Photo by Megan Cortez

The 5 Men You’ll Meet in Iloilo: A Foolproof Guide to Single Women (and Men, Too!)

By riza ornos

In a city of more than a million people, it is hard to find an authentic connection, especially if you are not a local. And in a city like Iloilo, one must know the right place and the right people to be able to find the perfect crowd to hang out with. If you are a single lady, finding the right lad with the same quirky interests as you is something as easy as finding the best mojito in town. (Because honestly, it is extremely difficult to find an authentic mojito in this city despite the many bars scattered around).

Iloilo, in addition to being known for its chillout lifestyle and delectable dishes, is also the home to many soft-spoken and family-oriented male species. These Ilonggos pride themselves as one of the country’s sought-after men, and all thanks to the women who brought them up as God-fearing, loyal, and honest individuals.

Iloilo may not be a big as Cebu, and not as industrialized and commercialized as Manila, but it has its own charm that pulls anyone with good fortune to experience the Ilonggo way of living. The men in this city are equipped with talents, skills, drive, and the right attitude to succeed in their own individual fields. They are the men of today who carry the name of this humble city with heads held high.

This is not putting Ilonggo men in a box because not one person belongs solely to a single category. This is only an attempt for you ladies to have a sneak peek of what most Ilonggo men are into these days as this city goes through major changes in lifestyle, traffic, industrialization, and many exciting things.

So here are the five types of Ilonggo men and where you will find them:

The Daydreamers

Let us call them the Daydreamers, for they are the visual artists, poets, painters, filmmakers, photographers, singers, and writers who dare dream with their eyes wide open. Now that the city has an exciting and thriving art scene, these modern Amorsolos and Brockas are putting a new creative vibe in the City of Love that manifests how talented Ilonggos can be. The daydreamer is the man behind the cameras in Ilonggo indie films, the artist who conceptualized the huge murals on abandoned walls around the city, the lover who wrote those hugot lines in so many spoken word events, the black T-shirt-wearing rocker and the leather-clad performer in underground concert rounds, and the shutterbug behind those thought-provoking pictures and art installations.

These Daydreamers usually hang out in Cinematheque Iloilo to watch the latest indie films and performances and in Gallery I for monthly art exhibits. You can find them walking along the streets of Calle Real and Gen. Luna documenting the everyday life of Ilonggos. The rest of them are scattered in many art spaces such as Et Nos, Space Between, Art Deck, Cinema Exmundo, U.P.V. and U.S.A. if they are not at their homes, busy making the finishing touches of their latest obra maestra.

The Kerouacs

Living the life in the fast lane, the Kerouacs feed on rushing waterfalls, steep mountains, difficult terrains, back-breaking routes, cloud 9 waves, the ocean floor, and the lust of being on the road. These adrenaline junkies are the wall/rock climbers, mountaineers, surfers, bikers, runners, divers, and backpackers. These types of men thrive outside of their money-making careers for they believe that what they do for a living does not define who they are. They are wise enough to understand that there is life beyond the four walls of an air-conditioned office. They are the ones who don’t just read the book, they live it.

Being on the mountain, road, and ocean taught them how to be sensitive to Mother Nature, as they take pride to be the breathing guardians of the islands. These men live to protect the environment—their playground, for they know that once we lose it, we can never have it back. They often live in the principle: Take Nothing But Pictures, Leave Nothing But Footprints. Single-use plastics, coral-harming sunblock, and smoke clad vehicles are no-nos. Biking to school and work, using a reusable handbag whenever they shop, and recycling and upcycling are a must for them.

You can spot these 21st-century Kerouacs at the Food Park, and while you are at it, do not forget to check their fingers because you can surely still find some traces of chalk there. They bond with friends in Adventure Central where they learn new and exciting routes, in Basecamp to plan for their next climb and where to dive for the upcoming long-weekend, and in 2B Bike as they shop for the next state of the art bike accessories while exchanging on-the-road mishaps and adventures.

The 5 Men You’ll Meet in Iloilo: A Foolproof Guide to Single Women (and Men, Too!) - Project Iloilo
Photo by Megan Cortez

The Suits

Imagine Harvey Spectre and Mike Ross strutting on the streets of Iloilo. Quite an exciting view, isn’t it? But instead of these two hot-shot lawyers from New York in the popular American TV series “Suits,” we also have the “Barong” and corporate-attire-wearing Ilonggos who are equally dashing as the two TV personalities.

The Suits are the lawyers, government employees (maybe during Mondays), teachers and corporates jocks who go to work all polished and fresh. You know, that kind of look that tells you that they smell good – the fresh-from-the-shower look, perhaps? You can spot them with their shiny shoes, gelled hair, black laptop bags and freshly ironed clothes.

These hardworking lads usually hang out in coffeeshops like Madge, Bo’s Cafe and Zatazza in Atria, Monkey Grounds in Diversion Road, Starbucks, and the Coffeebreak chains around the city.  As the most stimulating company to talk to over a cup of coffee or tea, The Suits knows how to carry a conversation—from the recent crisis in Marawi to the latest trending news in Google. Well-versed and easy-going, these coffee-shop dwellers are in their happy place as long as there’s freshly-brewed barako coffee in their hand, surrounded by good company.

The Boujees

They are bad, and they are Boujees. These type of Ilonggo men are the young and rich bachelors who are on the top of their game. They are the ones who own their own businesses, or the ones who hold top positions in the company. The Boujees are those who are not living with their families. They own a swanky flat, pay for cars in cash, and dress well. But do not be fooled by their appearances because most of them are not the show-off kind. These lads are so loaded they can have lunch in another city or jet set in another country just because they can.

You can spot them in newly-opened bars and restos probably because they are close friends with the owners. They are the regular customers of places like Cable Car, Dova, and Farm to Table in Megaworld, and Bourbon St. in Smallville. If you happen to be in a club, these guys are the ones who order a bottle of Jack Daniels or Black Label with hors d’oeuvres on the side just because they can afford it.

The Juans

The everyday Juans are the men who don’t mind working under sun, the ones who sweat their way to earn a living. These men are the bachelors who own the streets, the open fields, and the vastness of the ocean. They are the hands who build the new buildings in the city, the hands who make sure that all passengers are safe in both land and sea, and the hands who tirelessly tills the land so all Ilonggo families will have food on their table. Their jobs are not the most acclaimed, but they are the everyday heroes most of us would not even care to recognize and acknowledge.

Because they are the simple men with simple needs, these Juans are often spotted in videoke lounges around the city. Spreading the happy vibes around town, these men are not afraid to belt out “My Way” and “ Delilah” any time of the day. They reward themselves after a hard day’s work by hanging out with friends in convenience stores or BBQ stalls in front of the Freedom Grandstand, in Calle Real, or in Valeria St. while enjoying a few bottles of beer.

So there you go ladies – these are the five Ilonggo men that you will likely meet while wandering the streets of Iloilo. Just a gentle reminder though, do not be reckless with their hearts! They may appear tough on the outside but they are in fact hopeless romantics on the inside. Have fun in Iloilo!

Riza Ornos is the Queen Mermaid of EarthingPH and Visionary Nomad of Home of the Lost Soles. She is a true-blooded Ilongga who delights in writing her thoughts on while getting lost on the road.