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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Some Important Facts About The History of Iloilo and Panay Island - Significant Points During The Time Of Foreign Colonial Period

The Ilonggo voluntarios gather in Plaza Alfonso XIII (now the Plaza Libertad) and marches on the city proper on their way to Manila to quell the revolution in Luzon headed by General Emilio Aguinaldo 

The Ilonggo revolutionaries end the Spanish rule of Iloilo Christmas Day of 1898 

General Martin Delgado lead the Ilonggo revolutionaries in ending Spanish colonial rule in the Visayas establishing the Visayan Revolutionary Government independent than that of Emilio Aguinaldo's government and resisting the American forces during the first few years of American colonial period. He became Iloilo's first civilian governor under the American regime in 1901. 

Queen Regent Maria Cristina of Spain who bestowed the title of "The Most Loyal and Noble City" to Iloilo in 1890 becoming the Queen's favored city in the south hence the title "Queen City of the South".

Iloilo City Original Official Seal and Coat of Arms 

Some able-bodied enthusiastic members of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi's expedition reached the old towns of Halawod (Dumangas) and Ogtong (Oton).

The interception of Portuguese troops caused the scarcity of food provisions forced Legazpi to transfer to Panay in 1566. Some of Legazpi's men reached Iloilo and found the area generous amount of food supply. A community in Oton was established that year and Gonzalo Ronquillo y Peñalosa was listed as the head of the encomienda system.

Augustinian friars established a residence for their order in Oton in 1572 and eventually soon, Oton became the capital of Iloilo and Negros. In 1581, Oton was replaced by Arevalo as the capital of Western Visayas. The new capital was named La Villa de Arevalo by now Governor-General Gonzalo Ronquillo y Peñalosa in memory of his town in Spain.

Arevalo became a powerful metropolis. It was here that the official residence of the Alcalde Mayor of Western Visayas region and the Commanding General of Spanish forces in Moluccas is located. Arevalo became a center of trading (pineapple and jusi), center of commerce and also the headquarters of the Spanish military expedition against Muslims in Mindanao and the Dutch forces in Moluccas.

During the 16th and 17th century, the what we call now as the city proper of Iloilo is only a hidden fishing town surrounded by swamps. It is called La Punta or the tip, a swampy place with a path that crosses at the harbor up until Arevalo towards the long stretch of the sea.

In 1602 when Pedro Bravo de Acuña returns from the headquarters in the South he stayed in Iloilo and decided to build a fortification - the Fort San Pedro which was assigned with two company of soldiers to fight the pirates. The town is just bigger than the fort and its nearby barracks. This was named the second capital of the island.

Arevalo was found to be frequented by the invasion of the English, Moro and Dutch pirates who for several times looted and burn the coastal towns in 1614. In 1638, Governor-General Sebastian Hurtado de Corcuera ordered the transfer of the capital from Arevalo to La Punta or The Tip, the name given by the Spaniards to Irong-irong, Kinaray-a word which means nose because it shapes like a nose. On that year, there is a sudden influx of settlers in the place in accordance with the order of Governor-General Corcuera to all the Spaniards and Chinese to transfer there.

There are several battles which took place in the shores of Iloilo. The most colorful yet probably took place in 1618 against the Dutch in which event an image of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary or the Nuestra Señora del Santo Rosario was found.

The Dutch forces is aware that the Spanish fleet is in Malacca and thus cannot be used. There are some 60 Spaniards, a company of soldiers which consisted by the natives and people appointed by the priests headed by Captain Diego de Quiñones. Quiñones was first sent to Cebu and Manila where strengthen the defense of the cities and afterwards in Iloilo which has the weakest in line of defense. They only have four (4) cannons which fires cannonball which looks like pomelo.
The first sighting took place on September 28 with 10 huge ships with provisions of 400 cannons. Since Quiñones created some ignitions, the Dutch forces fired at awkward places. The next day they landed. The battle started when there at least 500 people at the shores. Quiñones was injured and ten (10) of its officials and were almost defeated. The enemy forces spent the night at the tip or Punta while the natives at the surrounding strongholds. The battle continued until the thirtieth (30th) of the month. Due to unexplained reasons, the enemy forces suddenly retreated without taking the time to bury their dead comrades or to get back their injured soldiers thus leaving in the shores eighty (80) wounded and one hundred (100) dead. The enemy forces sailed forth disappearing without any light in darkness.

The next day, Quiñones stroll along the shores to inspect the fort. He stumbled and fell to a pit where a box is located. When the box was opened, much to Quiñones and his men's surprise they saw the image of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary or Nuestra Señora del Santo Rosario. Nobody knows where it came from.  The Augustinians Geronimo de Alvarado and Juan de Morales organized a procession and brought the image to the fort. This is the image venerated in San Jose de Placer Church.

Graciano Lopez-Jaena - called as the "Demosthenes of the Philippines" due to his oratorical skills.

Santa Barbara - became the center of the revolutionary government in Visayas which was launched on November 17, 1898. The officials of the government appointed on that day were:

President - Roque Lopez
Secretary of Finance - Venancio Concepcion
Secretary of State - Ramon Avanceña
Secretary of Justice - Jovito Yusay
Secretary of War - Julio Hernandez
General Secretary - Fernando Salas

Governor General Diego de los Rios left Iloilo for Zamboanga on December 24, 1898 together with the remaining troops. He left Iloilo City in the hands of Alcalde Don Vicente Gay who surrendered the place to the revolutionaries. On December 25, 1898.

General Marcus Miller appointed Jose Maria Gay as the mayor (alkalde) of the city while Matias Ybiernas became the vice-mayor. 

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