ILOILO CITY is the capital city of the province of Iloilo, Philippines. It is the regional center and the main economic hub of the Western Visayas region. This is situated in the center of the Philippine archipelago, approximately 283 statute miles from Manila and serves as the gateway to the Western Visayas. The province comprises the southeastern part of Panay Island.
Iloilo is historically one of the major agricultural centers of the country exporting sugar, copra, bananas, mangoes, and other natural resources during the Spanish and American colonial periods.
In the 13th century, 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 chieftain. One Datu Paiburong got hold of the territory of “Irong-Irong” which is now Iloilo. For 300 years before the coming of the Spaniards, the place is already a flourishing settlement under an organized government.
The Spaniards under Miguel Lopez de Legaspi came to Panay in 1581 and established a settlement in Ogtong now known as Oton, Iloilo. Gonzalo Ronquillo was appointed as deputy encomiendero and he moved the town center approximately 12 km west due to recurrent raids by Moro pirates, Dutch and English privateers in the 17th century and renamed the area La Villa de Arevalo in honor of his hometown in Ávila, Spain. 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, weaving industry started that resulted to the surge in trade and economy in the Visayas. 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. However, the introduction of cheap textile from UK and the emergence of the sugar economy, the industry waned in the mid-19th century. The loss was replaced by the opening of Iloilo's port to world market in 1855 placing Iloilo's industry and agriculture 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. Infrastructures, recreational facilities, educational institutions, banks, foreign consulates, commercial firms and other business sprouted in Iloilo due to the increase in commercial activity. The economic development of the town prompted the Queen Regent of Spain to raise the status of Iloilo town into a city and in 1890, the city government was established.
Then in October of 1898, the Ilonggo leaders revolted against the Spaniards then on December 25, 1898 the Spanish government surrendered to the Ilonggo revolutionaries. However the American forces arrived in Iloilo in late December 1898 and colonized the city by February 1899. The American colonizers reverted the city's status into a township again, yet because of the continuous commercial activities it gained cityhood status again in July 16, 1937 incorporating the towns of Molo, Jaro, Mandurriao, La Paz and La Villa de Arevalo. By 1942, the Japanese invaded Panay and the economy moved into a standstill.
In the turn of 1960s towards 1990s, Iloilo's economy slowly progressed. The construction of the fish port, international seaport and other commercial firms that invested in Iloilo marked the movement of the city making it as the regional center of Western Visayas.
The total land area of Iloilo City is 7,023 hectares which comprised of 57.35% residential use, 8.21% commercial areas and 21.93% for other land use.
The City total population is 365,820 in 72,218 households with a growth rate of 1.93%, thus Iloilo is the 9th most populous city in the Philippines.
Hiligaynon is the prominent language spoken in Iloilo City. However, English language is also generally used in business and education Tagalog and other local dialects such as Karay-a (also known as Kinaray-a) are also spoken.
COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY
The strategic location of Iloilo favorably resulted in making the city the hub of trade, commerce and industry. The place also boasts of its excellent port facilities, extensive infrastructure, modern telecommunications system and reliable utilities. Iloilo City has a business-friendly local government that provides incentives to business in preferred investment areas. Identified investment areas offer attractive incentives such as income tax holidays and free issuance of permits and licenses.
Currently, there are 8,407 business establishments where 1,182 are new establishments. Total capital investments for new business establishments are P 365,506,020.92. The City has 40 universal, 24 commercial, 11 governments, 9 thrift, 1 development, 9 savings, and 1 Thrift/Government and 2 rural banks which includes branches/extension offices in the different districts. Average per Capita Income is P 65,036 and Average Per Capita Expenditures is P 51,557.
Iloilo is home to several commercial, savings, universal and rural banks. The city also has some foreign banks, three of which are Malaya, Standard Chartered and China Bank. All in all, there are about 112 banks in the city. Pawnshop and Jewelry stores can also be found in the city. Iloilo City continues to stride towards revitalizing socio-economic growth. The coming in of multi-million investments and the rise in private building construction and emergence of new industries give a beam to its business atmosphere.
Iloilo’s climate is pleasantly tropical with 2 pronounced seasons – the rainy season from June to September, and the dry season from October to May.
ARTS & CULTURE
Iloilo City has notable events that are yearly celebrated such as:
Dinagyang – This Festival is celebrated every 4th week of January. Señor Santo Nino is the object dramatized offerings and prayers. This is a colorful cavalcade in honor of the Child Jesus amid the cracking beats of drums, shouts of "Viva Señor Santo Niño" and thundering "hala bira" of tribe members. The culmination of the nine-day novena was the Fluvial Procession.
Paraw Regatta – A race among swift and colorful native outriggers in the strait between Iloilo City and Guimaras Island. Ever since this race was organized the Iloilo Paraw Regatta has grown both in size and renown. The race has become more exciting, colorful and inevitably a challenge to manage. The primary objective of the regatta is to preserve the paraw as a legacy from the earliest period of Ilonggo history.
Rice is the major crop in the province of Iloilo. Fish and marine products are also considered the main source of livelihood in districts of Iloilo, as well as Non-traditional products such as processed food, fruits and vegetables, gifts, furniture, and others. Traditional products include sugar, coco oil, and lime products, among others.
Hotels and restaurants abound in Iloilo City having a metropolis that serves various cuisines such as Japanese, Mediterranean or Italian food, Austrian dishes, Korean foods, German, Chinese and Thai dishes.
Famous local food in Iloilo is Lapaz Batchoy which is a noodle soup with pig entrails, liver and chicharon as ingredients.
The most predominant religion in Iloilo City is Roman Catholic. However other religious groups are also present.
LIST OF “BARANGAYS” (or communities)
Iloilo City is subdivided into 180 barangays which are grouped into six districts:
Arevalo (13 barangays)
City Proper (45 barangays)
Jaro (42 barangays)
La Paz (37 barangays)
Mandurriao (18 barangays)
Molo (25 barangays)
Iloilo has angle of a nose, thus of its old name “Ilong Ilong” which means nose-like. The City also boasts of its mountain ranges with peaks as high as almost 7,000 ft. provide natural boundaries between Iloilo and Antique on the west and Capiz on the north side. Tourists may visit various historical mansions, majestic centuries-old churches, unspoiled countryside’s and exotic delicacies. Take home antiques, handicrafts, art pieces and a thousand and one other souvenir items. Outdoor life includes a visit to the oldest golf course in the Philippines at Sta. Barbara, offshore fishing, scuba diving, water skiing and swimming. The more adventurous can witness and bet at cockfights on Sundays.
CALLE REAL (Downtown Iloilo City Heritage District)
These are old buildings constructed since the Commonwealth era showcasing the unique architecture of the downtown area.
The district is just 3 kilometers from the city proper. Old houses of sugar barons and Hispano-Filipino of the elite during the early times can be found here.
FORT SAN PEDRO
This fort was built by the Spaniards in 1600 and ruins of the war can be seen here.
Guimaras Island off the coast of Iloilo is famous for the Guimaras International Mountain Bike Festival. If you want more, head across the Guimaras Strait to Iloilo, where there is an active biking scene and a number of routes of varying lengths.
The belfry was ruined in the 1948 earthquake and later on was restored.
JARO METROPOLITAN CATHEDRAL
The Cathedral is just 3 kilometers away from the City proper. The Church houses the miraculous Our Lady of Candles.
LA VILLA DE AREVALO
This Villa is 6 kilometers southwest of city proper. This district is famous for wide array of flowers and firecrackers.
This is the River Port of Iloilo and named after British Consul Nicholas Loney, considered the Father of Sugar Industry in Panay and Negros. It was opened to international market in 1855.
The Church is 40 kilometers southwest of Iloilo City and was built in 1786. The place is included in UNESCO's World Heritage List.
The Church is 3 kilometers from the city proper and has unique architecture of Gothic Rennaissance and completed in the 1800s. The church was visited by Jose Rizal along the way to his exile in Dapitan, Mindanao.
MUSEO ILOILO AND ANTIQUE COLLECTIONS
The museum houses the rich Iloilo’s cultural heritage.
SAN JOAQUIN CHURCH
The only church in the Philippines sporting bas-relief of historic battle between Christians of Spain and Moors of Morocco in Tetuan in 1859. This is situated 53 kilometers away southwest of Iloilo City.
STA. BARBARA GOLF COURSE
The Golf Course is located 16 kilometers north of Iloilo City proper. This is a 37 hectares of golf course which is the oldest in the country as it was built in 1907.
U.P IN THE VISAYAS CAMPUS
This campus is 1,000 hectares which centers on fisheries.
Iloilo is accessible via plane which takes 45 minutes from Manila, 25 minutes from Cebu and 2 hours from Davao.
There is available bus transportation to and from Aklan, Capiz, and Antique. Iloilo can now be reached through President Arroyo’s Strong Republic Nautical Highway in around 19 hours from Manila.
By boat, it takes 18 hours at most from Iloilo to Manila, 16 hours Zamboanga, 14 hours Cagayan de Oro and Cebu 12 hours. Bacolod City is a one-hour trip many times daily. To Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, it takes 38 hours, three times a month.
It takes 20 min. by pumpboat or 30 min. by ferry ride or RO-RO to the island province of Guimaras. Fastcrafts operated by the Phil. Fast Ferry Corp., Weesam Express, Bullet Express, and Royal Ferry Services serve the connection between Iloilo and Bacolod City on a daily basis.