Photo by Patricia Tan

Iloilo City Guide: Jaro

By Patricia Tan

Jaro is one of the largest districts in Iloilo City. In the past few years, it has been experiencing rapid development, like the sudden rise of large-scale malls mirroring what is also happening in the rest of the province.

With that in mind, it is important to remember how rich Jaro is in terms of its history and culture. With that said, here are five things you could do there to get that blast-in-the-Jaro-past experience.

pandesal ni pa-a - project iloilo
Photo by Patricia Tan

1. Enjoy hot pandesal for breakfast

The pandesal is synonymous with the traditional Filipino breakfast. And nothing says “pandesal” like Panaderia de Paa. The historic bakery, which was in business since 1896, has been baking their bread in a firewood-fuelled brick oven, which may be the secret to their crunchy-on-the-outside-while-soft-on-the-inside pandesal. They make a fresh batch every day, so be sure to get your fix early in the morning while they’re still hot.

jaro cathderal interior - project iloilo
Photo by Patricia Tan

2. Attend mass at the Jaro Cathedral

The Jaro Cathedral (known then as the ‘Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary’) was originally built in 1874. Its original edifice was ruined by a massive earthquake in 1948, but was restored to its splendor by 1956, where its “baroque” design still remains untouched.

Masses are celebrated every day at the Cathedral in either Hiligaynon or English. Its patron saint, the Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria or Lady of the Candles, has a legend that is fondly retold time and again by older Jareños.

wawa heritage restaurant - project iloilo
Photo by Patricia Tan

3. Have lunch at a heritage restaurant

The Wawa Heritage Restaurant is a small but homey establishment at the heart of Jaro. Once you enter the place, you’ll be greeted with an eclectic collection of furniture and items owned by world-renowned fashion designer, P.J. Arañador, whose personal touch gives Wawa a unique visual experience.

Their menu, on the other hand, is full of hearty, home-cooked Ilonggo dishes like binakol, which is their house specialty. Mr. Arañador advocates for “slow-cooked” food, so you should expect about a 20-minute for the order. I can tell you that it is still well worth it because the food is absolutely delicious.

casa gamboa - project iloilo
Photo by Patricia Tan

4. Enjoy a cup of coffee

Tinukib is a heritage house that also doubles as a coffee shop and museum. The house, otherwise known as Casa Gamboa, was where the replica of the first Philippine Flag was sewn by Patrocinio Gamboa, an Ilongga revolutionary.

The museum on the second floor is where you can learn about the history of the house and its past occupants. Their ground floor, on the other hand, is composed of a pasalubong center and a café that also sells a specialty coffee brand called Kape Miro, which is supposedly produced and benefited from by a local Ati community in Barotac Viejo. Tinukib is a definite must-visit for anyone, whether you’re going in as a history buff, a passing tourist, or a coffee junkie.

casa mariquit interior - project iloilo
Photo by Patricia Tan

5. Visit an ancestral home

Your experience in Jaro wouldn’t be complete without visiting an old house with a ton of fascinating stories. Casa Mariquit, built around 200 years ago during the Spanish colonization, is said to be the oldest heritage house in Iloilo. According to the caretaker, it was built by Don Julio Javellana for his great great granddaughter, Maria Salvacion Javellana, who was nicknamed “Mariquit”.

The house’s interior is filled with the owners’ keepsakes like old clocks and paintings. The timeless pieces and well-kept infrastructure gives visitors an idea of how a typical ilustrado might have lived back then.

Do you have any other great spots in Jaro that you would like to share? Please do so in the comments section below!

Patricia Tan is a graduate of Public Health from the University of the Philippines Visayas and is a vlogger at Pitter Patter Around. She is also a photography enthusiast who loves to travel and try out new things.