Due to repairs that had to be made to the house, Jen’s mother hadn’t wanted us to stay in their family home for too long, so after four days we were to check into a hotel in the city. I was excited. Though I had greatly appreciated her family’s hospitality, my favourite parts of the trip so far had been the days where Jen and I could explore as we liked, away from our relatives, and I looked forward to more adventures with her as we gained some independence.
At home, Jen was occupied by her family. Understandably, she had little time for me. Unable to speak Hiligaynon, and with the language skills of a toddler in Tagalog, I communicated with her brother and sister-in-law with brief eye-contact and awkward smiles.
It was another scorching summer’s day. Maiinit! We dumped our luggage in the minivan, and after briefly visiting Jen’s Tito by the sea (his son was happy to see me, apparently), we drove into the city to find her Lolo, whom we met up with at SM City. My stomach was still feeling the effects of Bearland’s chicken the previous day, and another greasy breakfast hadn’t helped, so as soon as we located Jen’s Lolo I darted into the bathroom.
After Jen had changed some pounds to pesos, we regrouped with Jen’s brother and sister-in-law and drove further into the city for lunch. I was hoping we’d find a place where have the option to not eat fatty food, but those places are often few and far between, it seemed. Most restaurants in the area were heaving with hungry customers, and after wandering around we ended up in a small joint called ‘American Legacy’. Perfect… If any cuisine was going to be more unhealthy than Filipino, it was American. I glanced at the menu; meals with one, two, even three burgers. I didn’t think my stomach could handle it; Jen and I only ordered milkshakes.
When everyone’s food arrived, I was surprised. The burgers could fit in the palm of your hand; no wonder they came three to a meal. Jen and I slurped our shakes as Jen’s tubby nephew grabbed fries by the fistful and plunged them into his mouth, his cheeks smeared with ketchup.
In the afternoon, we checked into our hotel room at Injap Tower. Jen’s brother, sister-in-law, and tubby nephew came up with us, the latter climbing all over the beds before taking a nap.
Injap Tower is, according to their website, ‘the tallest and first high-rise building in Western Visayas’, and tries to convey a sense of luxury, with it’s top-floor restaurant, pool facilities, and spa, though you don’t get that sense looking at the gaudy lime and yellow wallpaper in the rooms. The rooms were well equipped, with a large TV and multiple beds, but I much preferred the small boutique hotel we had stayed at in Makati, which had a lower price, and friendlier staff. Of the three hotels we stayed in during our trip, Injap was the least satisfying (but, more on that in later posts…).
After an hour or so, we parted with Jen’s relatives and had the room to ourself. I was looking forward to a couple of days exploring on our own and meeting up with people, and that would start that very evening, when we met up with my long-time internet-acquaintance Angel.
Angel had seen on instagram that we were in Iloilo, We hadn’t talked properly in a year or so, and I’d forgotten she was native to the city. I thought it’d be good for Jen and I to meet up with her in person. When would we get the chance again?
She found us in the centre of SM City, sneaking up on us as we leant over the railing, peering down at the throngs of shoppers milling around. She was accompanied by a friend, and after quick introductions we made our way out of the main mall to a restaurant serving La Paz Batchoy, which we ordered along with a Pancit Molo that never arrived.
Both Angel and her friend were slightly surprised to learn that Jen’s first language is Hiligaynon, and they all became comfortable quickly, speaking in their native tongue. We left the restaurant and walked a short way to a comic book shop in a small shopping district, the three of them happily chatting in Hiligaynon while I perused the shelves, and ended up making a small purchase, as we were the only customers.