Friday, 11 April 2014

Iloilo: Glorious Past, Promising Future

I was born and raised in Iloilo. This is something I proudly declare to everyone I meet. 

I love my accent, both for  it's melodic intonation and wrong pronunciation of Tagalog words. I can read and write in Hiligaynon, without using English slang as fillers.

Unlike some Filipinos, who choose to speak Taglish complete with an American accent, I love speaking in my dialect. I find it endearing when kids talk in Hiligaynon. It sounds beautiful. It's so unpretentious.

I am proud to be Ilonggo even if I am only the second generation from my family to be born in this amazing city.

This was a city beloved by the Queen Regent of Spain, Her Royal Highness Maria Cristina. 
Our seal bears the title she bestowed in 1896, "La Muy Leal Y Noble Ciudad de Iloilo" after the Ilonggos sided with Spain against Emilio Aguinaldo's armies during the revolution.

How can they not side with Spain? Iloilo was a thriving city since the 17th century. Back then, the city was the textile capital of the Philippines, producing fine quality of Jusi, Sinamay and Nipis.

In 1855, Iloilo's Port was opened to international trade under the supervision of Nicolas Loney. 

The 19th century saw the rise of the sugar industry. By 1873 my city has surpassed Manila in exporting sugar. Sugar from Bacolod were processed in and exported through the city of Iloilo.

Iloilo was the  "Queen City of the South" for over a century until we lost it to Cebu. Sigh. The aftermaths of World War II , the earthquake of 1948 and the great fire of 1966 slowed the development of this city.

Nevertheless, we remain a promising city with humble and thrifty residents. We are known to have the most number of banks per area. We save a lot. We don't buy lots of branded items. Go to the malls and you will rarely see ladies parading LV handbags.

I love this city. It's laid back, simple and humble and yet it silently boasts of its glorious heritage through its Spanish architecture.

I am very happy with the beautification efforts of Mayor Jed Mabilog. 

The restoration of the Iloilo International hotel is hopefully the first of many more restorations. I hope to see in my life time, the return of Calle Real to its once beautiful condition.

Another thing I am extremely proud of is the Iloilo River Esplanade. It bears a close resemblance to my jogging path in Singapore.

(Photo by Ramil Lumuag) 

Iloilo is such a beautiful city. If you have been to this place, you will understand why I love the small cities of Spain. They are my reminders of how gorgeous this city must have been during the 18th century.

It is my wish that we reclaim our heritage, clean up our streets, restore our buildings and reclaim our heritage as the Loyal and Noble City of Iloilo.

Still on Pause,


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