result to damage to - your camera :)

my spot and Kuya Gerald's new trike! :)

First stop was the Balaan Bukid. The stormy weather on my last visit in the province hindered our planned trip in this place. So it was the first thing on our tour that day. All the while I thought that bukid is a ricefield (Tagalog) but then Kuya Gerald clarified that it was a mountain for them. He also told us that we will be leaving the tricycle somewhere and we need to trek our way up to a chapel and a huge cross on top of the mountain. We will also be passing by the stations of the cross (I dunno exactly how many for I am not a Roman Catholic). 

After a few meters I know that my mom couldn't do it. She's a Kidney transplant patient for three years now and I am really afraid of anything that might happen to her - you know. With her permission, we left her on the house of Kuya Gerald's auntie. Knowing my mom, she would probably be friends with the auntie and the whole community after leaving her there. 

ang tunay na tour guide bitbit ang gamit ko - #imbento
Kuya Gerald and I took the time to catch up after 1 1/2 years which felt like just yesterday. Many things had happened - mostly good. He already built a new house for him and his family and bought a new tricycle for his tour guiding services. I am so happy for him. Really.

We reached the top of the bukid after a grueling 40 minutes (I bet you can do it in 15 minutes). And I just need to constantly say that I am not a mountain person. So upon reaching the peak, I saw the church and the caretakers (kids) who opened the church for me. And as I walk further, I saw a very lovely view of Iloilo and Guimaras. And just before I went emo on a corner Kuya Gerald grabbed me and led me to a huge white cross a few meters away from the church. It's huge and I attempted to climb it but I didn't get to the top. Kuya went on that this place can be jampacked during Holy Week. 

Going back to where we left the tricycle (and my mom) we thought that my mom would probably be chatting with the whole community. And we guessed right (and insufficient), she treated the auntie, her kids and some of the neighbors' kids with banana cue. She's that sweet and timid is not in her vocab.  

nilibre lahat kasi birthday ko daw
masarap talaga ang saging nila
And as we were about to go to our next destination, I asked Kuya if he could bring us to his house to meet his family. He smiled and asked me if I was serious. And so we went to visit his house and finally meet his family. He has 3 kids and we got to meet 2 of them, Cherish and Avagail. We also met is wife, Mary Jane, who is infanticipating on their 4th child at that time. I played with the two kids while my mom chatted with everybody - again. We then went on and bid our goodbyes while Avagail was crying for her dad will be leaving again.

Kuya Gerald and his family's humble abode
Avagail - god daughter of Ada and Mica :)
Naglalaba pa kahit ka-buwanan na... 

Next stop was the Smallest Plaza. And as if Kuya Gerald was a psychic, he asked if we want to go to Neptune Pittman's Garden Resort (check rates). My mom got giddy when she heard the word "garden". Kuya sensed beforehand that my mom is a garden freak. We paid an entrance fee of 50 pesos and immediately greeted by one of the caretakers. 

The Garden Resort is the brainchild of Mrs. Neptune Pittman (a botanist) with the help of her husband Charles. They offer room accommodations and use of their pavilion for special occasions. And what's interesting are the unique breed of flora in the garden (that's according to my mom for I know only a few species). 

It was drizzling at that time but that didn't stop my mom to roam around the garden like a child in a toy store. She shrieked everytime she sees something different while telling me how rare those things (plants) are. I need to approve even though I know nothing about it. Excitement needs audience. I was happy to see my mom happy. That was hands down her favorite part of the trip.

she was really happy and inggit at the same time

dito lang ako natuwa talaga
hindi siya masiyadong happy
Next was the Holy Family Hills. Again, it's a site where showcases the stations of the cross but in life size forms. Me and my mom loved the place. It was so serene. Perfect for contemplating.

And as the suns sets, we went to Raymen Beach Resort (check rates) to check out if there's still a room for me and my mom. We got an Airconditioned Room for 2 persons with T.V. and ensuite bathroom for 1,450 pesos. We checked out the room and hurriedly went to the restaurant for my "birthday dinner". 

The three of us feasted on green mango salad / ensalada (70 pesos), grilled pork (150 pesos), fish sinigang (130 pesos), pansit Bam-E (85 pesos), Ripe mangoes (which we bought from the market), and mango shake (35 pesos). We spent 600 pesos for everything which was very reasonable. Everything was yummy. And we finished everything. It was really a happy birthday after all. And just because my mom was born and raised in Zambales she was, of course, biased with the "Best mangoes in the Philippines" title. We all knew where the award went. 

the 1,450 pesos room
Guimaras mangoes
happy na birthday na busog pa...
We were so tired that we slept right away after dinner considering the videoke belters outside the resort. We allotted the next day for island hopping (which will be featured on a separate post) and right after we checked out from the resort Kuya Gerald led us to another round of countryside tour. 

We went to Camp Alfredo, the Mango Plantation, the Trappist Monastery (visited Bro.Peter) and the Pitstop to try the Mango pizza which we had for 160 pesos (double). At first I find it weird but when we got to taste it, the sweetness of the mangoes complimented with the cheese, cashew nuts and the bell pepper. I also tried it with ketchup and it tasted nice as well. My mom loved it and even irking me to make one at home. 

After that Kuya Gerald brought us to the port on our boat ride back to Iloilo. He gave us some mangoes and some seedling of gumamela for my mom. He also insisted to join us on the boat so he can help us with our stuff but I declined. We bid our goodbyes with, of course, a promise to be back again. 

I'm back Bro. Peter

masarap ito infernes
Me and my mom. Alone. For nine months it was only me and my mom and her womb. And after 29 years it feels so great to be alone with my mom on my birthday. I know it was my birthday but this trip felt that it wasn't - but not in a bad way. It is often that you would regard yourself as "special" or the "boss" on your birthday. In the first place it should be right? But being with my mom and Kuya Gerald felt the opposite. I felt that that my birthday is not all about me but the people around me. Me and my mom treat each other like sisters. We bond, we shop together, we quarrel, we argue and we argue more. Seeing her excited and extremely happy makes me joyful and thankful to have her in my life. Best birthday gift this year - her being extremely happy on my birthday. 

And Kuya Gerald. Seeing him and his family made me realize that friendship goes beyond boundaries. That it's not just another success story. It is a story of goodness, hardwork and patience. He really deserves everything he is experiencing right now. Salamat sa lahat Kuya Gerald. 

Kuya Gerald
(+63) 908.474.8122


  1. The dried fish, the mangoes and that quaint place! I'm a little jealous.

  2. Belated Happy Birthday po Ma'am! Such a wonderful celebration with ur Mom, :)

  3. mukhang mabait tour guide niyo ha. sana yan pala kinuha ko last year. =) belated happy birthday!

  4. Now I miss Guimaras. :( Our tour guide, Kuya Mai, was very nice too. :) More than just the view, I think it's the hospitality that makes me want to return to Guimaras. :)

    1. oh yes michy. people there are very nice. ang sarap balik-balikan :)

  5. wow..thanks sa info na toh..malaki tulong nito sa trip ko together with my wife...^_^

    btw...belated happy birthday mam...^_^

  6. Belated happy birthday!
    We're going to Guimaras this Thursday and will try to contact Kuya Gerald. :) I hope he can accommodate us too. Btw, how much was the countryside tour by Kuya Gerald?

    1. hi faith! the standard tricycle rate (max.3 persons) is 1,200-1,500 depending on the spots to cover. Kuya Gerald also has multicabs and jeepney for large groups. :)

  7. Belated Happy Birthday! Parang magkapatid lang kayo ng Mom mo.

  8. This post just made me realize that I have to go back to this place.

  9. Belated happy birthday Carla! Ang mura ng pamasahe to Guimaras. Naglalaway ako sa ensalada at Sweet mangoes sa post mo.

  10. Belated happy birthday/new year/Valentine's, Miss Carla!

  11. Oi birthday mo pala ma'am! Belated :)
    Bukod sa raymen, trappist lang napuntahan ko sa lahat ng yan haha

    1. salamt christian! uy! parang magkasama lang talaga tayo kagabi ah? nanaginip ba ko na uminom tayo? haha

  12. huwaaaw daing ang authentic guimaras hilaw at hinog na mangga! =)

    1. hi pol! masarap talaga ang mangga... lalo na sa zambales... hahaha

    2. ensalada! wooot wooow! =) talagang sa pagkain lang ako nagfocus sa page na to lol =)

      maiba naman love the colors in your photos! cozy ng feel sana magawa ko rin yan! need to learn how to make magic with my camera =)

  13. WAAAAHHHH ang mga bagets na makukulit haha :D namiss ko tuloy sila. I need to go back!

    Pinaka-thoughtful na guide na talaga si kuya Cherald. Aliw ako kasi yung binyag ni Ava nataon sa birthday ko =)) for sure magiging makulit talaga yan forever.

    Gusto ko bumalik. Day trip lang ako nung September tapos umulan pa at soloista ang peg. Gusto ko magstay ulit sa Raymen kahit overnight lang hehe. Hay, iplano ko na ang aking major comeback ulit =))

    1. ako din plano ko bumalik. eh kung sabay-sabay kaya tayo nila ada para isang malaking party ito! hahaha

      i love kuya cherald. iba talaga siya. sakto sa mga birthday natin ang mga pagkakataon. hehe

  14. Ang laki na ni Ava pero di ko pa siya nabibisita!! HAHA! Kelangan ng bonggang regalo HAHA! Belated Happy Birthday mam Carla!

    1. thanks ada! ang laki na niya teh! oh eh di ba go ka dun ngayong buwan? :) hi mo ko sa kanilang lahat!

  15. Bongga talaga yang si Kuya Gerald. Nangangamusta pa sa Facebook! Hehe. Katuwa!

    Kamiss yung biscocho! Haha! Ayan Ate, natikman mo na yung Mango Pizza. =)

    1. korek chingks! nangangamusta pa rin si kuya lagi. kakatuwa. at ansarap ng mango pizza infernes ha! :)

  16. hi! ano po ang fb account ni kuya cherald?.. para mainform ko sya sa tour namin this june. nasa ibang bansa pa ako ngayon eh so di ko pa sya matext2x para makabook sa kanya:) thanks for the info ha! ito ang basehan ko sa tour namin dun eheheh! belated happy birthday!

    1. hi grace! eto fb ni kuya cherald! -

      thanks grace! :)

  17. Oh yes, I missed the Biscocho Haus. Pasalubong lagi ng friend ko from Ilo-ilo. And those mangoes, dang! *drools*

    1. hi kat! favorite din ng nanay ko ang biscocho. sarap mag food food trip sa iloilo talaga..

  18. Did I just cry after reading this post? No joke! You're such a sweet daughter, ma'am! ☺️ So happy I bumped into your blog! Can't wait to visit Guimaras soon! 😃


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