Photo courtesy of Riza Ornos

8 Reasons NOT to Date An Ilongga

By riza ornos

8 Reasons Not to Date an Ilongga - Project Iloilo
“Summer Days” by Marge Chavez

Imagine a city where everyone knows each other.

Imagine a place where you can ride bicycles without getting run over by reckless drivers, where you can find the ocean’s bountiful harvest without digging a hole through your pocket, where century-old mansions that were standing since the peak of the sugar and textile industries can take you back in time. Imagine a small, but vibrant, haven for people who pride themselves for their sense of culture, language, and food.

Imagine a place. Imagine Iloilo.

Like any thriving city, Iloilo takes pride in her female population. Mothers nurtured this city through their breasts which, thanks to them, gave us a booming metropolis full of women with integrity, compassion, brilliance, and creativity. Women who—if given a chance—can command armies while wearing pink boots, braided hair and painted fingernails.

Now, imagine the Ilonggas.

They are beautiful women with striking accents that will make your heart melt like sorbetes under the Visayan sun. They are strong women and are, thus, not for faint-hearted men.

So, I caution you this—you should NOT date an Ilongga if you’re expecting the following:

1. Don’t date an Ilongga for she doesn’t like to be rushed.

Rather, she loves to take her time. It’s the same reason why she didn’t take a high-paying job in Manila for she values a life surrounded by friends and family. She would rather bask in the fading sunset of Esplanade than be stuck at traffic in EDSA. She’s laid-back, so she knows that life is too short to not enjoy every single moment of it like, say, watching an indie film in Cinematheque, running to support a cause, or feasting on seafood while facing the Arevalo beach.

2. Don’t date an Ilongga for she is a force of nature.

She is gentle, yet fearless; the girl in class who speaks softly with a sing-song tone but carries a big stick. She’s meek in how she speaks, but she means business. Inspirational women like Miriam Defensor-Santiago (senator), Magdalena Jalandoni (poet), Teresa Magbanua (writer), and Josette Biyo (teacher) embody their fierce and passionate nature, and they’re women who did not use their genders as excuses to shine brighter than the rest. They are genteel and charming, yet were also as magnificently sturdy as the fire tree in Heneral Luna Street during monsoon. These are genuine and big-hearted women, but they also dare to make a difference in this world.

3. Don’t date an Ilongga for she cares too much that it hurts.

She cares too much that she would rather bike from home to work to minimize the carbon footprint of the city. She cares too much that she vowed not to use any plastic products after finding out the effects of these single-use products on the ocean. She cares too much that she started using Virgin Coconut Oil as a silent protest to the big companies selling whitening lotions and sun blocks. When she cares, she cares deep.

4. Don’t date an Ilongga for she is not just any “simple” provincial girl.

Instead, she is made of salt water and mountain breeze that keeps her grounded when the currents of life get rough. She is a dandelion or huya-huya growing wildly in open spaces or, more stubbornly, a wildflower thriving through Plaza Libertad’s cracked, concrete streets. She’s toughened by time and molded by life’s struggles into a beautiful human being, and she has the tattoos, piercings, and scars to prove it.

5. Don’t date an Ilongga for she doesn’t “party hard”.

Of course, an Ilongga knows how to party, but she knows that having fun doesn’t mean taking your top off for fifteen seconds of fame. She can dance on table tops and sing her heart out but, in most cases, a simple night out with friends to talk about random stuff—life, love, the cosmos, whatnots—is preferable. She belongs in mountain tops, seashores, plazas, and farms where she can be herself without judgement. She’s more alive in the company of both old friends and new, rather than be in a roomful of nameless faces.

6. Don’t date an Ilongga for she doesn’t aspire to be trendy.

An Ilongga lives by comfort over style when it comes to fashion. Signature clothes, expensive jewelry, and fancy gadgets are the least of her worries. Why spend a month’s pay on them when there’s a nearby ukay-ukay? Her exceptional flair consists of a boho skirt that probably belonged to a hippie who wore it from Woodstock ’69 that she found in Jaro during market day. Trust me: she definitely knows how to be chic without overdoing it.

7. Don’t date an Ilongga for she will drive you crazy.

She is madness and chaos wrapped in a pretty box and topped with a little, red ribbon. She is crazy enough to try Pancit Molo while eating halo-halo at the same time. Crazy enough to pitch a tent in a wild beach in Guimaras and camp out. Crazy enough to sponsor “free hugs”. Crazy enough to be the wind behind you as you flap your wings to conquer the world. A woman like her will leave you wanting for more, as she empowers you not to settle for anything less than butterflies. She’s the type of girl who will challenge you out of your wits. With her, life is more colorful, exciting, and never boring.

8. Don’t date an Ilongga for a “weekend getaway”.

And nor is she your summer vacation. She is your hometown that you always want go back to, a sanctuary where you can feel safe. She is made of stars that jot your constellation; her entire existence is proof enough that there’s magic in this corner of the galaxy.

You can find her in every cramped alley of Calle Real, in every curve of the Iloilo River, in every dash of sili mixed with this town’s delectable cuisines.

While you read this, she is in every gasp and sigh you make.

Consider yourself fortunate if you had the chance to find the way to her softer world, for she’s no ordinary woman. She is an Ilongga.

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.