Jose Rizal and Iloilo

Calle Real is one of many culturally historic sites in Iloilo that gives the city its distinct character. When Jose Rizal went off board the steamer Espana from Dapitan ending his exile, he undoubtedly saw how brisk commerce and trade was in what is now J.M. Basa Street. Enterprising landowners who saw an opportunity, built more retail spaces. Construction peaked during the Commonwealth era creating unique architecture of the old buildings in downtown Iloilo - Calle Real, Iznart, Aldeguer and Guanco streets.

Tribu Aninipay warriors dance to iconic deafening drumbeats 
 of Iloilo Dinagyang Festival held every third week of January.

The festival of festivals

Every year, the area is also the focal point of world renown Dinagyang Festival, a colorful religious celebration in honor of the Sto. Nino or the Holy Infant Jesus.


The event is characterized by street dancing of various ati tribes commemorating the conversion of the native Aetas, the early inhabitants of Panay Island, to Christianity, almost 500 years ago. The iconic deafening drumbeats, the painted bodies of tribal warriors yelling Hala Bira! the hallmark of the Festival of all festivals in the Philippines.

Iloilo Dinagyang Festival held every third week of January 
 features color Ati tribes such as pictured.

La muy leal y noble ciudad de Iloilo

I was born and raised in the colonial city nicknamed la muy leal y noble ciudad de Iloilo by the Queen Regent of Spain in 1890. Vestiges of the City's Spanish colonial past are everywhere. The Molo church which Rizal visited is a perfect example and so is the Jaro Cathedral. When I left the city to find work in Manila right after I earned my college degree, I'd worry about the preservation of these places. Over a decade later, I returned and made a quick tour of the city and adjoining towns. It is a relief to find that these cultural riches have remained intact to this day.

Indeed, as I write this, I feel inadequate to present Iloilo as I have seen and lived it. I feel I am not quite equipped to capture its soul. Perhaps, I should let this piece to hang for a while until such time that I could catch my bearing a la Rizal and so delight you with my very own Iloilo.

Ilonggo artists put 
 touches on  paraw sails to turn them into colorful works of art

Every year in February, Ilonggo artists join hands painting on sails of paraw or sailboats that participate in Iloilo Paraw Regatta.


Iloilo Paraw Sail Boats 
 Sporting Art

Sailboats proudly sporting art.

How to get there

Iloilo has a modern airport of international standards. Philippine Airlines, Air Philippines, Cebu Pacific and Zest Air, fly to the province daily from Manila.


Negros Navigation and Aboitiz shipping companies also ply the Manila-Iloilo-Manila route. Big buses from Manila through the ro-ro boats also allow travellers to reach the city and towns by land. The costs of reaching the city and province have considerably gone down because of fierce competition among the transport providers.

What to do in Iloilo?

Iloilo Paraw Sail Boats

Colorful paraws at rest on the shore of Villa, Arevalo, Iloilo City.

Unlike in Rizal's time, there's a lot to do not only in Iloilo but also in the entire Panay Island as whole. Just remember that the beautiful party island of Boracay is located in Panay. Here's a sampling of how to make your visit quite memorable and fun:


Trace Rizal's path from Muelle Loney to Calle Real, now J.M. Basa Street and complete a tour of the entire city in only 3 hours by foot. Don't forget to visit the Iloilo Museum.

Discover the fine white sands and beaches of Guimaras and of the towns of Ajuy and Concepcion.

Dine in Smallville, an entertainment enclave in Iloilo City's new Central Business District.

Taste the iconic "La Paz batchoy" and "pancit Molo".

Visit the century old churches of Iloilo particularly the church of Miag-ao, declared a heritage site by UN. Better yet, why not do a Visita Iglesia?

Go diving in San Joaquin.

Make it a point to attend one town fiesta at least. There's one happening almost every 15 days.

Request to create an exciting themed holiday for you.

What Rizal missed

Visita Iglesia


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