This clean, green and laid-back city is known as the seafood capital of the Philippines — no mean feat in an archipelago.
About Roxas City
With over 36,000km of coastline, the Philippines has more than its fair share of places where you can go for seafood. It’s thus no mean feat for a city to be called the country’s seafood capital. In Roxas, the capital of the province of Capiz, you can have your fill of the best fish that the country has to offer — all while chilling in a laid–back environment with echoes of its Spanish colonial past.
Located in Western Visayas (Region VI), the province of Capiz can be found in the northeastern portion of Panay Island, facing the Sibuyan Sea; bordered by Iloilo to the south, Aklan to the north, and Antique to the west.
Highlights for the Traveler
The city was first named Capiz, after the local polished shells that feature heavily in traditional Filipino architecture and design. It was a bustling port town during the Spanish colonial period, regularly receiving and sending ships off to Acapluco and the Viceroyalty of Mexico. In the 1950s, it was renamed Roxas after Manuel Roxas, a native of the province who was the last president of the Commonwealth and the first president of the Third Republic. The Roxas ancestral home is still around and has become a popular tourist spot.
Roxas City’s hometown feel and slower pace of life makes for a languid holiday. Some of the architecture harks back to another time, with homes whose windows are adorned with capiz shells, but in many ways, Roxas is a progressive city: It has won many local accolades for being the greenest and cleanest city in the region. Smokers, be warned: The Department of Health has awarded the city with the Red Orchid award for being 100% tobacco-free.
One of the best things about the city is that most of the popular sites are only five to 10 minutes away from each other, including the Immaculate Conception Metropolitan Cathedral, said to have been founded in the 1707 and refurbished a few times over the centuries; the Panublion Museum, a whitewashed building that was once a circular water tank; Capiz Provincial Capitol, which sports a Spanish colonial façade; and President Manual Roxas’ ancestral home (also called the Acuña House), which sports the traditional capiz windows.
If you’re in the market for your own capiz souvenirs, you can find products in stores around the city. These iridescent shells figure in everything from trays with capiz inlays to capiz lampshades and even chimes that tinkle when the wind blows.
Getting around Roxas is pretty easy — there’s always a tricycle or jeepney to jump into, and the fare is only around ₱8 (US$0.15) per person.
Just outside Roxas City
A mere 9km away is the Banica dried fish market. Rise early — the market opens at 6am and closes at 9am — to sample some local dried seafood such as bulad na pusit (squid), hibe (shrimp), tuyo (herring) and danggit (rabbit fish).
Beaches and rivers are no more than half an hour away from the city. Baybay Beach is also 9km away and while it isn’t as popular as the white-sand beaches in neighboring provinces, there’s always some fresh seafood and a bucket of ice–cold beer waiting at one of the many restaurants on the shore. Take a walk at sunset, when the sky explodes with color.
Ten kilometers from Roxas City is Panay Church. This original structure of the church was built in 1774 and is famous for having the biggest cathedral bell in Asia. The bell, which was created using sacks of coin from the people of the town, measures 1.5m in height and weighs 10 tons.
Take a river cruise at Palina Greenbelt Park, which is only 8km away. Book a hut a day before the tour if you’d like a meal — or a foot massage! — on the water.
By Patricia Barcelon, as of January 2020.