Let's Travel and Discover the Secrets of ILOILO

WELCOME to Iloilo, A Province that dances with the rhythm of the past and the promise of the future. HALA BIRA!!!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Around the World

This post is quite late for Christmas but when you're in the Philippines , Christmas season is longer than the usual, thus, this Christmas post ain't very late at all.
The Robinson's Place, probably one of the top shopping destinations in the city shared a different twist of Christmas Decorations. Move the Christmas Lanterns and welcome the colorful icons of popular cities around the world.
The Eiffel Tower of Paris , The Sydney Opera House, The Leaning Tower of Pisa, New York's Statue of Liberty, Roman Colosseum, Russia's Saint Basil's Cathedral and more wonders merged in one setting to showcase Christmas as the world sees it.
Wherever you may be, may it be in the Philippines or somewhere out there on the other side of the globe. The real meaning of Christmas isn't just about presents, Santa Claus or Noche Buena. Christmas is all about the birth of our Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Promenade

It was not really intentional but my friend said it would be nice for us to eat at the 'Promenade', a restaurant in Days Hotel. What I like about the restaurant is that it has a very nice view of the provincial capitol and of course, the food was 'perfecto'. The price was definitely reasonable and you will surely love and savor the food that will be served before you.
The food is great, the ambiance is warm, the view is magnificent... what else would a hungry traveler wish for? It was indeed unintentional for us to drop by at the Promenade, but for sure, we will hop in again for this fine restaurant defines the word 'Splendid'!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Molo Plaza

A friend once said that the trees in Molo Plaza is definitely enchanting in a way that they look mysterious and aged. Branches, curving into indefinite shapes, add up a fairy-tale-like essence to the real picture. With The Famous St. Anne Church as a background, Molo Plaza is indeed a haven of Photographers and tourists.In most pictures St. Anne Church is always accompanied by the neoclassic Gazebo which is in the center of the square. Though many tall trees dominate the Plaza, they cannot outgrow the majestic twin spires of St. Anne.
Molo is considered as the Athens of the Philippines, since it produced many Political leaders of the country. It is the home of many old houses, may it be a grandiose mansion or a quiet Bahay na Bato. One of the oldest bakeries in the country is also located near the Plaza.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Castle Hotel

A Mansion for a Hotel? Yes.
The Castle Hotel located in Bonifacio Drive isn't just a beautiful old house. Restored to the nines it is a perfect place to stay as it exudes an old world vibrance as manifested by its Medieval inspired architecture. Each room is well furnished, air conditioned and equipped with facilities of comfort, warmth, and privacy.

It is located near the Provincial Capitol, The Atrium Mall, The Gaisano City Mall and the Days Hotel. For more information and for reservation please contact Tel No: (033) 338-1021/338-3280/338-3281 or Fax No: 338-1021.

So why should tourist stay in the Castle Hotel? Well, I guess one of the reasons is that it is situated in one of the most accessible places in the city and the best part is that it is just a few steps away from one of the Major routes of Dinagyang Festival's 'Ati' street dancing. Indulge yourself with the best that the Castle Hotel can offer and you'll realize it's not just the outside that's pretty about this historical destination.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Jaro Belfry

The Jaro Cathedral is one of the few churches in the Philippines with a Bell tower not attached to the church itself. The belfry which was built a few meters in front of the cathedral also functioned as a clock tower. It was primarily built of Brick overlain with fossil stones in Neoclassic Architecture.
The Jaro Belfry remained an astonishing sight in the City of Iloilo years thereafter. It captured the eyes of onlooker, travelers, and photographers of the 19th century. In 1948, a great earthquake destroyed the belfry leaving only the base intact. It was then rebuilt but in a remodeled sense that the new structure was given less Neoclassic details. Unused for years, the belltower remained an icon and a marker of a great Religious Era.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Tienda Antigua: History For Sale

What's a historical city without an antique shop?
Tienda Antigua on the corner of Benedicto Street, Jaro, might offer you interesting finds like, furnitures, lamps, religious art sculptures and more. The name itself, "Tienda Antigua" is a Spanish translation of "Antique Shop". There are artifacts inspired by Biblical and Religious Characters. Others have oriental features, like for instance, a Chinese Medicine Safe or an old Chinese vase. Furnitures of classical styles preserved or restored are also available inside.It is not a rarity to find old wooden saints possibly of the golden years of Spanish Religious Art in the Philippines. There are also stone sculptures similar to those carved on stone churches and houses typical of the region.
For antique dealers, Tienda Antigua is a haven of good deals perfect for a souvenir or a fine living room art piece. It is a one -of-a-kind store that doesn't just sell anything pleasing to the eyes but things that have survived ages and generations, ornaments that aren't just there to amaze but rather tell stories old families, people, and events in a time frame that was forgotten by this constantly changing world. Tienda Antigua doesn't just sell anything usual like any store does... They sell History.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fortresses of Guimbal

In the olden days, the coastal village of Guimbal was occasionally raided by Moro pirates from the Southern Islands. Three watchtowers were built near the shores to help warn the people if the Moros were approaching. These watchtowers are called 'Bantayan', an Ilonggo word which literally means a "Place to Watch". Until these days the Bantayan towers are still standing in their posts not as watchtowers against the invaders but as icons of a historic town.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Manduriao Church

Manduraio is one of Iloilo City's booming commercial and residential centers. Like the other districts of the city, Manduriao was once a seperate town. In the olden days, Manduriao as a town, thrived with it's agricultural and salt making industry.
The Manduriao church might not be as historic as the other churches of the city but it is worth a visit. It is located in front of the town plaza and was probably built in the 19th century. Built to complement Iloilo's old world distinction, the exterior is somewhat a combination of modern and classical architecture and the idea of having twin belfries could have been possibly inspired by the usual Hispanic Era Churches in the region.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Ornate Guimbal Church

San Nicholas of Tolentino Church in Guimbal is one of the most ornate churches found in Iloilo. Many Baroque churches in the Philippines emphasize massiveness, hugeness and sturdiness but Guimbal Church is different, here, art is given more attention. The edifice is an explosion of ornate designs combining Oriental and European art. Twinned Corinthian pillars, ornamental rosettes of Asiatic styles, Moorish spires and classic finials are the most imposing facets of the facade.
The church has been reconstructed many times after calamities and war tested the strength of its stone walls. It has been enlarged and restored so well that it appeared to have never been tainted by time. The tall belfry was recently reconstructed years after the original one was destroyed. The new belfry which is possibly of West Asian influence is so large that it gave the entire structure a fortress like appearance.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ruins of Janiuay Church: A Hanging Garden

I lived almost half of my childhood life in Janiuay, a town North of Iloilo City. I can still remember playing at the very ruins of this old brick church when I was still in grade school. It is one of the most mysterious places that remained magnificent even if it was ruined by seasons and war.

Janiuay church was said to be a very beautiful edifice that gave pride to its creators. It was one of the largest churches built in the region with an architecture so fine that it deviated from the usual 'Earthquake Baroque' Styles of the other neighboring churches since it used wooden elements and emphasized lightness through large windows instead of heaviness with thick walls of stone. In the second world war, it was burned down but the solid parts of the church still remained. The whole church was then transformed into a garden made by birds and bats who seeded the ruins with trees, flowering weeds and shrubs. Later on, a man made garden was the built to emphasize this incidental wonder, a hanging garden.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

San Joaquin Church: A Gem of History

Observing the facade of San Joaquin Church, a traveler might find it interesting like the other baroque churches found in Iloilo's Southwestern coastal towns. Like Miagao and Tigbauan, the facade of San Joaquin Church is burgeoned with decorative designs that either depict the beauty of Christian Art or abstract stories with faith driven meanings. The Bas Relief carved in the pediment of San Joaquin Church, known as the 'Rendicion Tetuan', is not just a mere ornament but a carved illustration that tells the story about the victory of the Christians against the Moors in Morroco.
The style used in this edifice is so oriental that even the saints settling in their rosette framed niches look very Chinese, so as the warriors and their horses carved in the pediment.
The carved mural on the pediment isn't the sole reason why this shrine is called a 'gem' the fact that it is dedicated to the Most Holy Name of Jesus Christ, makes it a very important structure in the world of Christianity.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dingle Church: Something Different

Dingle Church was built in 1874 using yellowish limestone in Neoclassic Architecture. The details of the facade share some similarities with the facades of Lambunao and Duenas Churches. The sole belfry seems to be a mere example of 'Vulgar Gothic' which is somewhat a pleasant departure from the Neoclassic wholeness brought by the facade.

Dingle, which was then called Baong was once a visita of Pototan and became an independent parish in 1611. Though the church is not as large as compared to the huge churches of Molo and Cabatuan, it boasts a clean and preserved elegance which matches the calmness and tranquility of the town.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tejido Ilongga

Aside from the huge churches, lavish mansions and mouthwatering delicacies, Iloilo also boasts the fact that during the Spanish Colonial Era, the province was called the "Textile center of the Philippines" wherein the coastal towns from Oton to Miagao became the major producers of quality textiles.
During the American regime, the fabric-textile industry began to decline when cheap cotton was used instead pineapple fabrics. However, in the late decades of the 1900's, the textile industry began to rise as pineapple fabric was recognized not only because of its durability but also because of its intricacy and beauty.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Cemetery of San Joaquin

Legends say that there was once a mythical beast, half horse- half man, who goes to the shore to drink. The sight of this legendary creature frightens the people and thus, a shrine was built to ward off this magical spirit. This shrine is the 'Campo Santo' or the cemetery chapel of San Joaquin, an intricate oriental baroque structure that was built in the late 1800's trough hewn fossil stones and baked bricks.
Oriental art can be distinguished by the intricate use of floral motifs and curves, pointed finials that have Hindu influences all enhanced by the alternating colors of white and red.
Before reaching the town, a traveler might notice the crown like chapel looming over the cemetery. Delicate like a freed soul, the 'Campo Santo' is truly a heritage treasure that should be preserved for the next generation.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Laguda Mansion Ruins

General Hughes St. in Downtown, Iloilo City was once the city's Elite Avenue,where the rich and the famous once had their seaside villas. Though many mansions still existed, few did not to survive the tests of time; many were abandoned and some were completely devastated.
The Laguda House, a beautiful neoclassic mansion was a beautiful edifice before the spark of the second world war. However, like Fort San Pedro, it was bombed and later left in ruins. Lost Memories and Forgotten treasures still haunt the very walls of this old mansion. Astonishing and Mysterious, the beauty of the mansion is still extant that even if it is left in ruins, it never fails to struck passersby with awe.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The old world charm of Calle Real

Welcome to Calle Real more popularly known in the 'modern world' as the JM Basa Street. This street is probably the oldest and busiest commercial district in the city. Before there were malls, Calle Real was said to be the city's shopping haven and it had been a commercial center since the Spanish Colonial Era. During the late Spanish Era and the Early American Occupation, Spanish was said to be the medium language used in this part of the city. The Old world charm of Iloilo is still preserved in these old buildings, but it seems that many of these heritage treasures are not very well maintained. Calle Real as envisioned by many critics as 'the next Macau' (if only everything will be restored perfectly), is worthy to be called a 'Historical Landmark', that if, every Ilonggo will participate and help preserve the old edifices that has been painting JM Basa Street with vintage colors.
Let us move now! I know it is easier said than done, but let us not wait for these structures to dilapidate and fall a part before we act and save them.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Ruins of Fuerza de San Pedro

During the early Spanish period, La Punta or the downtown city was ocassionally attacked by Moro Pirates and Dutch Invaders. The Spanish government in Iloilo therefore initiated the construction of a fortress that will protect the thriving trading centre . It became one of the best fortresses in the country, a model of medieval Spanish architecture. However, the only problem with the fortress is that it was built close to the sea where it was too exposed to the strong waves. Because of this, the walls of the fortress deteriorated as time passed by.
After the devastating bombing of Iloilo, Fort San Pedro was completely destroyed. The only remnants of this known spanish fortress are the large pieces of limestone blocks which were used to build its once massive walls. Even if the century old fort was ruined, it was never removed from the hearts of every ilonggo. It has been converted into an esplanade where one can simply watch over the sunas it sinks behind the long silhoutte of Guimaras Island.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Miagao Church, A World Heritage Site

According to History, the present church of Santo Tomas de Villanova was the fourth one to be constructed in Miagao. Earlier churches were said to be burned by the Moro Pirates who ocassionally raided the seaside town. The poblacion was then transfered on top of Takas(Tacas) Hill where a fortress was built to protect the people from the raiders.
Aesthetically, the church isn't just any ordinary structure, it's an explosion of art and extraordinary beauty. The facade is said to be one of the best in the Philippines. Here, elements of Rococo, Churisguresque and Neoclassicism were combined to form a baroque masterpiece. It is noticeable that the artist used different types Filipino Botanicals supported by heavily carved balusters and intricare rococo carvings.
Aside from the facade, the unsymmetrical belfries contribute to the baroque roundness of the fortress. The pyramidal structure of the belfries are distinct features based from Mayan and Aztec Architecture. The church is now recognized as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Convento de Santa Barbara

We Filipinos might associate Mudejaric Christian art with Cebu's Carcar Church but Iloilo's Santa Barbara Church is also a good example of Mudejar architecture. The facade of Santa Barbara church is perhaps a miniature of India's Basilica of Born Jesus while the convent's geometric designs and ornaments are similar with Southern Spain's Moorish inspired Churches. Mudejar architecture was widely used in Moorish Europe (Southern Spain and Morocco). It is a combination of both Classic and Moorish elements.
Historically, Santa Barbara Church was the headquarters of Iloilo's Revolutionary government which was headed by Iloilo's first provincial governor, General Delgado. The convent survived the threats of World War II but some parts were damaged after the 1948 tremor.
If you're itenary includes Sta. Barbara Church on the list, you wouldn't have any problem figuring out which jeepney to take. The Santa Barbara-Highway Jeepney passes UPV-Iloilo and SM city Iloilo and the Santa Barbara- Lapaz Jeepney routes through Lapaz and Jaro. Both jeepneys routes through Pavia. Santa Barbara shares a part of the Iloilo International Airport which is originally in Cabatuan, a neighboring town. It hosts the main access road towards the airport. The oledst golf course in South East Asia was also established in Santa Barbara, thus making it the recreation capital of Northern Iloilo.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Cabatuan Church: Grandiose Elegance

Cabatuan church was built in 1734, a year after the town was established. The church was then built of light materials and the deficient source of stone quaries caused the delay of the construction of a larger temple. A hundred years later, Fr. Ramon Alquizar was assigned in Cabatuan as a parochial priest. He initiated the construction of a larger house of worship through baked bricks. Fr. Ramon Alquizar was the first one who introduced brick manufacturing in the province during the olden days, and his work of art, a masterpiece of varied architecture is our very own Cabatuan Church, or more commonly known as the church of San Nicolas de Tolentino. This church isn't just the first church to built of red bricks in the region, but it is the largest red brick structure in the Visayas as well. The later priest who undergone the finishing touches did fine work of transforming the church from a simple worship shrine to a grand basilica-like temple, thus the media reffered the church as 'the model of temples' since it was a mirror a majestic basilica inside and out. The church's structural architecture is similar with Latin American churches like that of Cuzco Cathedral in Peru and the church in Puebla, Mexico; however the design used on Facades are derived from Tuscanic architecture which is common in Southern Europe. Interiorly, the church is given a baroquial drift but still flowing with the balance of neoclacissm.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Law and Order

In the Early 1900's, the old Iloilo city hall grounds was once located in General Luna St. where the University of the Philippines is now located, in fact, the old city hall of iloilo is presently the University library of the UP campus.
This edifice which is Classical Roman in style is one of the city's prominent icons. The Facade portal of the library is flanked by two large statues named "Law" and "Order". These statues are greek in style and possess strong facial expressions which demand strength and power.

Miagao Cemetery Capilla

Indeed, Miagao Church is a popular tourist destination in the Province. It is one of the most photographed churches in the country and is one of the World Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO. However, aside from this 17th century church, Miagao also holds another historical treasure, the town's Hispanio-Filipino Cemetery and It's Romanesque Chapel.
This is the only extant chapel in Western Visayas which still sports an 18th century brick dome. Built of baked bricks and yellowish coral stones, the chapel lies quietly on the foot of hill where the Poblacion of Miagao is located. Unlike the town's baroque church, the motiff of this chapel is simplicity, no intricate relief can be found on the facade except for a simple carving of the merged skull and crossbones.There are three entrances with roman arches each topped by circular windows. Ionic pilasters divide the facade into three and baroque finials crown the chapel's eight edges.
Upon aproaching the chapel, one may notice a ruined edifice on the left part of the cemetery. It is obvious that the edifice is a remnant from the 16th-17th century. Until this very day, no one knows what the structure was before it was ruined but it might be a church built before the present fortress church was finished.

Monday, May 21, 2007

San Jose Church

Like what I have mentioned in an earlier post, San Jose Church is indeed one of the most interesting places one should definitely visit during his trip in Iloilo. This Church was designed to appear like the Spanish Church of Valencia Del Cid but further alterations to its facade gave it its own architectural identity.
Many Historical artifacts are housed in the church making it not any ordinary one. It may not look very artistic from the outside but it's grand rococo-gothic interior will surprise a visitor. The most important treasure in this church is the statue of "Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary" which was accidentally discovered in a pile of debris during the Spanish-Dutch War in La Punta in 1614.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Iloilo Customs House

When walking around Iloilo's old world district along Calle Real, one might notice a magnificent tower popping out behind the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand. The same scene can be distinguished when one arrives on Iloilo through Iloilo's Domestic Port. That beautiful tower which welcomes the break of the dawn and muses the last peek of the sunset is the tower of Iloilo's Customs house, more commonly known as the Aduana. This Neoclassic structure which looks over the river wharf and the Muelle Loney port, is one of Iloilo's most astonishing icons. Built during the early 1900's it was believed to be deisgned similarly with the old Custom houses of Cebu and Manila.

Aduana seemed to be one of the fewest 18th-19th colonial buildings which still stand intact along the Muelle Loney River Wharf. Though many old world buildings were left abandoned or in ruins, Muelle Loney still proves that history never ceased along its territory. It is still a historic international port like it was back in 1855.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Santa Anna Church: Iloilo's Finest Gothic Church

It seems that Gothic architecture is very rare in the Philippine archipelago. In Iloilo, we have a number of Gothic structures varrying from ancestral mansions, colonial era commercial buildings, schools and churches. The most popular amongst these attractions is the Gothic Renaissance Church Molo dedicated to Santa Anna.Aside from being a Beautiful Edifice, the church is very historical since the Country's National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal once visited the church just to admire its Biblical-inspired beauty. It is noticeable that the church regards womanhood since female saints dominate the aisles heading to the altar. Exteriorly, the church is of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. The first and second level is decorated by tuscan and corinthian pilasters with roman windows decorated by geometric designs. The third level of the church is finely gothic in style proven by spirelets and gothic arch-niches and windows. Ineteriorly, the church is Romanesque but few elements of gothic architecture lifts its submissive features. Five wooden retablos are designed in Gothic architecture which gives the church a domination of Gothic- reniassance artistry.

Why I Love Molo Church? The spires of St. Anne church never failed to astonish me. It's grandeur is like no other and it's colonial environment complements its splendid millieu. The relaxing ambiance of the districts square burgeoned by enchanting trees gives the setting a classic medieval touch worth seeing.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Baroque Cemetery of Cabatuan

The cemetery of Cabatuan is byzantine and roman in architecture. Three Roman Arches dominate the front gates each adorned by multilayered pillars. The layout of the cemetery is described as the model of zoning and uniformity.
The Chapel in the middle of the cemetery is built out of gray stones using Gothic, Roman, Byzantine, Baroque and Tuscan Architectures. The relief anterior of the three arch doors are amongst the most elaborate rendition of the skull and the crossbone. Gothic rosettes finely decorate the cornice and the roman arches give it a uniquely baroque impression.
Though Octagonal, the interior of the cemetery is oval. The crucified Christ on the altar signifies that all souls were saved from their sins. And that Heaven awaits those who accepted Christ as their savior.

The Traveler: Iloilo Onfoot's Busy Feet

Who is Giancarlo?
Giancarlo is a young traveler/student/blogger/amateur photographer and visual artist. He was born in Jaro, grew up in Janiuay and is currently living in Cabatuan(Iloilo). He is fond of art and is currently exploring the world of photography.

Why Iloilo Onfoot?
Fond of taking pictures of old heritage sites, beautiful places and traditional way of life, Giancarlo aims to showcase different images of Iloilo. He wants the world to discover a beautiful province in the heart of the Philippine Archipelago.

What Else?
Giancarlo is the first president of the Heritage Conservation Society Iloilo. A non profit organization aimed to preserve Iloilo's historical legacies. HCS Iloilo aims to build awareness and educate the public about how important heritage conservation is.

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Contact Giancarlo
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Thank You and God bless...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Pavia Church: Iloilo's Italian inspired Church

From Sta. Barbara or going to Sta. Barbara, one might pass Pavia, Western Visayas' Agro-Industrial centre which is the smallest municipality in the Province. It lies adjacent to Jaro and San Miguel and is oen of the most vital town's which plays a big role in Iloilo developing economy.
Pavia was established with regards to an Italian City also named Pavia. The church of Pavia, here in Iloilo was designed similarly with the Romanesque Basilica of Pavia, Italy.
Pavia Church in honor of Sta. Monica is Iloilo's only redstone church which means that it was built of no ordinary bricks. Byzantine Architecture dominates the wall ornaments and the central structure of the church. The multi-layered arch windows are built of white coral stones and so as the pillared arch-entrances. Simplicity and cleanliness dominates the entire facade of the church. The only ornaments found are the carved greek cross and the consequent archwindows and multilayered rose windows.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Pamul-ogan Hill, a Historical Shrine of Faith

Ash Wednesday is believed to be the start of the Lent Season and when we talk about the Lent Season, we open ourselves into the world of Catholic traditions, Procesions, Pilgrim Shrines, Visita Iglesia and more...

One of the most historical pilgrim sites in Iloilo is the Pamul-ogan Hill Shrine in Cabatuan, where History clashes with Religion. According to early documents, the discovery of Cabatuan in the heart of the province was initiated when a Molave Cross was planted on the highest peak of the locale. A year after the cross was planted, a town was established in the northern bank of Tigum river near the foot of the hill.On its base lies the only remnant of the original wooden cross where year 1732 was inscribed. The shrine over looks the panoramic view of Cabatuan and its Neoclassic Church of bricks and limestones; on the other side of the hill, one may notice the New Iloilo Airport towering over the southwestern plains of Cabatuan.
Preserved in clandestine by nature, Pamul-ogan cross lies silently on the summit of the hill awaiting to be awaken in the midst of the Lent. The procesion towards the Hill starts in the mouth of Barangay Pamul-ogan in Cabatuan.

Friday, February 23, 2007

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Afrique's: The Italian Way

... the taste that will make you say... "Bene!"

When in Iloilo, a tourist might be given a chance to taste the province's savoury pieces of heaven. The province is noted to have been the origin of some oriental filipino delicacies, which are being sought by millions. In case a tourist might crave for something western, then he must try Afrique's...
An Italian inspired menu will surely liven up everybody's tastebuds. Oriental Supreme Pizza, Sicilian Pasta, Special Pizza... ahhh.. sounds Yummy? well, the taste is even better! these are just few of the restaurants numerous tasty delicacies. A date, family day dining, a birthday treat... every event suits Afrique's restaurant. And every tongue will surely love what's Afrique's can offer.
Afrique has about four branches in the entire city of Iloilo, one is in Jaro, the other is in Smallville in Manduriao, next is in Molo near Hotel del Rio and the last is near Plaza Libertad in the downtown area. Afriques also offers a menu of varied meals and delicacies that will definitely make travelers enjoy a dining experience that is like no other.