After eating at Tatoy's, we crossed the street to explore Villa Beach. The sea breeze was so refreshing.
It was a quiet afternoon the time we were there, but we were told Villa Beach comes alive during the Paraw Ragatta Festival when seafarers race among themselves on colorful sailboats called "paraws". Held every 3rd Sunday of February, the beautiful "paraws" race in the straits between Guimaras Island and the City of Iloilo. This is one festival that I'd like to witness in the future.
Villa Beach has rows of seaside eateries along the road and beach...hmm, more food trip possibilities in the future!
Although the structure of Sto. Nino de Arevalo Parish is not as amazingly beautiful as the other Hispanic churches in Iloilo, it is worth your time going there. Firstly (as previously mentioned in a separate travel tip), you will find there the 3rd oldest original image of the Santo Nino. Secondly, you will feel an unexplainable peace while inside the church. It's simplicity renders less distractions to praying devotees, and the open side aisles with grills allow the free flow of air, thus making it conducive for reflections and meditative prayers.
Locals say that from a bird's eye view, the church has the shape of a cross.
At the Arevalo Church a.k.a. Sto. Nino de Arevalo Church, the 3rd oldest original Sto. Nino image in the Philippines dating back to 1581 is enshrined. The Sto. Nino de Arevalo was brought in by Spanish settlers, but it is not as popular as the ones in Cebu and Tondo, Manila. I was told that there are only three original images of the Holy Child Jesus (Sto. Nino) in the whole country. The oldest image was found in Cebu, discovered by Legazpi in 1565; the 2nd one in Tondo Church was found in 1572; and the 3rd one in Arevalo.
When I learned about the presence of the 3rd oldest image of Sto. Nino in Arevalo, I wondered why it wasn't given much tribute at the Dinagyang Festival ceremonies...but I'm happy to know that by next year, the Sto. Niño in Arevalo Church will be given more focus in the 2012 Dinagyang Festival as an important religious and historical icon. The image will be brought from the Arevalo church to San Jose Church in the City Proper, and will stay there for a few days until the Sto. Niño de Cebu's arrival.
Honorato (Tatoy) Tiburan Espinosa started his eatery in the 1970’s with a simple nipa shack that had only 3 tables. As a fisherman, Honorato capitalized on his knowledge of the sea to get only the best and freshest seafoods. Although standing only in a corner across the Villa Beach, Tatoy’s attracted diners who loved seafoods. Tatoy's also offers native litsong manok, which has also become a favorite of their customers.
The restaurant has grown and now has several cottages facing the beach aside from its main dining hall. The dining hall is nothing fancy, in fact has gray sand for its flooring. Diners have the option to eat here where there are long bamboo tables and benches, or in the airconditioned rooms. We opted to eat at the non-aircon restaurant because I wanted to observe the customer traffic. I was impressed by the number of customers from all walks of life that came that day. Many also came to order chicken for take-out.
Favorite Dish: Steamed Prawns, "Kinilaw na Tanigue"
For areas in Arevalo not within the route of the jeepneys, you may ride the tricycles or "trisikads" (Pedicabs). Tricycles can bring you to destinations within the district except the national highway because of vehicle restrictions and speed limits. "Trisikads" are your best choice if you are going within the subdivisions or small (interior) streets.
While we were at Tatoy's Manokan, a man peeping inside caught my attention. I wondered what he was carrying dangling on both ends of a bamboo stick. It was a cluster of cut bamboo stems covered by dried banana leaves. Then, I saw a woman approach the peddler; she bought some and eagerly opened one. I learned that it was a popular Ilonggo sweet delicacy called "pulot". In our province, "pulot" is the vernacular for "honey". Intrigued, I also bought one and immediately opened it to find out what it looked like. It wasn't honey, but a sweet concoction made of coconut cream and muscovado or "panocha".
Ilonggos are known to have "sweet tooth" so it is common to see ambulant peddlers of "pulot", a traditional sweet delicacy being sold at the seaside restaurants.