Iloilo is a province of the Philippines located in the Western Visayas region. Iloilo occupies the southeast portion of Panay Island and is bordered by province of Antique to the west and province of Capiz and the Jintotolo Channel to the north. Just off Iloilo's southeast coast is the island province Guimaras, once part of Iloilo but now an independent province. Across the Panay Gulf and Guimaras Strait is Negros Occidental. Iloilo's capital is Iloilo City though the city itself is independent and not governed by the provincial government of Iloilo.
According to the 2010 national census, the population of province excluding Iloilo City is 1,805,576. If Iloilo City is included, the population is 2,230,195.
Map of the Philippines with Iloilo highlighted
At the time of the Spanish conquest, writing was a new import and the use of organic medium such as leaf and bamboo, and no pre-Hispanic written accounts of Iloilo exist today. Oral history, in the form of recited epics, has survived to a small degree, with a few recordings made from the last known surviving binukots. But from these oral history and from writings from other sources, one can still glean Iloilo's prehispanic past.
The controversial origins of the people of Iloilo is said to be from the state of Pannai, a country occupying Sumatra. Pannai was a militant nation allied under the Sri-Vijaya Mandala that defended the conflict-ridden Strait of Malacca. The small kingdom repulsed any unlicensed Chinese, Indian or Arab navies that often warred in or pirated the straights of Malacca and for a small country, they were adept at taking down armadas larger than itself. They were successful in policing and defending the straights of Malacca for the Mandala of Sri-Vijaya until the Chola invasion of Srivijaya occurred, wherein a surprise attack from behind, originating from the occupied capital, rendered the militant-state of Pannai vulnerable from an unprotected assault from the back flank. The Chola invaders eventually destroyed the state of Pannai and its surviving soldiers, royals and scholars were said to have been secreted-out eastwards. In their 450 years of occupying Sumatra, they refused to be enslaved to Islam, Taoism or Hinduism but after the state's dissolution, the people who stayed behind inPannai, themselves, have a legend wherein the high-borne scholars, soldiers and nobles of Pannai, "fled to other islands."
At this juncture, Iloilo came into prominence, when the local settlement called Irong-Irong and was founded by Datu Paiburong [who presumably fled the fallen Sri Vijaya Mandala] after he and his fellows within the new Mandala of Confederation of Madja-as, bought the island of Panay (Which they presumably named after the state of Pannai or the shortening of the Ati word, Ananipay) from the NegritoChieftain, Marikudo. The Confederation of Madya-as eventually grew a powerful and strong naval presence that it rivaled the nearby states of the Rajahnate of Cebu, The Kingdom of Tondo and the Sultanate of Sulu when it came to wealth and prestige.
Spanish architecture can be seen in old buildings in downtown Iloilo. Chinese merchants and Indonesians were trading with the Ilonggos long before the Spaniards came. The ruling Spanish government encouraged these foreign merchants to trade in Iloilo but they were not given privileges like ownership of land. Foreign merchants and Spaniards intermarried with the locals, and the Mestizo class was eventually born from their union. The Mestizo offsprings of the local nobilities later emerged as the ruling class of the Ilonggos.
The town's fiesta is one of the most important events for Ilonggos. Almost every town (municipality) in Iloilo has a fiesta and festival celebrated annually.
Iloilo is also home to two of the countries cultural minorities the Sulod-Bukidnon and the Ati.
As a leading province during the Spanish Colonial Era, the province of Iloilo is widely known for its beautiful old world architecture similar to that of Latin American Countries. Spanish colonial Churches are amongst the well-known tourist sites in the province.
Miag-ao Church. The World Heritage Site. The Aztec-Baroque inspired church with Filipino botanicals used to carved on the facade. It is known for its intricate facade and pyramidal bell towers. The church was used as a fortress during the olden days. It is a massive structure built of yellowish Limestones.
Molo Church. The Gothic Renaissance Church of Molo was used as a watch tower to warn the people if there are any attackers on the shore of Iloilo City. It is a fine coral stone church with Classical and Gothic details. It is also known as the feminist church because of the beautiful female saints lining inside the church.
Cabatuan Church. This Neoclassic Church, known to be the most massive Hispanic structure in Iloilo is built of red bricks. It is believed to be the largest red brick structure in the Visayas and it was given the title "Model of Temples" by the 'El Eco de Panay'. The Cabatuan Church is known to be the only extant Spanish colonial church with three facades.
San Jose Church. The beautiful church in front of plaza Libertad is considered the most historic amongst the churches in Iloilo City. It is a Byzantine-Neoclassic Church planned to look like the Spanish Church of Valencia del Cid. The Church is known for its collection of priceless Catholic treasures.
Passi City Church. This is considered a militaristic church in that it was planned as a ‘fortress church’ and the proof of this can be seen in the massive buttresses which support the front and back walls of the church. The church was built to replace churches that had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1612 and subsequent churches that had been destroyed by fires.
Old Capitol building of the Province of Iloilo. A National Historical Site. The building was built with wood stone during the Spanish colonization. It served as the capitol when the civil government of Iloilo was founded in 1901. The National Historical Institute (NHI) formally recognized the Old Capitol as a historical landmark through a marker installed on its walls on April 11, 2010.
Stallion F.C. is an association football club affiliated with the Iloilo Football Association currently playing in Division 1 of the United Football League.