So far, the tallest structure in Western Visayas is the 21-storey Injap Tower Hotel located in front of the biggest mall in the city at Diversion Road, Iloilo City. Every Ilonggo knows that the tower is co-owned by Edgar “Injap” Sia II of Double Dragon Properties. He founded Mang Inasal in this city until it expanded into one of the country’s most famous fastfood chains with more than 300 branches nationwide.
His success did not only open doors for the expansion of his businesses in the hotel industry but as well as real estate. It also started the influx of public and private developments in Iloilo City. Some of the projects that he initiated were the People’s Hotel and the first condo in the city- the People’s Condominium in San Rafael, Mandurriao.
After the 21-storey condotel tower opened with a bang, its management invited several bloggers from all over the country to experience staying at this newest landmark and the place itself- Iloilo, the City of Love.
When I arrived at the tower for our “getting to know you” session, almost everyone was there and of course, the hotel management with some of their staff. Horizon cafe served some refreshing drinks as we were warmly welcomed. Most of us actually knew each other but we were happy to have new friends. Aboard the hotel’s coaster, we then went to the first branch of Mang Inasal at Robinson’s Place Iloilo for lunch. It was just renovated and air-conditioning units were installed.
Heritage Houses Tour:
When the province used to export sugar abroad from the late 1800’s up to the early 1900’s, rich families who owned vast plantations built houses and mansions. We passed by the main road that leads to Jaro district from the City Proper that is called the E. Lopez st. or the Millionaire’s Row. Among the houses that we saw during our running tour were the Lopez Boathouse, the Pink Lopez Mansion, Sanson-Montinola, Jaen and Joaquin Ledesma Mansion. We were supposed to enter the Nelly’s Garden or the most iconic mansions built by the Lopezes but they were preparing it for an event. The coaster just stopped for a while as we took photos.
We then went to Lizares Mansion or now known as the Angelicum School. Though it’s a popular destination during Christmas when all of the mansion’s facade is decorated with lights, it’s still a memorable experience because it’s my first time to enter the mansion. I didn’t know that the central part upon entering was converted into a chapel. It is said that the Lizares ladies were so refined that they can never go down from their bedrooms if they didn’t looked and dressed like royals.The elaborate and grandiose design of this landmark still stood up despite of its horrible past when it was used as a garrison and torture chamber by the Japanese in the Second World War. Today, priests who run the school could also sense something different from time to time.
Our next destination was Casa Mariquit
. Named after the wife of former Vice President Fernando Lopez Sr., Mariquit Javellana, this house is more than 2 centuries old. The lower part was used as a bank and a giant vault can still be seen in the basement. But because the lower part is full of dust, no one is allowed to see it anymore. Only the entrance from staircase is left open. When we got up to the second floor, there were two tables that were used by the former public servant during his office. Gifts, personal belongings, old photographs, paintings and other memorabilia are still stored in this house.
Our next destination was the Iloilo City Community College. This is the first project of Mr. Sia for the City and people of Iloilo most especially the less fortunate. Mr. Joel Adrias toured us around the campus and we were delighted to see a Mang Inasal room inside. But more importantly, how this institution changes the lives of deserving Ilonggos is really admirable.
Madge cafe is one of Iloilo City’s famous tourist spot that is located in the heart of La Paz Market. More famously known for the La Paz Batchoy, this district is also home to Madge which has been serving native coffee for more than 70 years. Political figures and people from all walks of life have been to this place not only for the coffee but because of the ambiance also.