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Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Home Province : Iloilo, City of Love

Map of the Iloilo Province.

One of the colorful tribes participating in the famous Dinagyang Festival.

One of the highly anticipated events in the Philippines, Dinagyang Festival started in 1966 in honor of the Holy Child Jesus but the competition began in 1969.

Iloilo is a province of the Philippines located in the Western Visayas region. Iloilo occupies the southeast portion of Panay Island and is bordered by Antique to the west and Capiz and the Jintotolo Channel to the north. Just off Iloilo's southeast coast is the island of Guimaras, once part of Iloilo but now a province in its own right. Across the Panay Gulf and Guimaras Strait is Negros Occidental. Iloilo's capital is Iloilo City. Iloilo is the capital province in Region VI.

People and culture

People from Iloilo are called Ilonggos. There are two local languages spoken in the province: Hiligaynon sometimes called Ilonggo, and Kinaray-a. Hiligaynon and variants of it are spoken in Iloilo city and a few towns of the province.

Spanish architecture can be seen in old buildings in downtown Iloilo. Chinese Merchants and Indonesians were trading with the Ilonggos long before the Spaniards came. The ruling Spanish government encouraged these foreign merchants to trade in Iloilo but they were not given privileges like ownership of land. The Mestizo a class eventually was born from the intermarriages of the locals and Chinese merchants, Spanish with the local Melayu people. They later emerged as the ruling class of the Ilonggos (see Principalia).

The town fiesta is one of the most important events for Ilonggos. Almost every town (municipality) in Iloilo has a fiesta and festival celebrated annually.


Hiligaynon (or "Ilonggo") is an Austronesian language spoken in Western Visayas in the Philippines. Hiligaynon is concentrated in the provinces of Iloilo and Negros Occidental. It is also spoken in the other provinces of the Panay Island group, such as Capiz, Antique, Aklan, Guimaras, and many parts of Mindanao like Koronadal City, South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Kidapawan City and Cotabato City. (It is spoken as a second language by Karay-a in Antique, Aklanon and Malaynon in Aklan, Cebuano in Siquijor, and Capiznon in Capiz.). There are approximately 7,000,000 people in and outside the Philippines who are native speakers of Hiligaynon, and an additional 4,000,000 who are capable of speaking it with a substantial degree of proficiency.

The language is referred to as "Ilonggo" in Negros Occidental and in Iloilo. More precisely, "Ilonggo" is an ethnoliguistic group referring to the people living in Panay and the culture associated with the people speaking Hiligaynon. The boundaries of the dialect called Ilonggo and that called Hiligaynon are unclear. The disagreement of where what name is correct extends to Philippine language specialists and native laymen.


The Province of Iloilo is the largest marshland in Western Visayas after the Sanderbans. The province is divided into two distinct geographic regions; the highlands of the Madia-as on the western border and the lowland plains which account for a larger portion of the province. Small islands east of its northernmost tip also dot the Visayan Sea - of these, Pan de Azucar and Sicogon are well-known.

Political Division
Iloilo is subdivided into 42 municipalities, 1 component city, and 1 highly urbanized city
• Iloilo City
• Passi City

*Iloilo City is independent from the Province of Iloilo, but remains the Provincial Capital of the Province.

• Ajuy
• Alimodian(know for the Agony Hill)
• Anilao
• Badiangan
• Balasan
• Banate
• Barotac Nuevo
• Barotac Viejo
• Batad
• Bingawan
• Cabatuan
• Calinog
• Carles
• Concepcion
• Dingle
• Dueñas
• Dumangas
• Estancia
• Guimbal
• Igbaras
• Janiuay
• Lambunao (known for Tinagong Dagat)
• Leganes
• Lemery
• Leon
• Maasin
• Miagao
• Mina
• New Lucena
• Oton
• Pavia (known for Sta.Monica Parish red church and Bagyong Frank.)
• Pototan
• San Dionisio
• San Enrique
• San Joaquin
• San Miguel
• San Rafael
• Santa Barbara
• Sara
• Tigbauan
• Tubungan
• Zarraga


The Old Capitol Building of the Province of Iloilo.
GOVERNOR: Niel D. Tupas Sr
Vice Governor: Rolex Tupas Suplico

Provincial Board Members: 

1st District
1. Oscar Richard S. Garin Jr.
2. Macario N. Napulan

2nd District
1. June S. Mondejar
2. Rodolfo V. Cabado

3rd District
1. Mariano M. Malones
2. Arthur R. Defensor Jr.

4th District
1. George P. Demaisip
2. Maria Shalene P. Hidalgo

5th District
1. Jett C. Rojas
2. Jesus C. Salcedo

Ex-officio Board Members:
1. PCL President: Cecilia A. Colada
2. ABC President: Jeneda C. Salcedo
3. SK President: Jo Jan Paul Peñol

District Representatives: 1st District: Janette Loreto-Garin 2nd District: Judy Jalbuena-Syjuco 3rd District: Arthur D. Defensor, Sr. 4th District: Ferjenel G. Biron 5th District: Niel C. Tupas, Jr.

As a leading province during the Spanish Colonial Era, the province of Iloilo is widely known for its beautiful old world architecture similar to that of Latin American Countries. Spanish colonial Churches are amongst the well knowned tourist sites in the province.

Miagao Church. The World Heritage Site. The Aztec-Baroque inspired church with Filipino botanicals used to carved on the facade. It is known for its intricate facade and pyramidal bell towers. The church was used as a fortress during the olden days. It is a massive structure built of yellowish Limestones.

Molo Church. The Gothic Renaissance Church of Molo was used as a watch tower to warn the people if there are any attackers on the shore of Iloilo City. It is a fine coral stone church with Classical and Gothic details. It is also known as the feminist church because of the beautiful female saints lining inside the church.

Cabatuan Church. This Neoclassic Church, known to be the most massive Hispanic structure in Iloilo is built of red bricks. It is believed to be the largest red brick structure in the Visayas and it was given the title "Model of Temples" by the 'El Eco de Panay'. The Cabatuan Church is known to be the only extant Spanish colonial church with three facades.

San Jose Church. The beautiful church in front of plaza Libertad is considered the most historic amongst the churches in Iloilo City. It is a Byzantine-Neoclassic Church planned to look like the Spanish Church of Valencia del Cid. The Church is known for its collection of priceless Catholic treasures.

The Historic province of Iloilo is also known for 'Calle Real'; a street of old buildings with their classical designs. During January, the city heats up for Dinagyang, the festival dubbed as "The best tourism event in the Philippines" It is a collection of tribe warriors dancing in honor of the Child Jesus.

Notable Ilonggos

• Teresa Magbanua
• Maria Beatriz Del Rosario Arroyo - BlessedRoman Catholic nun and distant relative of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo
• Graciano López Jaena
• Fernando López
• Martin Delgado
• Senator Franklin Drilon
• Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago
• Sec. Raul Gonzales
• Gen. Pablo Soriano Araneta
• Gregorio Soriano Araneta


The province of iloilo has extensive media organizations as it is the center of politics, education, culture and communications of region VI.

Software and WebHosting Company
• Virtual Assistant Technologies, Inc. (3rd Floor, Rosary Building, Iznart Street, Iloilo City)
• GMCI Online Experts (3 flr. Arguelles Bldg., Arguelles St., Jaro, Iloilo City)
• Everyone Technologies, Inc. ( 3rd Level, The Atrium Mall)

Print media
• SunStar Iloilo
• The News Today (Iloilo)
• Panay News
• The Daily Guardian
• News Express

Broadcast Media
• Aksyon Radyo DYOK 720 [ AksyonRadyoIloilo.Net
• BOMBO Radyo-Iloilo, the Flagship station of Bombo Radio Phippines,(The National Radio of the Philippines) please log on
• Radio Mindanao Network News 774 Iloilo - RMN Iloilo News Website
• BOMBO Radyo-Bacolod
• BOMBO Radyo-Roxas
• RGMA Iloilo Super Radyo 1323 Iloilo (GMA Regional Network)
• RGMA Bacolod (Super Radyo DZBB Relay) 1179 Bacolod (GMA Regional Network)
• GMA TV-6 (Region-6) (Channel 6)
• GMA TV-10 Bacolod (Channel 10)
• ABS-CBN Iloilo (Channel 10)
• ABS-CBN Bacolod (Channel 4)
• TV32 Bacolod (UHF 32)
• TV46 Iloilo (UHF 46)
• Studio 23 Iloilo (UHF 38) & Bacolod (UHF 22)
• NBN TV 2 Iloilo
• IBC TV 12 Iloilo
• RMN TV 26 Iloilo
• Q TV 28 Iloilo
• UNTV 42 Iloilo


EVEN BEFORE the Spanish colonizers came, Iloilo had a flourishing economy. In the 13th century, according to legendary writings, ten Bornean datus came to the island of Panay and bartered a gold hat (salakot) for the plains and valleys of the island from a local Ati chieftain. One datu, named Paiburong, was given the territory of Irong-Irong.

In 1566, as the Spanish conquest of the Philippines was underway and moving north toward Manila, the Spaniards under Miguel López de Legazpi came to Panay and established a settlement in Ogtong (now Oton). He appointed Gonzalo Ronquillo as deputy encomiendero, a position which would later become governor in later years.

In 1581 Ronquillo moved the town center approximately 12 km east due to recurrent raids by Moro pirates and Dutch and English privateers, and renamed the area La Villa de Arevalo in honor of his hometown in Ávila, Spain.

In 1700, due to ever-increasing raids especially from the Dutch and the Moros, the Spaniards again moved their seat of power some 25 km eastward to the village of Irong-Irong, which had a natural and strategic defense against raids and where, at the mouth of the river that snakes through Panay, they built Fort San Pedro to better guard against the raids which were now the only threat to the Spaniards’ hold on the islands. Irong-Irong or Ilong-Ilong was shortened to Iloilo and with its natural port quickly became the capital of the province.

In the late 18th century, the development of large-scale weaving industry started the movement of Iloilo’s surge in trade and economy in the Visayas. Sometimes referred to as the “Textile Capital of the Philippines”, the products were exported to Manila and other foreign places. Sinamay, piña and jusi are examples of the products produced by the looms of Iloilo. Because of the rise of textile industry, there was also a rise of the upper middle class. However, the introduction of cheap textile from UK and the emergence of the sugar economy, the industry waned in the mid-19th century.
The waning textile industry was replaced however by the opening of Iloilo’s port to world market in 1855. Because of this, Iloilo’s industry and agriculture was put on direct access to foreign markets. 

But what triggered the economic boom of Iloilo in the 19th century was the development of sugar industry in Iloilo and its neighboring island of Negros. Sugar during the 19th century was of high demand. Nicholas Loney, the British vice-consul in Iloilo developed the industry by giving loans, constructing warehouses in the port and introduced new technologies in sugar farming. The rich families of Iloilo developed large areas of Negros, which later called haciendas because of the sugar’s high demand in the world market. Because of the increase in commercial activity, infrastructures, recreational facilities, educational institutions, banks, foreign consulates, commercial firms and much more sprouted in Iloilo. Due to the economic development that was happening in Iloilo, the Queen Regent of Spain raised the status of the town into a city, honored it with the title La muy leal y noble ciudad de Iloilo, and in 1890, the city government was established.

In 1896, the initial reaction of Ilonggos in the outbreak of the Revolution in Manila was hesitant. Yet because of the Spanish colonizers blow by blow defeat by at first with the Katipunan and later by the Americans, Ilonggos later on got involved with the fight for independence. On the other hand, after surrendering Manila to the Americans, the Spanish colonial government moved their seat of power to Iloilo.

In October of 1898, the Ilonggo leaders agreed to revolt against the Spaniards. By December 25, 1898, the Spanish government surrendered to the Ilonggo revoltionaries in Plaza Alfonso XVII (Plaza Libertad today). Although the Ilonggos were victorious, the American forces arrived in Iloilo in late December 1898 and started to mobilize for colonization by February 1899. Resistance was the reaction of Ilonggos upon the invasion which went up until 1901.

When the American colonizers came, Iloilo city's status reverted into a township again, yet because of the continuous commercial activities still retained as an important port of call in the Visayas-Mindanao area. It gained cityhood status again in July 16, 1937 incorporating the towns of Molo, Jaro, Mandurriao, La Paz and La Villa de Arevalo. During the Commonwealth era, Iloilo was prosperous and was popularly known as The Queen City of the South.

However, prosperity did not continue as the sugar’s demand was declining, labor unrests were happening in the port area that scared the investors away and the opening of the sub-port of Pulupandan in Negros Occidental, has moved the sugar importation closer to the sugar farms. By 1942, the Japanese invaded Panay and the economy moved into a standstill.

During World War II, Iloilo was controlled by several Japanese Battalions, Japan’s ultimate goal was to entrench itself deeply into the Philippines so that at the close of the war they could occupy it just as the Spanish and the Americans had years before. However, when American forces liberated Iloilo from Japanese military occupation on March 25, 1945 the remnants of these battalions were held in Jaro Plaza as a make-shift detention facility.

By the end of the war, Iloilo’s economy, life and infrastructure was damaged. However, the continuing conflict between the labor unions in the port area, declining sugar economy and the deteriorating peace and order situation in the countryside and the exodus of Ilonggos to other cities and islands that offered better opportunities and businessmen moving to other cities such as Bacolod and Cebu led to Iloilo’s demise in economic importance in southern Philippines.

By the 1960s towards 1990s, Iloilo’s economy progressed although slowly but surely. The construction of the fish port, the international seaport and commercial firms that invested in Iloilo marked the movement making the city as the regional center of Western Visayas.
Iloilo progress has been halted and its development decayed since 1960s until the present due to incompetent and feeble leaders and has reputation for corruption, nepotism and political dynasty. The province even has the ugly reputation of crime capital of the Philippines because lots of criminal group and even petty crimes are being planned and done in the province and spreads throughout the country. The province development has been sharply declining since then leaping backward from progress instead of moving forward.

The completion of the new Iloilo Airport of International Standard in 2007 will enhance better business opportunities that will affect local, national and international markets in agriculture, finance, tourism and other vibrant sectors of the Philippine economy.

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