Iloilo is a province of the Philippines, located in the center of the Philippine archipelago. The province comprises the southeastern part of Panay Island with island-province of Guimaras just across its coast. The capital city of the province of Iloilo is the City of Iloilo, which is also one of the major urban centers in the Philippines. It is nicknamed “the Heart of the Philippines”.
Iloilo has always been one of the country’s most important provinces. Merchants from China and India have long traded with the Ilonggos even before the Spaniards came; evidences of this flourishing civilization are displayed in Museums and Private Galleries. Even during the Spanish and American colonial period, Iloilo still proved to be an important trading post. Iloilo has a beautiful harbor with serene and calm waters, safe for navigation because it is protected from the open sea by scenic Guimaras Island. This excellent port facility made Iloilo the center of trade at the turn of the century, with the whole world doing business in this port especially during the heyday of the sugar industry. In fact, Iloilo was given the title of “Queen City of the South” for being the Philippine’s second city, after Manila.
You can still see the old buildings that surprisingly are European and American inspired such as stately mansions, majestic century-old churches, and heritage commercial buildings.
Iloilo’s rich heritage is showcased in multifarious festivals celebrated in the city and various towns of the province. Dubbed as the “Province of Festivals“, Iloilo is proud of its nationally acclaimed Dinagyang Festival, together with smaller but similarly riveting festivities in the province, blends the pagan and the Christian in a street dance masquerade honoring Sto. Nino.
Iloilo is endowed with natural wonders. Highland attractions from the cascades and waterfalls of the mountains of Iloilo to rice terraces and heights in its hinder lands. Worth visiting are various islands and islets of Iloilo that abound with white sand beaches and ornamented with tropical palms. Experience breezy fun while on an island hopping getaway. Explorations in Iloilo’s northern coast such as the mysterious caves of Gigantes island and the sea charms of Sicogon and nearby islets, as well as the splendid silhouette of Pan de Azucar in Concepcion town herald quaint stories and enchanting folklores.
Iloilo takes pride in being the Food basket and Rice Granary of the Region owing to its fertile lands and seas that yield plentiful harvest. Rice is the major crop in the province of Iloilo. Fish and marine products are considered the main source of livelihood in the southern and northern Iloilo. Tourists will find many restaurants offering a gastronomic treat of fresh sea foods and famous Ilonggo dishes such as La Paz Batchoy, Chicken Inasal, and Pancit Molo.
Iloilo is a fast-growing modern city but has kept its old charm and unspoiled environment. Today, Iloilo is a popular convention and meeting destination, with its many first class accommodations and New Airport of International standards. Tourists will find sprawling malls scattered across the province wherein they can replenish supplies as well as their energies for the hectic sand-and-water environment that are soon to follow. Hotels and restaurants abound; a world-class golf course is located just outside the city proper in Sta. Barbara.
Iloilo serves as the gateway to the region. It is a stopover for tourists heading to the beaches of Boracay and Palawan and the nearby provinces of Guimaras, Antique, Capiz, and Aklan.
People and Language
People from Iloilo are called Ilonggos. They are known for their charm and sweetness that comes from the musical to nation of their dialect, Hiligaynon. You would not be able to tell if an Ilonggo is mad at you by the way they speak, which always sounds like someone crooning a love song to you. Kiniray-a, which is a dialect very similar to Hiligaynon is used in Iloilo’s country sides. English and Tagalog are also widely spoken and understood especially in urban areas.
ILOILO takes its name from Irong-Irong, the old name of the city of Iloilo, a tongue of land that sticks out like a nose on the south of Iloilo River. The Maragtas Legend tells the story of Iloilo way back in the 13th century, when Datu Puti and his fellow Datus, fled from the tyranny of Sultan Makatunao of Borneo and landed at the mouth of the Siwaragan River, now known as the town of San Joaquin, and eventually settled there.
At that time, people called the "Atis", who were ruled by King Marikudo and Queen Maniwangtiwang, inhabited Panay. King Marikudo bartered the lowlands of Panay Island for a golden hat, "saduk", and a long gold necklace, "manangyad", and other assorted gifts to the Bornean Datus. The latter then took complete control of the island with the "Atis" retiring to the mountains. It was Datu Paiburong who was assigned in Irong-Irong. Panay Island was ruled under the Code of Kalantiao, where peace and prosperity reigned for 300 years. But this was disrupted when the Spaniards came and established the provincial government.
As early as 1855, Iloilo opened to the world of trade and became the biggest port in the Philippines and premier province of the country because of various economic activities. Municipio de Iloilo became a city under the Becerra Law in 1893.
When the Philippine Revolution started, Panay uprising against the Spaniards was led by Gen. Martin Delgado of Sta. Barbara, who liberated all the towns, except Iloilo City, Molo, and Jaro. December 28, 1898 marked the arrival of the Americans at the Iloilo port, and on April 11, 1901, Iloilo City whose status has reverted to municipality, became the chief port and trading center of Panay and Negros. Because it progressed steadily, the Commonwealth Act No. 158 incorporated the surrounding towns of Lapaz, Jaro, Mandurriao and Arevalo to form Iloilo City and was finally inaugurated on Aug. 25, 1937, and was dubbed as the "Queen City of the South". Gen. Martin Delgado became the first governor of the province of Iloilo.
The Japanese occupation started on April 16, 1942. The Panay Guerilla Movement, the first resistance group in the Philippines, continued fighting the Japanese Imperial Army even before the American Liberation of Panay on July 4, 1946.
The Province of Iloilo occupies the southern and northeastern portion of Panay Island. Its' boundaries are: Province of Capiz and Jintotolo Channel in the North; the Guimaras Strait in the South; the Panay Gulf and Iloilo Strait in the East and the Province of Antique in the West.
The Provincial Seal
The Province of Iloilo was created under Act 2711 on March 10, 1917. The Provincial Seal of Iloilo had undergone various transformations over the years but the main elements remained the same and constant. The three mountain peaks at the top of the seal signifies the separation of Iloilo from the province of Capiz and Antique. The Carabao head on the left side of the seal represents agriculture and also signifies that Iloilo is a rice producing province. The Ship and Factory symbols on the right side of the seal represents commerce, trade and industry