Governor Arthur Defensor asked provincial government employees to renew their commitment to public service every time the Province of Iloilo marks its founding anniversary.
"The real essence of celebrating the founding anniversary of the Province of Iloilo is for us to remember that we are here to serve," he stressed as he opened the Semana sang Iloilo. "We joined the provincial government not only for our personal needs or personal reasons but because we are here for a better, higher and nobler reason, and that is to serve with honesty and accountability," he added.
The civil government of Iloilo was established on April 11, 1901 under the American regime. That was also the first time that an Ilonggo — Martin Delgado — became the chief executive of the province.
Defensor also extolled the achievements of the provincial government, having been awarded with the Seal of Good Local Governance and having been adjudged as the Best Performing Province by the Department of the Interior and Local Government. "We should celebrate because we have reasons to celebrate," he said. "We have done much because we have given our people a new government, a government for all and not only for a selected few."
April 11 was adopted as the "Kaadlawan sang Iloilo" in 1976 by virtue of Resolution No. 237 passed by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan which declared its observation as such from 1977 and in every year thereafter. "As we remember, we have reasons to remember because we believe that after serving this government, we will be leaving footprints cast in stones and not in the sands where they can be easily washed by the waves," Defensor said.
"We will be leaving footprints in the hearts and minds of the Ilonggos," he said during the opening ceremonies that came after a flag-raising ceremony and a liturgical celebration. He said the founding anniversary of Iloilo should inspire provincial government employees as they continue to blaze the trail for a new kind of government, one that addresses the needs of everyone.
"We have received so many awards in the past six years," he noted. "We will continue to perform with excellence, with devotion and with a high sense of duty not for ourselves but for the people of the Province of Iloilo."
Iloilo was first organized in 1569 by Spanish colonizers as the Alcaldia de Panay with Oton as its capital, later renamed Provincia de Oton.
In 1582, the capital was moved to Arevalo where it remained for two centuries. Its size, however, shrunk when the province of Capiz was established in 1716.
In 1790, the capital was moved to the town of Iloilo and since then, the name Provincia de Iloilo was adopted and used in official Spanish documents. Its size reduced further when the province of Antique was created in 1796.
However, the exact date of the establishment of the Alcaldia de Panay or the Provincia de Iloilo cannot be determined from extant records in the National Archives or elsewhere in the country. Only April 11, 1901 turned out to be certain.