I took a break from soloing and dragged my folks with me on a 9-day journey in and around Panay. To kick-off our Panay Island escapade, we sought for Roxas City, the capital of Capiz, as our first stop. We’ve spent 3D/2N in Exploring Places in Roxas City on DIY. Roxas City is an emerging economic city, 460 kilometers southeast of Manila. Also known as the Seafood Capital of the Philippines, it supplies the nation with most of the freshest seafood.
We took the long road going to Roxas City and it was already 3:30 PM when we arrived. We immediately checked-in at Urban Manor Hotel – Annex. By 4:15 PM, after settling in, we began on our journey to see the sights of Roxas City. With the hotel security’s assistance, we hailed a tricycle and asked the driver to take us to Baybay Beach.
Baybay Beach is one of the must-visit spots in Roxas City located just 3 kilometers from the city proper. It has a 7-kilometer gray fine sand coastline where most locals and tourists alike go to spend their weekend. Aside from swimming and snorkeling, food tripping is one of the best things to do in the area with the wide selection of local restaurants lined along the beachfront.
From the hotel to the beach was less than a 10-minute tricycle ride. When we’ve reached the beach we went straight to the nearest restaurant to have an early dinner and landed at El Maria’s Palabok House and Resto. It was a ‘Paluto’ style restaurant, so we made our selection from their raw meat and seafood items and told them how we want it to be cooked.
‘Paluto’ style – you get to choose the meat/fish/seafood and tell them how you want it to be cooked i.e. steamed, grilled, fried, etc.
I’ve been to different restaurants with the same concept, so my expectations were high. However, as it turned out, it wasn’t what I was really hoping for. It was not bad but the food was not cooked ala minute like how it should be, I had a feeling that it was already pre-cooked and was just reheated. Nevertheless, we managed to finish all the food (maybe because we were just too hungry). It was already too late when I remembered about People’s Park Seafood Court which was located on the right side of the beach unfortunately, we went to the opposite side. Well, next time I’ll try other restaurants on both sides.
After eating, walking along the beach and observing what the locals along the beach were usually up to on Monday afternoon, we called it a day and went back to the hotel to rest.
We started around 8AM as our itinerary was packed on the second day. The plan was to stop at as many landmarks as we can to maximize our stay in Roxas City. First up was the Shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We signaled a tricycle and asked the driver to bring us to the location, he said that he was just new to the city but he knew the way to the shrine.
After a few minutes on the road, guess what? We got lost and ended up in one of the pilgrimage sites in Roxas City but the place was empty because it was a weekday. We circled back but we still didn’t get on the right road and found ourselves in the middle of nowhere, so we told the driver to bring us to Pueblo de Panay terminal instead since we haven’t eaten breakfast yet. We’ve found a ‘carinderia’ at the back end of the terminal and there we filled our growling tummies.
While having breakfast, we were chatting with the store owner and have asked her for directions to the shrine. She had gone to the shrine herself and she said that the entrance was just along the main road but we need to look for a ‘Barako’ tricycle (huge type with more power) because it would be challenging for small vehicles to go all the way up the hill with 4 passengers. After a hefty breakfast, we’ve made our second attempt to get to the shrine.
We were already in a public transport terminal so we walked up to where the tricycles were and asked for someone who can take us to the shrine then on a city tour and we’ve found Kuya Raymond to do it for us. Before we left, he informed us upfront that he can only carry two persons in his tricycle up the hill, the other two would need to walk.
Since, we wanted to visit the shrine so bad, we agreed to what he suggested and off we went.
From the terminal, it took us less than 10 minutes to get to the entrance of the shrine just along the main road. The road going up was jagged but our driver, Kuya Raymond, managed to get all four of us through the first vertical slope. After that, he said that he can only carry two passengers all the way up and the other two would have to walk so, my father and I did, but Kuya Raymond came back for us 5 minutes later.
Shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
From the top of the hill was a picturesque view of Pueblo de Panay, there were rice fields on one side and fish pens on the other. On it also rests the majestic 132 feet (40 meters) statue of Jesus Christ with verdant hills as its backdrop. The statue was the masterpiece of artist John A. Alaban and together with a seven-man core team led by foreman Jose Clarito its construction began in late 2011 and was finished by January 5th 2015.
It is said to be the tallest of its kind in the Philippines. A chapel was also built at the base of the statue where they hold regular masses and healing sessions for parishioners. My mom and tita took advantage of our visit to the Shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and underwent a healing pray over. After being blessed and re-energized, we moved on to the next location on our Roxas City tour.
Ang Panublion – The Roxas City Museum
When we emerged at the busy streets of Roxas, we came to stop next at The Roxas City Museum known to the people of the city as Ang Panublion, a Hiligaynon (local dialect) word for heritage. As of 1993, the museum keeps mementos of the rich and precious history of how Roxas City and Capiz came to be. But during the olden days, it has served as a water tank supplying water to the town during the dry months. Roxas City Museum is FREE to the public, they do accept donations for the upkeep but not compulsory.
Location: Hughes Street, Roxas City, Capiz – Contact: (036) 522-88-57
|The Roxas City Museum – Hours of Operation|
|Monday – Friday||9:00 AM – 6:00 PM||
|Saturday||9:00 AM – 5:00 PM|
|*Viewing outside of regular museum hours may be arranged with the staff|
Roxas City Bandstand
Another iconic landmark just a few walks from the museum is the Roxas City Bandstand. Built in the 1920’s by Jose S. Roldan, the Roxas City Bandstand had been the favored venue for a number of political rallies, public speeches and celebrations over the years. Originally, the gazebo was an earthquake proof structure that can be transported to different places around town. However, it has now been fixed to its present location near the Panay River, overlooking the Capiz Bridge.
Roxas City Bridge & Panay River
It was once known as the Old Capiz Bridge. The bridge was built in 1910, linking the major roads of Roxas City passing over the historic Panay River. Legends have it that Panay River was once home to mystical creatures like birds and monkeys in various hues and even mermaids swimming under the boats of Spanish priests when they were evangelizing the nearby rural community. These two distinguished landmarks near the provincial capitol have all seen how the municipality of Capiz transformed into the now Roxas City.
Roxas City Fountain
Located right at the city center serving as a rotunda, the fountain is also considered as the city’s ground zero, where all other places distances are measured from here. The fountain was originally built in 1910 but had undergone several renovations in the last 10 years. It is best to see the fountain during the night time as it illuminates and gives life to the city with the its dancing lights.
Immaculate Conception Metropolitan Cathedral
The Immaculate Conception Metropolitan Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in Panay Island. It was built before 1698, unfortunately it was destroyed by a typhoon that hit the city. In 1728, reconstruction commenced and was finally finished in 1877. The cathedral is right across the bandstand fronting the city fountain, the capitol, the bridge and Panay River.
It was 12:30 PM, just about lunch time when we finished our city tour. We were already starving with all the walking and sight-seeing that we did so we went looking for Spanggo Café and Pasalubong Center to have lunch. Our driver didn’t know where it is and I forgot to check the address too so we asked some locals.
Its name is a portmanteau of Spanish and Ilonggo, they sell pastries and other snacks as Pasalubong plus they also have a restaurant that serves Spanish and Ilonggo cuisines. As much as I wanted to try out their Paella as most reviews say it is really good, we opted for Filipino classics instead because the Paella will take almost an hour to be ready and we were already hungry. Just before we left, we bought a box of their famous divine-tasting Buko Pie. Mmmmmm…Yummy!
Contact # : +63 36 522 8848 / +63 036 522 8848 / +63 919 904 4078 / +63 939 230 3958
Panay Church – Sta. Monica Parish Church
We’ve reached our next and last stop for the day after about a 30-minute drive from Roxas City, the magnificent Panay Church also known as Sta. Monica Parish Church. Although it is already located in the municipality of Panay, visiting this national historical landmark has always been included in the must-see places list whenever in Roxas City. The remarkable parish was built in 1884 of coral stones with walls measuring up to 3 meters thick.
What also attracts tourists to the century-old church is the ‘Dako nga Lingganay’ (Big Bell). The bell, regarded as the Biggest Catholic Church Bell in Asia, was made by Don Juan Reina (a dentist) in 1878 using 70 sacks of coins that were donated by the town’s people. It measures 7 feet in diameter, 5 feet high and weighs a staggering 10,400 kilos (10 metric tons). Be informed that you need to go up a 63 steps ladder to the bell tower and a guided tour by one of the church staff is required. ‘Dako nga Lingganay’ is still being sounded up to now together with the other smaller bells during masses, special occasions or if there are any calamities.
We checked out early on our last day and went straight to Pueblo de Panay Transport Terminal. We had breakfast at the same carinderia that we ate at the previous day and then rode a van bound for Estancia Port in Iloilo. Can you guess where we went next?
Other Places to Visit in Roxas City
Cadimahan River Tour
River tour with lunch, advance notice is recommended. Contact # +63 910 203 3229 / +63 927 286 5835
Café Terraza – Restaurant on Top of the hill
Enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner while seeing the scenic vista of Roxas City and Capiz.
Contact # +63 917 312 1498 / +63 939 927 1447
President Roxas Ancestral House
A few kilometers away from Capiz Provincial Capitol, at the corner streets of Rizal and Zamora is the birthplace of the first Philippine Republic President.
How to Get to Roxas City
From Manila by Air
Both Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines have flights bound for Roxas daily. The plane ride is approximately 40-45 minutes. If you cannot get any direct flights, you can also get into Roxas via Caticlan (Boracay Airport) or Kalibo, then ride a van to Roxas City. Like what we did. See instructions below.
From Caticlan – Kalibo – Roxas by Land (Total of 4 hours, waiting time included)
Caticlan – Kalibo
Take a van going to Kalibo, the terminal is right in front of Caticlan Jetty Port, last trip is at 7PM. The fare is PHP 120, tell the driver that you are going to Roxas City so they can drop you off in front of City Mall where vans bound for Roxas are parked. There are also Ceres Buses that go the same route and leaves every 30 minutes, fare is PHP 140. Private van to Kalibo costs PHP 1,300. Follow the route from Kalibo to Roxas below. Travel time from Caticlan to Kalibo is 1 hour and 30 minutes (includes waiting time).
Kalibo – Roxas
From Kalibo, take a van bound for Roxas, the terminal is in front of City Mall. The fare is PHP 150, the drop off point is at Pueblo de Panay Transport Terminal. Travel time is 2 hours and 30 minutes (includes waiting time).
From Batangas by Sea
From Batangas Port, 2GO Travel goes to Roxas City via Culasi Port, Usually departs at 10:00 PM and arrives at 12:00 NN the following day (14 hours). Visit 2GO Travel website for prices and schedules.
Where to stay
Roxas President’s inn
Corner of Rizal and Lopez Jaena Streets, Roxas City, Capiz
Immaculate Heart of Mary Ave, Pueblo de Panay
Urban Manor Hotel
Sacred Heart of Jesus Avenue, Lawa-an, Lawaan, Roxas City, Capiz
Urban Manor Hotel – Annex
3/F Pag-ibig Fund Building, Sacred Heart of Jesus Avenue, Lawa-an, Lawaan, Roxas City, Capiz
Tricycle Tour Guide
Our guide was Kuya Raymond, his contact number is +63 910 293 9577. He has excellent people skills, knows the roads very well and even gave some trivia about the places that we visited. Best of all, he speaks Tagalog. Most local drivers we encountered can understand English and Tagalog but they answer back in their native tongue, Hiligaynon, which was quite a challenge.
*Budget for 4 persons – all in Philippine Peso
|Itinerary + Expenses|
|Time||Description||Total Expenses||Per Person|
|3:30 PM||Late arrival to Roxas City||120 – Caticlan – Kalibo
150 – Kalibo – Roxas City
*on a passenger van
200 (PHP 50) Key Card Deposit – Refundable
|4:15 PM||Baybay Beach – Late Lunch||80 – Tricycle to Baybay Beach
1082 – Food
|6:30 PM||Back to Hotel||80 – Tricycle to Hotel||20|
|8:00 AM||Shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – 1st Attempt – Failed||PHP 100 (PHP 25 each)||25|
|9:00AM||Breakfast at carinderia in Pueblo de Panay Terminal||PHP 240 (PHP 60 each)||60|
|9:45 AM – 11:20 AM||Shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – 2nd Attempt – Success!||
800 – Tricycle City Tour + Sta. Monica Church
|11:30 AM||Roxas City Museum – Ang Panublion|
|12:00 NN – 12:40 PM||Roxas City Bandstand, Fountain, Panay River, City Bridge|
|12:50 PM – 2:10 PM||Spanggo Café – Lunch||PHP 863 (PHP 215.75 each)
PHP 405 (Box of 9 mini pies) – PHP 45 / piece
|2:35 PM – 3:30 PM||Sta. Monica Parish Church|
|4:00 PM||Back to Hotel|
|8:00 AM||Check Out||-200 – Key Card Refund||-50|
|8:30 AM||Breakfast at carinderia in Pueblo de Panay Terminal||50 – Tricycle, Hotel to Terminal
240 – Food
|9:00 AM||Van to Estancia Port, Iloilo|
|Total Per Person (For a Group of 4)|
RT via *Kalibo / Caticlan
*was not able to get a promo airfare direct to Roxas on the travel dates preferred
|Total Expenses Roxas City||
Expenses can still go lower or higher depending on your preferred activities and dining options. Look out for seat sales to bring the airfare to an even lower price.
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How about you? Have you been to Roxas City? Which place did you like the most? Do you have other recommendations for places to visit in Roxas City? How was your experience? Share your thoughts.