When I got a word from SMART that I will be sent to Iloilo for the famous Dinagyang Festival, I got extremely excited… at the same time, nervous. Well, it would be my first time in Iloilo and my first time to really experience a festival. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I’ve heard a lot of great things about the big festivals here in the Philippines. My friends would always go back to Manila saying, “It was super fun and really worth the experience.” Most of them even keep on coming back and I’ve always wondered why. I just end up seeing a few photos and clips on social media or television. Well, not this time. Finally, I’m experiencing it myself. Thanks to my SMART family I’m reminded to live it all out! 😀

I, together with my fellow SMART ambassadors and team, stayed at Casa La Granja. It has a very cozy vibe- not the usual kind of hotel.

photo from casalagranja.com


photo from casalagranja.com


Here’s the room for triple sharing. There are two more single beds on the other side of the divider.


Right after checking in at Casa La Granja, we went to Plazuela de Iloilo for the Live All Out Party Truck. This served as the pre-party of the SMART Invasion Party by Spectrum happening the following day. Can I just share how cool the stage was?! Seriously, it’s a real truck that can be opened to something like this…


Even though we finished a little past midnight, we started our day quite early the next day. Our morning agenda: BE A TOURIST! Haha! I wasn’t the only first timer in our #SmartDinagyang crew. Our first stop, Jaro Cathedral. Iloilo is known for their old churches. Honestly, I was impressed. I love architectures that can tell a lot about the history of a place.


Jaro Cathedral was built in 1874 but was damaged by an earthquake. It was then repaired in 1956.


The Smart Dinagyang crew from left to right: Gretchen’s mom, Gretchen Ho, Brian Ong, Miko Carreon, Iris Tan, me, and Kim Monasterial.


Our next stop was Molo church, another huge and beautiful church. I’m in love with its Gothic architecture, which was built in 1831.


We also visited Angelicum school, which occupies the Lizares Mansion (one of the famous landmarks in the city).


For our lunch stop, we had the chance to eat at the famous Tatoy’s Manokan & Seafood. Even my Ilonggo friend reminded me to eat at Tatoy’s. Thanks to Johnlex Bayumbong for bringing us here and for the really yummy food! 😀



Oh, and we even went for a very quick beach trip. It was very quick that we just took a photo. LOL! Well, the shore is just across Tatoy’s. 😉


We then prepared for the grand parade. Look at us posing with these adorable kids! 😀


Hala bira! 😀


Arjo Atayde and Smart Prepaid Ambassadors (me, Miko, Brian and Gretchen) went around the city in SMART’s party float.


Since we were all so tired and famished after our quick “party” (or were we just making room for merienda for this must-try?!?!), we headed to La Paz public market to try the original Batchoy at Netong’s Batchoy. Oh dear, this ain’t cup noodles. It’s the real thing. If I can only bring some to Manila… Huhuhu! 🙁 I already miss the flavourful soup.


And because we had to be energized for the Invasion Party happening that night, we went for a quick coffee break at Madge Cafe (also at La Paz public market). They serve the original “kapeng barako”. And if you see the mugs displayed all over the place, they are actually owned by their regular customers. If you’re not a regular, sorry but your coffee will be served in a tin can. Haha! Thankfully, the ladies were kind enough to put our coffee in plastic cups. 😀


We then headed back to our hotel to freshen up and off we went to the SMART Invasion Party by Spectrum. The photos below could clearly tell how much we had fun.



DJ Ace Ramos



from left to right: Arjo Atayde and Smart Prepaid Ambassadors- Gretchen Ho, Brian Ong, Angela Nepomuceno, Miko Carreon


with the lovely girls Kimmy and Iris


As you can see from the photos above, we started out clean and fresh. After a few minutes, it was time to get dirty… with face paint! Haha! And yeah, there were a little bit (or maybe a lot) of shower of drinks here and there.


David, my hair!!! Hahaha!


As Miko would say it, sleep is for the weak! Hey, we were here to live it all out and so we did! After 1 hour of sleep, we went out in the streets of Iloilo to experience the street dance, the main event of Dinagyang Festival.





Finally!!! It was great to see the Ati Street dance- LIVE! 😀



To say, “I had fun” is definitely an understatement. Words are not enough to describe my 3-day adventure in Iloilo. It was truly overwhelming- something I didn’t really expect. When SMART said they would give the best Dinagyang festival experience, they were true to their word. Of course, it was all about living it all out! 😀


What made the trip even more memorable? I gained new friends. Would you believe most of them I haven’t really met or talked to before this trip? But now, we’re already planning on our next!

Yes, we were all on Dinagyang high even inside the plane. In fact, we still are! 😀


Again, BIG BIG THANK YOU to SMART Prepaid for such an awesome Dinagyang experience! 😀 To live it all out made this trip really unforgettable.

P.S. I didn’t bring my DSLR anymore. Most of my photos were taken using Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

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