MIAG-AO: A POINT OF CULTURAL AND HISTORICAL WEALTH

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Located in Western Visayas – Region VI, specifically Iloilo, and considered as one of the biggest municipalities of the Philippines consisting of 119 barangays (also known as a village or district which originated from the Malay term “balangay” which meant sailboat) and just about 40-km. southwest from the city. A 45 min. to 1 hour travel from Iloilo Terminal Market “Super” (near Robinson’s Place), Molo Bus Terminal or Mohon Terminal.
Long ago, this distant village and its neighboring towns were most often invaded by Moro Pirates thus it lead to the migration of some of its inhabitants and relocation of most settlements closer to the city to avoid the scourge of Moro Pirates which resulted to the difficulty of its progression and of becoming a significant location to the outside world.
Today, it is a recognized travel destination wealthy of cultural and historical inheritances. It is in here where one of four Baroque Churches of the Philippines enlisted under the UNESCO World Heritage List can be located and home of one of the most outstanding educational institutions in the Southern Philippines, the University of the Philippines Visayas – Miag-ao Campus.
HOME OF A UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE
Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Church, a Baroque Church of the Philippines built by the Spanish Augustinian missionaries in 1786 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site proclaimed in 1993.  This structure is a collection of four Spanish period churches in the Philippines. Its architecture dates back during the Spanish colonial period when Christianity was introduced to the people of the country and seemingly the only period when the Church and the State were considered as one entity.
Because of many conflicts regarding this idealism and with other religions, specifically the Muslims, most of these churches were mostly invaded by its enemies thus these structures were garrisoned and transformed into a defensive structure therefore mostly represents a defensive fortress rather than a remarkable building of worship.

Gazing upon the front view of the Sto. Tomas de Villanueve Church, you will notice that it is bordered with two belfries (a form of medieval siege tower) and outwardly designs such as a coconut tree at the top, a statue of the Sto. Niño at the center and with flora and fauna figures in some parts. The whole façade reveals the past way of life of the Miagaowanons and for them the coconut tree was considered as the tree of life and one of their most important native products.

SALAKAYAN FESTIVAL: EMPOWERING THE LEGACY

Weeks after the Kasadyahan and the Dinagyang festival of Iloilo City, there’s still another recognized festival within the province limits known as the Salakayan Festival of Miag-ao. This festival dates back to May 7, 1754, a recorded battle when Moro pirate invaders, coming from the shores, “salakay” or attacked the natives to steal their goods and belongings. Village defenders came to the rescue and fought bravely to protect its people and livelihood.
Today, to commemorate such historical event, the Miag-ao government organized the Salakayan Festival, a week-long festival every first week of February. The festival is composed of various activities such as Food Fairs, Trade Fairs, Fluvial Parades, Visual Presentations and so much more. One of the highlights of the festival was the re-enactment of the historical event via a street dance competition, depicting artistic and creative choreography and direction of how the event transpired. The festivity was meant to empower the rich history and culture of the municipality and attract tourists, letting them realize that after the city’s big celebration, the party is not yet over and that its still more fun in Iloilo especially in Miag-ao.
Parade of Volkswagen Beetle Cars
A RENOWNED INSTITUTION OF HONOR AND EXCELLENCE


With regards to the University of the Philippines school campus in Iloilo City, there’s another campus found in Miag-ao, built during the time of UP President Emil Q Javier. A renowned campus that mainly focuses on educating students on the fields of aquaculture, marine science, fish processing, food science and many other arts and sciences.

Statue of the Nymph of the Sea

An outstanding school for fresh high school graduates who have passions and aspirations with respect to Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. You will really love the place because at one thing, the school is built very close to the shores thus not only will you be able to study scientific facts and ideas indoors but also appreciate the outdoor beauties that nature offers.
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Madge Café: Pure Ilonggo Vintage Café

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Coffee is every man’s best friend in starting a new day of work and wonder. Whether you’re a student, laborer or senior citizen, a sound and alert mind are very important elements in dealing with another day’s worth of stress and anxiety. A weak and aloof mind permits danger to everyone and the only way to prevent such potential dangers is to drink your most loved blend and/or brand of coffee.



THE HEALTHY GAIN OF COFFEE CONSUMPTION

A cup of coffee is loaded with antioxidants that protect the body against harmful free radicals. These free radicals are usually the relative causes of heart problems, cancer and other diseases. The presence of caffeine, a CNS stimulant and diuretic, in coffee plays a major role boosting concentration therefore making a person more awake and alert. In addition, caffeine have other certain effects in the body such as increasing dopamine and cortisol (stress hormone) levels thus boosting energy and cutting depression which usually leads to weight gain to heart disease and diabetes. Lastly, one of the most loved features of coffee by many people, regardless of the presence of antioxidants which are truly good for the skin, caffeine in coffee is a vasodilator that works to firm an tighten skin complexions.


Aside from the commercialized coffee shops such as Coffee Break, Blue Jay and Starbucks found in Iloilo City, a “your not-so-modern” and vintage type of coffee shop exists inside La Paz public market, Iloilo City. The coffee shop is called Madge Café, dedicated to the wife of Mr. Dela Cruz, Magdalena, who, in the past, was habitually called “Madge” by her friends and relatives.

Outside La Paz Public Market




HISTORY OF A PURE-ILONGGO VINTAGE CAFÉ

Madge Café was established in the early 1940s through the mind set of Mr. Vicente and Mrs. Magdalena de la Cruz. It was a pre-war family recipe that was tested through time. The café together with the family recipe were handed down to their son Gerardo in 1977 and then to his wife and kids. The family makes use of native Arabica roast supplied from northern Iloilo and the coffee is brewed in a native and traditional way using conventional methods with the takure (kettle) and kolador (strainer). They never had an outlook of branching out for the sole purpose of protecting and securing the family recipe and business.



A POINT FOR IDEAS AND CHATS

At Madge Café, the place is described as a carinderia-type of shop thus looks so homey that you don’t have to feel any social status discrimination. Everyone who sips their coffee at the place dresses up like regular customers until you have a chat with them. You may just be amazed that some customers are actually doctors, lawyers, policemen, media practitioners and known politicians. It is not the design of the establishment that makes Madge Café a recognized place which you normally feel from commercialized cafés but through the presence of such customers and from listening to their chats.



The establishment was formerly visited by famous people such as Mr. Palengke Mar Roxas, Action Star Cesar Montano, Congressman Jerry Treñas, Iloilo City’s own major Jed Patrick Mabilog and current Vice President Jejomar Binay. For those who don’t want to sit and drink in a library-like area, then this place is the best location. Everyone is free to express themselves and to share their thoughts and ideas about many issues.


When I went to Madge Café for the first time, at first I really thought that it was a carinderia, a native food shop. Just by the looks of it, you won’t expect it to be a coffee shop, no electronic coffee machines and mixers. The interiors appeared very native with some hanging paper decorations, ceiling fans and a big cork board with old pictures of its previous customers and newspaper articles regarding the place. As I entered the place and found a seat, I was approached and asked by the waitress whether I will order coffee or not. I said yes, and then she asked me follow-up questions. Strong or mild? With or without milk? I replied, mild and with milk please. I asked if they had a menu, they said no. After a couple of minutes, my coffee came and when I tasted it, (gosh!) it tasted great. I surveyed the place while having my coffee and then found out that you can order other food to complement with your coffee. Foods such as puto, ibus or pan de ciosa would be great complementary foods with the coffee. You can also order pancit canton if you’re really hungry.



Most of all, the prices are very affordable. The coffee only costs P22. It is a neat price for good coffee and the ambiance of the area makes it more comfortable for me to be myself and move freely without the worries of being mentally mocked by other customers. It was interesting to see students talk about their problems and likes in school and senior citizens talking about the issues of the country and of the city itself. It made me awe to hear their ideas and thoughts about politics, where others are true and credible while others are debatable.



Also, a part of my observations, there were mugs that were customized. Some had names on them and some were personalized with many designs and colors. I asked one of the waitresses if who owned those mugs with names on them. She replied that those mugs were owned by their most regular of customers. I thought to myself if how cool it was to have my own personalized mug and use it every time I visit the shop. If you want to have your own personalized mug then just ask the management that you want to be their regular customer and have your mugs be personalized as well. Better than Starbucks?



Madge Café is rarely visited by foreigners, most of the time by natives of the city and mostly Filipinos. If ever I’ll have relatives and/or friends who would like to visit Iloilo City, this place is automatically part of my itinerary for them.