Jeffer's Odyssey

Guimaras: Trappist Abbey & The Guisi Lighthouse (+ mangoes!!)

This wraps up my short jaunt in the island province of Guimaras. I know for sure that there are still a lot of places that are worth checking out, and I wish I could have gone to all of them. But if you have limited time, then you’d have to make do with what little you have, and be grateful, right? Maybe I’ll go back someday, maybe not. Who knows. But I do know this was a visit worth remembering, short though it was. Now, let’s go to the Trappist Abbey and the Guisi Lighthouse, shall we? If you haven’t yet, check out my other two earlier posts on my visit to Guimaras,

The Smallest Plaza & The Holy Family Hills

San Lorenzo Wind Farm (feat. Mango Pizza)

The Trappist Abbey

I first heard of “Trappist” when others suggested we go there to purchase pasalubong or delicacies as presents for when we go home. In fact, I even thought it was “trapeze”, and pictured a small town or even a public market.

Well, it turned out to be an abbey, and it’s actually “Trappist”. And it’s actually a monastery.

The official name of this place is Our Lady of the Philippines Monastery, and it is the only Trappist monastery in the Philippines, which is probably why it is more famous by that name. And through some readings I learned that Trappist is a branch of the Cistercian Order, a Catholic religious Order of cloistered monastics or monks that strictly follow the rule of St. Benedict. (Check out their official website.)

The surroundings of the Abbey actually had a slight resemblance to that of Holy Family Hills, because there were lots of trees and other flora. Taking a walk around the monastery grounds is definitely quite a relaxing experience.

But there are two main points of our visit to Trappist. First was to take a look at the prayer areas. This chapel seemed to be the main prayer area.

Tiles, marble, stained glass windows, gleaming surfaces… you can easily tell that the people running this place care about it and that they actually love what they do.

By the way, the Trappist monks running the place earn income by selling delicacies and food products, as well as souvenirs and other crafts that tourists may like. They are sold in a separate building and even the sales personnel there were monks. That’s where you can buy Trappist monastic products such as baked products, spreads and marmalades, and lots more.

Be careful, though, you might find yourself having spent several grand when you step out. Their products just look so tempting you couldn’t help but end up with a significant haul.

The Guisi Lighthouse

This was our last stop before our driver will bring us back to the Jordan Wharf. It’s also the farthest from the Wharf, since it is located in the town of Nueva Valencia.

Before arriving at the Lighthouse, however, there is quite a short hike through a dirt road from the parking area. If my memory serves me right, the hike through the trail takes around 5-10 minutes. I think it took us 10 because we stopped to take photos every now and then.

Along the way, you can look out into the sea for the great view. But there is also a stretch of beach that you can reach if you take a flight of stone steps below.

See that stretch of white in the distance? That’s the Guisi Beach.

We would have wanted to take a dip and relax a bit on the beach. Some of us actually even brought swimming clothes and extra clothes to change into afterwards. But we were running short of time, and we were expected back in Iloilo City by mid-afternoon. So… there goes our beach moments. *sigh*

Oh and did I mention that it was a very warm day? So we could not resist buying these ice candies from the small store before the Lighthouse.

And we get to the Guisi Lighthouse (Ruins).

This 18th-century lighthouse is considered to be a historical landmark in Guimaras. It was built around 1894 in a Spanish colonial style, and its location was perfect for guiding sailors and mariners taking the strait between Iloilo and Guimaras.

Here’s another fact. These ruins are what’s left of the second oldest lighthouse in the Philippines. Incidentally, the oldest is the one in Aparri, Cagayan (which I have yet to visit).

The first thing you’d see is the ruins of an outpost. And they are definitely ruins.

From afar, the remaining walls look like they would crumble anytime, but on closer inspection, they still seemed sturdy enough. I mean, I even climbed some parts, and they held fast when subjected to my weight, haha!

Maybe it’s because the stones used by the Spanish government were of the best quality, that’s why what remained still… well, remained.

I have to say, though, that these ruins have an undeniable charm to them, even in such a disarray. Even the clinging vines on the walls added some sort of a charming quality to the place.

Oh, and in case you missed it, the roof is already completely gone.

See that white lighthouse? Well, that is not the Guisi Lighthouse. It is actually one that has been built by the Philippine Coast Guard. I’m not quite sure it is still operational. It probably is, although there were no other indications because the place was deserted when we got there. I mean, no staff in sight.

By the way, the place where I stuck my camera to get this shot was a stone well, presumably used by the people who used to stay in this outpost. Of course, since it is also part of the ruins, no one should expect to get some water out of it. XDDD (It’s pretty shallow, though, from what I can recall.)

That tall brown thing in the background is the actual old lighthouse, the original one that was completed in 1896. Before going there, however, it was quite fun to go into the rooms on the side. Or what used to be rooms of the outpost, I should say.

And there she is. Guisi Lighthouse.

At 58 feet, it’s not necessarily very tall. I mean, I’ve seen taller lighthouses. And it is made of metal that is obviously already rotting. In fact, if you’re OC, then you’d probably be hesitant to even touch any part of it, because you might have to require a tetanus shot afterwards.

But it’s not all that bad, it turns out. XD It still felt quite sturdy, even if it looked like it’d crumble when the slightest wind blows against it. The fact that it is still standing, even after all these decades, should be enough proof that this is one stubborn lighthouse. No wonder the people of Guimaras still take great pride in it.

…and then, Mangoes.

OK, for real now. This is our last stop.

Of course, when you’re in Guimaras, it makes no sense if you don’t get a taste of their main product – the one that pretty much seems to define them.

I’m talking about the mangoes, of course.

By the way, if only we came here three days earlier, we would have caught the last day of their Guimaras Mango Festival. Tsk. Too bad.

This market was the one near the Guimaras Provincial Capitol in Jordan. We decided to put this for last because we didn’t want to lug these mangoes around, and because it’s in Jordan, and quite close to the Wharf. Needless to say, we all ended up with at least one box of mangoes to bring back home.

Man, they tasted soooooo good! Probably the sweetest mangoes I’ve ever tasted! They certainly didn’t lie when they said these are the best. XDD

So there you have it, folks! My whirlwind visit to Guimaras! By the time we got back to our accommodations in Iloilo, we were hot, sweaty and exhausted. But still oh so glad we spent those few hours in Guimaras. I’m just so glad it’s very close to Iloilo City, so we didn’t have to waste time travelling.

Perhaps, in the future, when I find myself in the area again, I’d spend more than a day. Or two. (Geez, my want list is certainly getting longer. I’d need a second life. And a lottery win.)

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