Just when I thought that I knew Iligan like the back of my hand, I was surprised to find out how ignorant I am of this city all this time. You see, I was born here. I went to college here. But as I read Lisa’s (of Pinaytravelista.com) answers below, I just wanted to belt out that sappy song with annoyingly depressing lyrics: “I’ve been to (insert name of place here) but I’ve never been to me.”
I am very grateful indeed that Lisa agreed to this 7-Questions collaboration. She is based in Iligan and is the current president of Iligan Bloggers Society. Although we went to the same state university back in the day, I have never met her in person. We do have a lot of common friends, especially in our college debate days and in the local travel blogging scene.
Why go to Iligan?
[Bren] Iligan used to be just the other urban city in Northern Mindanao. But despite that and the many challenges it has faced in recent times, it is now a city that is holding pretty well on its own.
Where else can you find more than 20 waterfalls within the city proper, a lechon (roasted pig) that could give those Cebu purveyors a run for their money and that infamous painting where former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo posed ala Titanic-Kate Winslet (but with clothes of course)? Those, and many more surprises, are all in Iligan.
[Lisa] Maybe I am the hometown-waterfall-chaser-girl-next-door kinda gal, and we agree on the waterfalls in Iligan Bren! I like exploring Iligan City because it gives me both pride, and joy to having natural beauty in the form of waterfalls in my own hometown when I am not off to wandering to other places. Iligan City gives you a laid back feel, an exercise of your taste buds, and the sense adventure going off waterfall chasing. It’s cultural history is as rich as the festive colours of “Dumagats” (now Christians), Maranaos (Muslims) and Higaonons (lumads or natives) jointly paying homage to St. Michael, the city’s Patron Saint as they celebrate Diyandi Festival every September.
How do you get there and how do you get around the city?
[Lisa] The closest airport to Iligan City is via Laguindigan International Airport, and is also accessible via ferries directly bound for the city or at Cagayan de Oro, and/or Ozamis City. Iligan City is also accessible by land trip from Cagayan de Oro, Marawi City, Ozamis City, and hopefully directly travel from the province of Bukidnon once the highway linking both is finished.
The city proper is best to be explored by foot, but Public Utility Jeepneys, and taxi is available. Some areas is accessible via habal-habal, and tricycle. Tartanilya is still used as mode of transportation in the city as well, but is only allowed transport passengers on specific streets in the city.
[Bren] I have to agree with Lisa that it is best to just walk around the city. If you do not have time on your side, just ask the friendly locals for directions and tips.
What can you do there?
[Bren] Iligan is not called the City of Majestic Waterfalls for nothing, so waterfalls hopping should be in your top agenda. You have the majestic Maria Cristina, the Tinago Falls where that KC Concepcion-Sam Milby movie was shot and 20 or so others to choose from.
But if there’s only thing that you have to do in Iligan, it is this: swim at Dela Mar Resort‘s Olympic-sized pool. It is one of the many cold spring resorts at Timoga in Barangay Buru-un. You can pee without guilt in the pool because its cool waters flow endlessly from its source to the sea. (Hey, everyone has done that at some point in his or her life!) Kidding aside, it is to this day, my personal standard for swimming pools and spring resorts.
[Lisa] There are four accessible waterfalls I would recommend that one must see: Ma. Cristina, Tinago, Dodiongan, and Mimbalot Falls. Of the four, Ma. Cristina, Tinago, and Mimbalot Falls are geographically located near each other, and is called the Tourism Triangle of Iligan City.
If there’s this other thing that Iliganons are too proud of is the abundance of flowing water in its Spring Pools. It is not a wonder why you choose that one too, Bren. Timoga Spring Pools are ideal for barkadas, and family to enjoy the cool flowing water of these pools. You might also like to visit the City Hall, and also check out the Anahaw Amphitheater at the Buhanginan Hills preferably late in the afternoon for some sunset shot overlooking the city, and the Iligan Bay.
The best time to travel to Iligan City is during the month-long Diyandi Festival on September to witness the Pag-kanaug, street dancing, and other festivities happening in the city.
Where can you spend the night?
[Lisa] There are several types of accommodations your traveling company can check out Jasmine’s Pension Home, D’Morvie Suites, Rene’s Pension House can accommodate any type of travelers. For businessmen traveling to the city, you can consider Elena Tower Inn, Cheradel Suites, Plaza Alemania, or Corporate Inn.
[Bren] I’ve never stayed at a hotel in Iligan. 🙂 But thank you Lisa for the suggestions. My family would be staying in one during my cousin’s wedding soon.
What food stops should you not miss?
[Bren] Here are my recommendations:
- Try the halang-halang stalls at the wet market. It is a spicy soup of beef cuts and innards, a perfect hangover fix indeed.
- Did you know that the first Sunburst Fried Chicken Restaurant is in Iligan? It also has been around the city, long before those fastfood franchises set foot here. At less than Php 150.00, you can never go wrong with the Sunduo – 2 chicken pieces that come with chilled coleslaw, fries and rice.
- Satisfy your porcine cravings at Jaime’s Lechon Bayug. The lechon meat is already well-seasoned such that drowning it with Mang Tomas is absolutely not necessary.
[Lisa] If you’re into anything grilled, and seafood, then you must check out Jacko’s Kan-Anan — a must-try is the Crispy Squid. Any Iliganon has their own choice of lechon house, I prefer Jaime’s Lechon, and Edi’s Catering for their Spicy Lechon that I, personally, love over any other lechon I have tasted. For dessert try Tita Fannies Halo-Halo sa Buko, and/or Tedt’s Cupcakes. For coffee lovers, Brew’s Almighty for Durian Cappuccino, and Kopi Luwak for Civet coffee mix, and blends.
What are pasalubong options from Iligan?
[Lisa]There are top 5 pasalubong options one must take home for pasalubongs for the family, friend, and workmates.
- The Cheding Peanuts is popular among the greaseless peanuts in the market.
- Suka Pinakurat comes in packages that can be checked-in at the airport to increase our appetite in anything that needs sawsawan on the table.
- Piaya de Iligan has one of the subtly sweet tasting piayas I had that goes well with coffee.
- Kopi Luwak premium organic coffee beans is available at their coffee shop; and
- Keepsakes Iligan can provide you with non-perishable items, like keychains, and refrigerator magnets for those collectors, to remind you of your visit at Iligan.
[Bren] A loud hear-hear for Cheding’s Toasted Peanuts! They pair quite well with an ice-cold beer too.
Rate you Iligan City Experience.
[Bren] It is a 6/10 for me. I am ashamed to admit that although I’ve spent quite a number of years in Iligan, I haven’t explored the city as much as I wanted to. I’ve only been to 2 waterfalls! It’s about time indeed that I pay my birthplace another visit.
[Lisa] Currently, Iligan-based, I would rate Iligan City experience at a 7.5/10. Enough for people to want to visit it, to keep going back for more, and enough window for some improvements on transportation, safety, and tourist area development. I hope to see Iligan City at its highest travel destination potential, as it is gearing itself towards that direction.
So the next time you plan a Northern Mindanao adventure, include Iligan as one of your major pitstops. Head only to Timoga and Maria Cristina Falls if you are pressed for time. But if you like what you see along the way, by all means stay longer my friends. It’s a decision, that you will never, ever regret.
Photo Credits: The beautiful photo of the Maria Cristina Falls is courtesy of M. Plaza and the map of Iligan City was taken from Wikipedia.