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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cebu City, "Queen City of the South", A Misnomer




by Cornelio P. Panes

     The title of Iloilo as Queen City of the South before Cebu grabbed it is a misnomer. It was not intended to mean the premiere or leading city outside Metro Manila. This was how it all began.
     At the outbreak of the Philippine revolution, the Ayuntamiento (municipal council) of Jaro was the first to condemn, by way of a resolution, the revolution as "an unpatriotic act." The Ilonggo alta sociedad also responded to the news of revolution with protestation and outrage and evoked pro-Spanish loyalty. The Ayuntamiento of Iloilo followed suit and organized the Iloilo Volunteer Battalion.
      The voluntarios, as members were called, were recruited from among the private population of Jaro and Iloilo and the adjoining prosperous towns of Molo, Arevalo, Oton and Sta. Barbara, and the more distant northern and eastern pueblos. They fought against the army of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo in Cavite and Pampanga. Illustrious personalities like Martin Delgado, Quintin Salas, Pedro Monteclaro and Adriano Hernandez were among the officers of the battalion. The biggest financial contributors to the Ilongo contingent were industrialist Don Eugenio Lopez and shipping magnate Don Felix dela Rama.
      In the battlefield of Cavite, the voluntarios helped the Spanish forces in the initial defeat of Aguinaldo's forces in 1897. It was the most well-equipped and well-trained contingent on the side of Spain. They helped in the fall of Silang and Imus which led to the collapse of the revolutionaries' defenses in Cavite after a fierce battle for Zapote bridge. The Spanish Crown was elated with that Spanish and the voluntarios' victory. Queen Regent Maria Cristina issued a royal decree awarding the city of Iloilo the perpetual title LA MUY LEAL Y NOBLE CIUDAD DE ILOILO or the Most Loyal and Noble City of Iloilo "for its exemplary conduct and all its laudable action during the present insurrection, in organizing and equipping an Ilongo Volunteer Battalion..."
      Since then, Iloilo was known as "THE QUEEN'S CITY," a moniker for the longer title, which, to our present-day term, is the Queen's pet city. This is because Manila was first granted an almost similar title by the Queen. The title was decreed to be incorporated in the official seal of the city.
      Legally speaking, Iloilo has the perpetual right to the title Queen City by virtue of the said decree. But no Ilongo now is bothered if Cebu snatched that title away. It is a title that would perpetually shame us.
      In the 1990's the City Government of Iloilo unofficially removed the title from the city seal as can be shown in its printed letterheads. To make the removal official, the city council of Iloilo should pass a resolution removing the title from the city's seal.

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