A day trip to Dafalongs in San Dionisio is exhilarating, especially for plant lovers. The first time I visited this place, I was with my three sisters, who are all Seniors.
The second time, I was with my former classmates, all in our 70s, and a younger niece of one of us, who was our driver. Thankfully, she loves plants, so she enjoyed the visit immensely.
On both occasions, we left early so as not to encounter the intense sun at midday. The first time we went, we left at 4 am to have breakfast at the Dafalongs' restaurant. It's open, and you look out into the green rice fields, a relaxing view as you enjoy your meal.
You might wonder about this destination's name. The name came from the flat noses of the owners. In the native language, Ilonggo, nose means "ilong," and flat referring to noses is "dapa," so the owners have "dapa ilongs", flat noses. That's where the name Dafalongs came from.
San Dionisio is 110 km north of the city of Iloilo. It takes about 2 hours and 25 minutes to reach the place. We went straight to Dafalongs, but coming back, we passed by Sara and Barotac Nuevo, two towns we identified as enjoyable for that day trip. There are other towns on the way that are also worth visiting, but we focused on these two. Dafalongs is on the national highway in Barangay Bagacay in San Dionisio, so it is easy to find. If you doubt you're on the right way, you can always ask people on the streets. The roads were good, so the trip was far from exhausting.
We arrived at Dafalongs and immediately sat at the restaurant, ready for a midday meal. Some dishes stood out on the menu because of the local spices they used, which families no longer use regularly. For me, it brought me back to the taste of my childhood.
Dafalongs open at 7 am, so you can come early and enjoy its various breakfast offerings. But Dafalongs' primary attraction is not its restaurant; though the food is delicious, it has a magnificently landscaped garden. With many priceless plants arranged to make visitors stroll in a park, Dafalongs engaged us no end as we looked at the rare collection. There are ponds with flowering lotus in various colors.
There are new additions to Dafalongs, something whimsical and symbols of Christmas. There's a giant Christmas tree close to the entrance. Santa is also right in the midst of the garden. In addition, there is a whimsical, fun sculpture that will make you smile. You can look at the images below.
Mary Ann Cogollo, a former teacher, started this project. She loves plants, which started as a child when she helped her mother with her orchid collection. She stopped teaching and concentrated on gardening, resulting in a vast array of rare plants in Dafalongs and a landscaping business. Today, she helps many, especially women, mostly the farmers' wives who till her family's rice and sugar cane farms.
On our way home, we passed by Ina Farm, a Kubota training center/resort in Barotac Nuevo that Mary Ann had landscaped. In this town, we also enjoyed bowls of oysters selling for just 60 pesos a bowl or U$1.20. We also passed by another town, Sara, where we purchased cheese rolls and ensaymadas at Think About Cakes Bakery. It is worth the stop.
A trip to Dafalongs is very engaging. Good food, relaxing scenery, and a spectacular collection of rare plants make for a satisfying wander.