Iloilo '10 - Loving Iloilo and Ilonggo Pride

November 25, 2010 (Thursday) – Part I

My brain was not really working for my personal advantage from 2:30 a.m to 5 a.m. It was on blogging mode ever since the NAIA 3 unloading zone came into my view. Here are some major insights and improvements of the NAIA 3 Airport.


Flight to Iloilo
The flight to Iloilo took approximately 52 minutes via AirPhil Express. I got my AirPhil Express Manila-Iloilo roundtrip ticket for P1700. I was dozing off at 5:15 a.m. as soon as I boarded the plane. I woke up with a pain in both my ears because of the rapid pressure drop. The plane landed so suddenly without any warning (or maybe I was asleep).

Iloilo Airport
I went down the plane through the stairs as we do in most, if not all, domestic flights here in the Philippines. 


I walked as I took in the sight of the most impressive domestic airport I had ever been to in the Philippines so far. 


The Iloilo Airport looked like a mini version of NAIA 2 or 3 in Manila. 


By mini, I mean just a baggage claim area as soon as you step in but the building had a good signage, it was clean, it had white walls and a clean restroom plus the people, even the guards who checked the bags, knew the process and can speak good (and kind to locals and tourists) English.


Iloilo Transport System
The transport system outside was a bit tricky. There were vans and taxis available as soon as you step outside. 


A lot of them will offer their services as soon as you say where you are going. I wanted to go to Ong Bun Pension House by taxi at first but when a driver blurted out P350, I decided to go with the P50 van that will go to SM Iloilo where I will take a jeep to Ong Bun. One tip is to repeat over and over that you want the P50 ride and go towards the vans to the left when you go out. The van was not as dirty as I thought and it was actually quite comfortable (the aircon was even colder than the plane and the van looked well-kept). The driver was also accommodating. He filled the van with 10 people and we were on our way to our different locations in no time. I was the last one and I spent P100 to go to Ong Bun (no more fuss with my luggage and a comfortable ride was what I needed).

While on the way, I asked how I could get back to the airport. It was an easy jeep ride to City Proper (SM Traveller in SM City Iloilo / Manduriao) then ride the van again from there. I also learned that there were 2 SMs in Iloilo – SM City Iloilo/Manduriao (the biggest) and SM Delgado (which was nearer to Ong Bun). Robinson’s Place Iloilo was also near Ong Bun.

Ong Bun Pension House
I was not so happy that the clerk thought I had no reservation and made me wait from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. My laptop was also not catching the WIFI in the lobby the whole time. Most importantly, other guests were smoking openly in the area and I had nowhere to go. I was too tired to argue and went all the way to the 5th floor by stairs still partly in my sleep and hoping to get a good shut-eye. I ended up not doing that because I felt my stomach crumbling plus there was something in that P150 room that I didn’t find comfortable.

Loving Chicken Experience # 1
Tracing the Source - My Mang Inasal Story in Iloilo
I set out to find Mang Inasal’s first ever branch. I have resisted to go to the many Mang Inasal branches in Manila for a few months now ever since I booked that flight to Iloilo for the Visayas Blogging Summit. I wanted to experience the original Mang Inasal feel that took the Philippines by storm in a few years time (they rocked the boat again a few months ago when news came out that the JFC group bought the 300+ store Mang Inasal Franchise). Corny as I was, I wanted to see a piece of modern local history that proudly came from Iloilo. Edgar Sia, Mang Inasal’s founder, is one proud Ilonggo.


I also wanted to test myself to love chicken because my close friends and family know that I choose beef every time I order something. I will be faced with something I really do not like to eat – Chicken – and it’s something that made Mang Inasal famous. Read more about Me the Picky Eater by clicking this link.


Mang Inasal’s first branch is near the Robinson’s Place Carpark. It is not located inside the Main Mall. There is a big, big chicken beside it standing proud. The place is huge (I think around 50 tables), most of it is an open area (no airconditioning) and there was a lot of staff (just standing near the counters and watching you order and eat). 


The busy cashier didn’t entertain my touristy question much (I don’t know anything about chicken since I rarely eat it) so I dropped the conversation and just ordered the most basic meal. Someone told me once to order the simplest meal in a famous restaurant and if they do it right then they can do complicated meals too. In my ‘rejection’, I forgot to ask and order the one that was there on the menu ever since Mang Inasal started.


Well, I loved the Mang Inasal chicken for the original taste from the very first bite, especially the yellow oily stuff and the slightly sweet flavor. I quickly forgot about the heat and the hint of irritation because they wouldn’t allow me to go in the air-conditioned part of the restaurant due to an absurd “reservation” scheme (almost half of the room was unoccupied and this is the first time I heard of a by-reservation fast-food restaurant). Plus, no one answered my “How do you reserve?” question so I settled in the middle and observed while I ate.

With I was enjoying my chicken, it was way easier now to get over the frustration and take notice of the real eager service people of Mang Inasal (those going around delivering the orders and those holding unlimited rice buckets and passing by my table all the time). I had the impression that people from Iloilo, especially the youth, were very accommodating, courteous and “sweet”-mannered (in terms of language, I think it’s the accent, the tone of the voice and the way they talked when they are not so stressed like the cashier lady and the lady who was “guarding” the air-conditioned room).


My Mang Inasal simple Sulit Meal with the tangy soup and unlimited rice experience was paired with a short but nice conversation with the unlimited rice Mang Inasal servers. I asked about the preference of condiments in front of me and found out that the Mang Inasal chicken tasted good with just soy sauce and chicken oil (yes, the good yellow oily stuff, I had a good laugh about this in my mind, it’s the first time I had heard about “chicken oil”) just as the young server said. The vinegar and the calamansi didn’t seem like a fit for me. I preferred the plain original taste of the chicken though while the conversation with the server really did make an impression of a good alternative. Ilonggo’s do know their chicken.


I confess that while I was recalling this story, I was craving for another round of Mang Inasal chicken. This was just the start of my loving chicken experiences in Iloilo. I am debunking the belief that I hate chicken. I just have a picky palette when it comes to good food.