Iloilo is a city of magnificent history and opportunities shaped throughout its existence. Still, it remains to be vibrant and culturally-passionate through its culture-loving people who never fail to dream big yet continue to preserve its rich cultural past. If you’re a true-blue Ilonggo or just a visitor of this exquisite city, here are 10 things you should know:
Are you Foodie? Come to Iloilo and tickle your taste buds.
Iloilo City is more than just the heart of Western Visayas and economic center. For visitors and travelers who are looking ahead to visit this vibrant city, it’s world-famous gastronomy, delicacies and food tickle the taste buds and palettes of many people. We have the luscious bowl of La Paz Batchoy originated in the wet market of La Paz district, the delicious soup-based Pancit Molo, the Biscocho Haus selling yummy Biscocho and Pandesal ni Pa-a in Jaro district, the Barquillos from Wewins, tastiest Queen Siopao of Roberto’s, the variety of the best seafood, chessy baked Oyster, Native Chicken barbeque in Tatoy’s Manokan, all of these mouth-watering menu sold in various mini-restos along the shores of Villa Beach and many other must-have keepsakes the brings the flavors of authentic Ilonggo cuisine.
Didn’t you know your grandparents were movie lovers? Yes they are.
Back in the middle 1950s until 1980s, Iloilo City’s progress paved way for the expansion of its bustling metropolitan where countless movie theaters started to mushroomed and scattered within the city. The existence of some prominent movie theaters such as Cinema, Regent, Crown Allegro and Rivera, among others makes Iloilo as the movie capital outside Manila. In fact, prominent film festivals in Metro Manila along with their biggest movie stars were brought in to Iloilo back in the heydays. The passion of Ilonggos for movie theaters simply shows that most Ilonggos are affluent and enjoy living in a economically-stable city because they regularly watch movies after work or during weekends with their family. Old folks even used to say that most movie theaters are full-packed during premieres of important Filipino movies. Back then, Ilonggos are very passionate with local Filipino movies which are a form of cultural pride.
Ilonggos take Banking seriously. Here’s why…
There’s a bank in almost every corner in downtown area of Iloilo City. The progressive business, commerce and trade back in the 18th century and the economic rise of the city in 1900s, Ilonggos are known for their thrifty and wise-spending attitude. Thus, banks were lining up in downtown area where most businessmen and old rich Ilonggos are ensuring they always kept their hard-earned money at the right place. Since Iloilo has been the most important international city next to Manila during the heydays, foreign exchange banks can be seen everywhere and large amount of deposits goes in the bank every day. In fact, most of the city’s present major investors were convinced to invest because Ilonggos are known to have big deposits in banks and financial institutions, something that transcends potential financial prominence and the right attitude for progress. Ilonggos are one of the BEST weavers in the world.
One of the reasons for Iloilo City’s economic prominence was the establishment of its popular weaving industry – sinamay, hablon, jusi and piňa cloth in later 18th and early 19th century. Iloilo became an international trading port for textile industry where local products are sold and send to Europe and other parts of the world. Textile products made from Iloilo were considered expensive and in-demand in the international market during the heydays. Such reputation ensured Ilonggos’ timeless ingenuity and legacy with their distinct local products. Textile industry and retail stores mushroomed relentlessly in Calle Real, the busiest business district of the city. In Villa de Arevalo, Sinamay production flourished as local weavers became more and more popular for their intricate hand-woven products that impressed investors and suppliers. The Iloilo Sinamay House, an antique heritage house in Villa owned by Guizon and Villanueva clan passed on to her children their family’s business. Before jeepneys, care for a train ride in Iloilo?
The company was originally founded in Hartford, Connecticut, United States as Philippine Railway Company Inc. on March 5, 1906. It was part of a collection of Philippine infrastructure companies. On May 28, 1906, the Philippine Commission granted the Philippine Railway Corporation a concession to construct railways on the islands of Panay, Negros and Cebu. In 1907, construction began on a railroad from Iloilo City to Roxas City in Capiz. It was later controlled and owned by the Philippine government as Panay Railways Inc. with headquarter in La Paz in Iloilo City. The original route the company’s train service was 117 kilometers (73 miles) long, included 19 permanent, 10 flag stations and connected to La Paz in Iloilo City heading as far as Loctugan in Capiz. It had a total of 46 bridges. The operation of the train service ceased in 1983 and its demolition started in March 2005 under the administration of President Fidel V. Ramos.
Photo from habagatcentral.com
Forget about shopping malls, Iloilo’s Calle Real is timeless!
Its existence dates back in the time of Spain’s colonial era in the Philippines, Calle Real is a long-stretching old business district in Iloilo City where most of the pioneer Chinese merchants and local business clans established their businesses. From expensive to the cheapest shopping centers, retails stores, boutiques, goods, textile products, medical supplies, restaurants, and street vendors selling almost everything are lined-up beautifully to cater the locals. Calle Real is known for its heritage buildings build during the Spanish and American era in the Philippines. The recent effort of the city’s local government and Heritage Council to rebuilt and revive the original façade of heritage buildings creates an echo of cultural pride. The sights and sound of Calle Real dramatically changes from time to time. Its long existence captured great memories of Ilonggo culture, business-minded nature of locals, the city’s legacy for trade and commerce integrated in its impressive international business relationship in the past. Back then, elegant Illustrados, well-dressed elites and the iconic Calezas used to roam around the streets of Calle Real, a place that even until now never loses its mark in the lives of Ilonggos as their first and true leisure destination. The city with over 100-year-old universities
Iloilo City is considered as the “center of education in Western Visayas” by having the most numbers of schools both private and public school. During the old times and presently, students flocked in Iloilo to gain the best education especially in tertiary level by having the biggest and prestigious universities. Iloilo’s two oldest universities who passed its centennial year or 100 years of existence but still going stronger are the University of San Agustin and Central Philippine University. Founded by the Order of Saint Augustine missionaries, the University of San Agustin was established in July 15, 1904 and celebrated its centennial year on 2004. Established in 1905 by American philanthropist John D. Rockefeller under the auspices of the American Baptist Foreign Missionaries, the Central Philippine University (CPU) has become known for its strong Christian foundation, competitive courses and a tourism-friendly university campus for its wide nature-friendly scenery and old buildings. CPU celebrated its Centennial Year in 2005. West Visayas State University is 113 years old this 2015. It is a prominent university with countless achievements to boast originally founded by the Thomasites who came to the Philippines in the early 1900s, it was a part of Philippine normal school system under the American occupation until it became separate and formally established in 1924. Iloilo Science and Technology University formerly Iloilo School of Arts and Trade (ISAT) and later became Western Visayas College of Science and Technology (WVCST) founded in 1905 is another educational institution in Iloilo City that existed for over a hundred years. The university is still fulfilling its vision of providing quality education from its laboratory high school, tertiary college courses and vocational-technical continuing course. What used to be Iloilo’s King of the Road?
Calesa, the traditional two-wheeled elegant cart pulled by a horse used to roam the streets of Iloilo City particularly in Calle Real during the Spanish era. They used to be the King of the road in Iloilo even before its transformation into a royal city through a decree by Queen Regent Maria Christina of Spain in 1889. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Calesas can be still be seen in Calle Real. But the popularity of more modern jeepneys replaced the existence of traditional Calesa in Iloilo City. Did you know that Ilonggos were the first to fly?
Iloilo holds the record as the first city to have a commercial airline company. 8 years before the Philippine Airlines (PAL) was established, Iloilo Negros Air Express Company (INAEC) owned by Eugenio Lopez had its inaugural flight in Fort San Pedro on February 1, 1933. The company catered to chartered and commercial flights during its peak years. The INAEC site airport was destroyed by 36 Japanese bombers on December 18, 1941 during the outbreak of World War II. Today, INAEC still exists in Iloilo providing chartered flights including medical emergency flights for private clients.
Didn’t you know your grandparents are shopaholics?
Since Iloilo City is prominently popular commercial metropolis next to Manila even way back during the Spanish colonization years, the city secured itself as a bustling commercial and leisure destination. Hoskyn’s Department Store located along J. M. Basa Street was considered as the oldest shopping center in the Philippines according to local historians established in 1877. It was founded by Englishman Henry Hoskyn’s under the business name “Hoskyn’s and Co.” It is the first store in the country to introduced “fixed price” policy in merchandising and the first known “store to sell almost everything from needle to anchor.” Right now, the building remained standing and several retail stores existed in the same location.
Iloilo City’s newest ‘claim-to-fame”- Iloilo Business Park
Reigniting the legacy of Iloilo City and opening a new gateway of opportunities, Megaworld Corporation, the Philippines prime mover in real estate developer set their sights in this city to establish Iloilo Business Park. Transforming the old Iloilo Airport (IBP) property into a bustling new commercial, business and leisure township, IBP is envisioned as the center of almost everything in Iloilo City. IBP will open a high-end shopping center – Festive Walk Mall, the country’s longest leisure strip – Street of Festive Walk, modern convention facility – Iloilo Convention Center, BPO Buildings that would serve as office and operation site for call center companies, international hotels – Richmonde Hotel Iloilo and Courtyard by Marriot and high-end residential towers sporting names like One Madison Place, Lafayette Park Square and The Palladium, the tallest and classiest among the three with 22 floors. IBP is seen as the grand destination that would uplift the tourism industry and modern lifestyle culture of the city. Employment openings in the IT-BPO sector in IBP are foreseen to rise up to 30,000 jobs in the next 10 years. Rapid infrastructure developments provide a life-changing hint in this modern township how Iloilo and its people, will embrace their city’s consistent rise to prominence as the region’s epicenter of progress.