Capital: ILOILO CITY
Area : 5,324 sq. km.
Population : 1,749,561
Cities : ILOILO CITY, Passi
No. of Towns : 42
Iloilo is on southeastern Panay Island in Western Visayas. It is bounded on the north by Capiz, on the east by the Visayan Sea and Guimaras Strait, on the west by Antique, and on the south by Panay Gulf and Iloilo Strait.
Iloilo City is a highly urbanized city. It has an area of 68 sq km and a population of 309,505.
Mountain ranges with peaks as high as 2,551m and hills from natural boundaries in the west. They roll down to a vast flat plain towards the coastal towns.
The climate is dry from December to June and wet from July to November.
A Brief History
Legend has it that the ten Bornean datus who purchased Panay in 1212 from Negrito Chief Marikudo for a gold salakot (hat) and a golden necklace landed near the Siwaragan River in what is now San Joaquin, Iloilo. Datu Paiburong was given territory of Irong-Irong or what is now Iloilo.
In 1566, Spaniards established a settlement in Ogtong (now Oton). In 1581, the seat of power was transferred to La Villa de Arevalo. By 1700, the Spaniards again moved to the village of Irong-Irong, where they built Fort San Pedro and shortened its name to Iloilo, which later became the name of the city and the province.
Irong-Irong” comes from ilong-ilong or “noselike,” which describes the shape of the strip of land cutting two rivers to form the angle of a “nose” on which the city was built. The province of Iloilo was created under Act No. 2711 on March 10,1917.
Iloilo is the homeland of the Ilonggos or Hiligaynons. They are a people noted for their hospitality and genial, unhurried approach to life. This outlook can tend toward decadence among the free-spending landowners who made fortunes in sugar during the late 19th century and whose fine old mansions still stand in the suburbs of Iloilo City.
Ilonggo refers to the dialect with the languorous, seductive lilt that the people
Commerce and Industry
Iloilo has been one of the top rice producers in the country. Other major crops include sugarcane, coconut, corn, banana, mango, coffee, and root crops.
Fishing is also an important industry, especially in the northeastern coastal municipalities. Bangus and prawn farming are big dollar earners for the province.
A regional agro-industrial center is rising in Pavia. Cottage industries include textile weaving (jusi, piña, hablon, sinamay), barong tagalog shirts and accessories, shell craft, pottery, processing of marine products, furniture making from rattan, bamboo and buri and cut flowers.
Each one of Iloilo City’s six districts—the city proper, Arevalo, Jaro, La Paz, Manduriao and Molo—has its own plaza, church and market worth visiting. In the city proper are Museo Iloilo, the showcase of the province’s rich cultural heritage, Muelle Loney, the city’s port, Fort San Pedro, a popular waterfront promenade in the evening, and Plaza Libertad right at the center of the city. Arevalo has fine 19th century houses, looms that weave jusi and piña, flower nurseries and Villa Beach, the nearest from the city proper. Jaro is an elite residential center with fine mansions around the plaza and antique collections selling pottery, statues and coins. La Paz is known for its bachoy served by restaurants around the market. Manduriao is where the airport is. Molo, the former Chines quarter, is home of pancit molo (a noodle soup), kapis-shell lamps and mother-of-pearl handicrafts and Asilo de Molo, an orphanage whee girls embroider church vestments and barong items for sale.
Each of the towns along the coast west of the city has its own old Spanish-built church. Tigbauan’s has a baroque façade, Guimbal’s is made of yellow sandstone and San Joaquin’s, of white coral. But the most impressive is fortress-like Miag-ao Church with a carved façade.
The towns east of the city lead to Estancia, the gateway to the cluster of islands off northeast Panay. The best known of these is Sicogon, an 11-sq-km island with palm-fringed white sand beaches, lush hills containing monkeys, wild pigs and birds, and clear water teeming with fish and lobster. Sicogon Island Club Resort offers various sports facilities, including wind surfing, water skiing and scuba diving.
Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo’s version of the commemoration of the pact between the Bornean datus and the Atis and the feast of the Sto. Niño, is held on the fourth weeken of January. The Feast of the Laday of Candles or Candelaria is observed on February 2 in Jaro. The Paraw Regatta held every third Sunday of February is a race among native outriggers in the strait between Iloilo City and Guimaras Island. Pasungay, or the Festival of Bulls, coincides with the town fiesta of San Joaquin every second Saturday of January and has bulls fighting each other on a hillside. The Carabao-Carroza Race in Pavia every May 3 has water buffalos pulling decorated bamboo carts race around a 400m course.
There are direct flights from Manila to Iloilo daily; the flight takes one hour. Other flights originate from Cebu; flying time is 35 minutes. By sea, travel time is 24 hours from Manila.