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Category: Iloilo


Guimbal sprawls in the heart of the First Congressional District. Despite the obvious rapid development in the area, a spectacular richness survives within and around it. It is one of…

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Guimbal sprawls in the heart of the First Congressional District. Despite the obvious rapid development in the area, a spectacular richness survives within and around it. It is one of Iloilo’s beautifully preserved colonial towns, located 40 minutes by car from the city. Boasting one of the largest, beautiful and clean town squares in Iloilo, Guimbal offers a unique cultural experience to its visitors.

This Fourth Class municipality is situated south of the province and is 29 kilometers or almost an hour away from Iloilo City. The town shares borders with Tigbauan in the east; in the northeast by Tubungan; Igbaras in the northwest; and west by Miagao. It has a land area of 4, 448 hectares that is politically subdivided into 33 barangays.

Guimbal is populated by 33, 820 Guimbalanons. Market day is every Tuesday. It annually celebrates its religious fiesta every 10th of September in honour of San Nicolas de Tolentino.

To get to the resort, one can take a Guimbal jeepney at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary in Barangay Mohon, Oton or at the Iloilo Terminal Market in Barangay Rizal Pala-Pala I, Iloilo City.


Originally, the name of the ancient Malay settlement was called Gibuangan, describing the point where the river connects to the open sea. The modern name Guimbal was derived from the Old Spanish word attabal meaning a small drum. The Spanish observed that the natives used the instrument to warn the people of the coming of Moro raiders who would come to capture the natiuves to be sold as slaves in Mindanao and Malacca.

Since then the Spanish had recorded the name os the town as Guimbal. The History of the Agustinian Order in the Philippines, a book of records compiled by Fray Juan de Medina, OSA., the appendix of which was added by Fray Coco, referred to the establishment of a convento in Guimbal, Iloilo in 1590.


ST. NICOLAS OF TOLENTINE PARISH CHURCH is of Baroque architectural style. The first church was built in 1774 under the supervision of Father Juan Aguado and was finished by Father Juan Campos. Its outside walls are of yellow sandstone. The church was destroyed in an earthquake in July 13, 1787. The church was reconstructed under the supervision of Father Jose Oranguren in 1893. He also started the construction of the town cemetery. However, the church was burned in December of 1895. Father Agustin Llorente restored the church and started building its tower in January of 1896.

The present church is of two levels. Its pediment was integrated in the second level. It has a semi-circular arch with a row of rosettes for its main entrance. The church was originally facing the street across which is the sea. When the municipal plaza was built at its back, the back side was converted into the front side to make it the church facing the plaza. It has undergone some reconstruction after it was destroyed twice, during the Second World War and during the 1948 Lady Kaykay earthquake.

BANTAYAN or Moro watchtower is one of the most valuable ruins built in Guimbal in the 18th century. They have lasted for hundreds of years with remarkable strength. The town has four such towers that remain to this day and are situated in the barangays of Nanga, Rizal-Tuguisan, Generosa and Pescadores.

TAYTAY TIGRE is a short Spanish Arch Bridge located along Rizal Street along the highway a few meters away from the town plaza. It is known as Taytay Tigre but four coral stone lion structures are placed in both sides of the bridge. These lions are believed to be the only existing medici lions (sculptures depicting standing male lions with a sphere or ball under one paw) in the Philippines. The arch bridge measures 4.5-meter in length.

GUIMBAL STEEL BRIDGE constructed during the American period is considered as the Longest Steel Bridge in Western Visayas. It measures 348.40 meters kilometers long and 10.50 meters wide. When you are coming from the town proper it starts in Barangay Bagumbayan and ends in Barangay Bongol. It is made of Pittsburgh Steel from Virginia, USA. The construction was ordered by US President Roosevelt and it took the builders 399 working days to finish it sometime in 1932.

AYAW-AYAW MONUMENT is a historical landmark which was built on a hill in Barangay Igcocolo. It has the life-sized image of Andres Bonifacio, the founder of Katipunan. The landmark was built on the place where the American soldiers had a bloody encounter with the Filipino revolutionaries.


BANTAYAN, celebrated every first week of April. Derived from the Hiligaynon word Bantayan or Spanish-built stone towers (rootword bantay or to watch or guard) used as viewing decks to spot the arrival of the Moro pirates by sea. Bantayans also served as defensice platforms to repel the invaders. The Spanish constructed many watchtowers to protect the town and parishes from the Moros alonmg the coast of Panay. The festivity’s background not only combines celebrating the few remaining Spanish watchtowers but also the practical function of the little drum, the attabal then used by the natives as a means to warn the community of the arrival of the invaders.

Highlight of the celebration is the dance-drama presentation of the battle between the natives of Guimbal and the Muslim pirates. The winning tribe gets to perform the re-enactment nthe following year as part of the series special events showcased before the dance-drama competition during the Banatyan week celebration. The festival was launched in 2003.

DISYEMBRE SA GUIMBAL CELEBRATION is a two-week extravagant celebration of Christmas usually starting on the third week of December until New Year. It is a tradition celebrated since 1975 and now synonymous to a merry, colourful, large-scale and elaborated rejoicing of the yuletide season. It includes musical and cultural presentations such as lantern parades, drum corps exhibition, beauty pageant, food festival and talent shows. It is to provide entertainment to the people waiting for midnight mass.

BARI-BARI is a Holy Week tradition of putting up 14 Kapiyas or Stations of the Cross. After the Holy Thursday and Good Friday processions, people do the bari-bari where they trace the route of the procession to take a closer look at the intricately-crafted Kapiyas.

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TIGBAUAN offers a relaxing, carefree getaway with exciting attractions from beaches, heritage areas, fun events and fantastic local produce. It is magnet for local tourists. Preserved landmarks from one of…

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TIGBAUAN offers a relaxing, carefree getaway with exciting attractions from beaches, heritage areas, fun events and fantastic local produce. It is magnet for local tourists. Preserved landmarks from one of Iloilo’s earliest town sites still stand in this place. This picturesque town is looking forward to welcoming you with warm hospitality and exciting attractions and activities.

Tigbauan is a Second-Class town south in the province of Iloilo. It is bordered by Leon in the north; San Miguel in the northwest; in the east by Oton; the Iloilo Strait in the south; and, west by Guimbal. It is located 22.5 kilometers or a 40-minuter ride from Iloilo City. It has a land area measuring 6, 062 hectares that is politically sub-divided into 52 barangays.

Tigbauan is populated by 62, 706 (2015 Census on Population) Tigbauanons. Market day is every Sunday. It celebrates its Municipal Fiesta every 2nd Sunday of January in honour of St. John of Sahagun.

Visitors can take a Tigbauan, Guimbal, Miagao or San Joaquin jeepneys at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary in Barangay Mohon, Oton or at the Iloilo Terminal Market in Barangay Rizal Pala-Pala I, Iloilo City.


Before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers, a previous native settlement had been in existence and this was named after Anthisteria cilleta, a certain specie of reed known among the natives as Tigbao. The pre-Hispanic settlement was known as Katigbauan meaning “the place of reeds” among its indigenous inhabitants which the Spaniards finalized as Tigbauan.

From their Administrative Center in La Villa Rica de Arevalo, Spanish authorities established “Pueblo de Tigbauan,” shortened from “Katigbawan.”


ST. JOHN OF SAHAGUN PARISH is of Mexican plateresque architectural style. The first church was built under the supervision of Father Fernando Camporredondo. Made of sandstone and coral, it was said to be so strong that it withstood a powerful earthquake in July 13, 1787.

The present church along with its convent was built by Father Fernando Martin in 1867. It is said to be a reconstruction of the “parochial church.” It is a one-of-its-kind in the Philippines because of the lavish piling up of its surface ornamentation especially with its stone carvings. It has floral motifs on its pilasters and spandrels. The main arch on the first level is decorated with a cherub with bent wings and an Augustinian emblem-heart, arrow and the episcopal coat of arms at the center.

The second level is carved with an elaborate niche which holds the statue of St. Nicolas de Tolentino with two little angels on both sides of the upper frame. The third level has the image of the Child Jesus.

In 1975, a historical marker of the National Historical Institute was placed on its churchyard identifying the site where the first Jesuit boarding school for boys in the Philippines was established. It is said that with the presence of Jesuit Brothers Pedro Chirino and Francisco Martin in Tigbauan, a school for Visayan boys was established where catechism, reading, writing, Spanish, and liturgical music were taught.

In 1593-94, Brother Pedro Chirino established a dormitory and school house for the Spanish boys near his rectory. In 1994, under the direction of Rev. Fr. Eleuterio Rojo Carton, the interior of the church was renovated with a wide array of carefully laden tile mosaics such as the station of the cross and the altar that bears Dante’s interpretation of heaven and hell.

SEAFDEC or SOUTH EAST ASIAN FISHERY DEVELOPMENT CENTER in Barangay Buyu-an was established in 1967. It is an inter-governmental organization that promotes sustainable fisheries development in the region. This 40-hectare complex includes various research laboratories, hatcheries, and brood stock tanks and caters to the information and technical services on bangus and prawn culture, with complete amenities and facilities thru their physical plant and sub-stations.


BURIHAN is celebrated every 1st till the 2nd week of February. Annually held in Barangay Bitas, the festivity recognizes the usefulness of the buri palmtree (Corypha Microclada) and defines its role as a major source of livelihood for the community. Derived from the buri palmtree are the buri, raffia and buntal fibers used to make ropes, fan, hats, slippers, placemats, etc. The centrepiece of the festival is the tribal dance competition which they celebrate with great passion and joy that even the names of the competing groups carry the processes of how these fibers were obtained such as Likyad, Luknit, Sasa, Karatel and Hilo.

PAGDAUG-SALUDAN is celebrated every second week of March. The name was derived from the Hiligaynon word salud which means the act of gathering or catching things or objects of value by using a container. Such word is also used in the act of catching rice with a kalalaw or catching fingerlings with a bamboo and net fishtrap. The festivity defines the primary income-earning industry of the town which was fishing and farming. This traditional harvest celebration is performed thru dance alongside the festivity of Pagdaug, a commemoration of the annual Liberation of Panay from the Japanese Military Forces during the Second World War.

Pagdaug-Saludan as a festival does not only recognize the sufferings and sacrifices of the locals but presents the abundance of the various local produce that symbolized the industriousness of Tigbauanons. Highlight of the festival is the tribal dnace-drama competition.

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OTON is an eclectic mixture of waterfront resorts and restaurants and local shops to provide for the desires and comfort of its visitors. There are all the services and amenities…

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OTON is an eclectic mixture of waterfront resorts and restaurants and local shops to provide for the desires and comfort of its visitors. There are all the services and amenities like that of an urban area without the crowds, bustle and impatience. The community typifies the charm and variety of activities to be found in the area.

The First-Class town of Oton is situated south of the province. It is approximately 10.2 kilometers or a 30-minute ride from the city and is bordered in the east by the district of Arevalo in Iloilo City; west by the municipality of Tigbauan: north by San Miguel; and the southern portion by a stretch of shoreline of the Sulu Sea. It has a land area of 8, 456 hectares that is politically subdivided into 37 barangays.

Oton is populated by 89,115 (2015 Census on Population) Ogtonganons. Market day is every Mondays and Saturdays. Its Municipal Fiesta is celebrated every December 8 in honour of our Lady of Immaculate Conception.

Visitors can take a Tigbauan, Guimbal, Miagao or San Joaquin jeepneys at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary in Barangay Mohon, Oton or when in the city, at the market situated at the back of Robinsons Place Iloilo.


Many people believe that Oton is a Hispanized version of the phrase “ogtong adlaw”, which means “noontime.” According to the story, the native gave this phrase when they were asked by the Spanish exporters as to the time of the day. Many people still refer to the town as Ogtong.

The oldest pueblo in Panay after Cebu and Manila upon their arrival in the 16th century, Oton became the seat of the Alcadia de Panay from 1572 to 1581. The seat pf government was transferred to la Villa Rica de Arevalo in 1581 thus making Arevalo the capital of Probinsya de Iloilo from 1581 to 1688. It was said that Oton was an ancient Malayan capital under Datu Paiburong. The seat of this ancient government was in Katagman, now Barangay San Antonio.

Its pre-Hispanic past identified it as a center of trading with merchandise coming from other parts of Asia. A source of pre-Hispanic culture can be established upon the recovery of a number of antique Chinese jars and porcelain excavated from several sites in the area. The most popular was in the 1960s when anthropologists Alfredo Evangelista and F. Landa Jocano excavated an ancient grave site in Barangay San Antonio and found a death mask made of very thin gold with one piece used to cover the eye and the other piece placed on the nose.


GROTTO WALLS situated on the left-side area upon entering the churchyard uses coral rocks from the remains of the old church after it was devasted by a powerful earthquake, Lady Kaykay in January 24, 1948. The grotto walls are engulfed by the roots of a humungous tree beside it.

WEAVING in Barangays Salngan, Cagbang and Lambuyao’s is a livelihood program where the ancient craft of hand-weaving, along with hand-spinning, remains a popular craft in these barangays up to this day. It is one of the most important crafts handed down from generation, and their indigenous fabrics of hablon and patadyong are admired for their sheer beauty, uniqueness and global appeal.

Oton’s flourishing weaving industry is one of the traditional industries literally woven around its histories and culture. However, production slowed down at some point in time because of better quality textiles came into market. Today, hablon and patadyong, a once traditional material, is being revived into a contemporary textile that holds endless opportunities for exciting applications.

SHELLCRAFT in Barangay Cagbang in Oton, Iloilo is a center for the producing quality shell craft products that will make that perfect holiday souvenir. Visitors can choose from a wide range of hand-crafted shell fashion accessories, curtains, jewelry boxes, lamp shades, candle holder, picture frames, table decors and many other items all handcrafted and made of natural shell component and materials. Oton’s shell-craft industry has metamorphosed into one of Iloilo’s top pasalubong items.


KATAGMAN is celebrated every last week of April till the first week of May. The festival name was derived from an older name identifyuing the ancient settlement of Katagman which eventually became Oton. Celebrated since 2004, it showcases Oton’s rich history starting from its pre-colonial settlement of Katgman and its role as a major trading emporium for indigenous and foreign goods.

The icon of the celebration is the Chinese Golden Death Mask worn by performers on their foreheads or as a mask or used as an accessory or hand prop. Seven (7) participating tribes are clustered from its 37 barangays.

SANDIYA celebrated every 1st week of December is organized by the Municipal Agriculture and Cooperative Office of Oton and the Oton Watermelon Grower’s Association (OWGA) in partnership with the East-West Seed Company to honor the many watermelon farmers of the town for their outstanding contributions to the community.
Oton, being well-known as a major source and the largest producer of sweet and juicy watermelons in the province supplies watermelons to may parts of the region. With this, an annual festivity celebrates the bountiful harvest of watermelons by the farmers of this town that also brings together the community and its visitors from all walks of life to enjoy and participate in various watermelon events.

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Casa Real

Patterned after the traditional Filipino bahay na bato, this historic building has assumed many names and roles throughout the years. It had been known at one time or another as…

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Patterned after the traditional Filipino bahay na bato, this historic building has assumed many names and roles throughout the years.

It had been known at one time or another as Casa Gobierno de Iloilo, Palacio del Gobernador, Casa Real, Provincial Building, President Garcia Hall, and Iloilo Provincial Capitol. Renamed Casa Real de Iloilo in October 2016, it is now considered a National Historical Site by the National Historical Institute (NHI).

When it was the seat of power of the Provincial Government of Iloilo, the old Capitol building had been described as an anachronism in Iloilo City because it is located in a highly urbanized city that has become totally independent from the province under the 1937 Iloilo City Charter (Commonwealth Act No. 158) and the Local Government Code of 1991 (Republic Act No. 7160).

A new and modern building beside the Casa Real now houses the Iloilo Provincial Government.

Best in its class

Construction of the Casa Real or old Capitol building was initiated by then Governor Jose Maria Carles who served from 1862 to 1867. After being suspended for a few years, work resumed in 1870 during the time of Governor Eduardo Caballero.

Engraving of the Casa Gobierno de Iloilo published in page 236 of La Ilustracion Española y Americana (Madrid), 15 October 1875 issue.

The Spanish newspaper La Ilustración Española y Americana reported in its October 15, 1875 issue published in Madrid that the Casa Gobierno de Iloilo was completed in 1873 during the time of Governor Enrique Fajardo. It was described as “the most comfortable and the most spacious in the Philippines“ during that time.

“The design of the building is similar to what is commonly used in that country for important structures: the ground floor, where the offices and agencies of the provincial government are found, is made of excellent ashlar; the second floor, where the governor resides, is built of wood and trusses and its roof is made of galvanized iron, “La Ilustracion noted.

Casa Real de Iloilo, circa 1900s. (Iloilo, The Book. Hong Kong, 1992. Page 23)

“With a floor area of 1,225 square meters, the building has compartments with fine lighting and ventilation and is surrounded by excellent porches and galleries. Its features make the Government House of Iloilo one of the best in its class…,” it added.

Built of wood and stone

El Porvenir de Visayas, in its February 1895 issue, took note of the building’s large and magnificent staircase with its fine and varnished wood and spacious meeting hall.

John Foreman, in his book The Philippine Islands, described the Casa Real as “built of wood and stone, of good style and in a fair condition, with quite the appearance of an official residence.”

Provincial Building of Iloilo, circa 1910s.

“Before it is a semicircular garden, and in front of this there is a round fenced-in plot, in the middle of which stands a flag-staff,“ he added.

On December 27, 1907, Governor Benito Lopez was shot four times in his office at the left wing of the Provincial Building of Iloilo. He died 24 days later at the Iloilo Mission Hospital. The suspected assailant, Joaquin Gil, was a supporter of Francisco Jalandoni whom Lopez, father of business tycoons Eugenio and Fernando, defeated in the elections two months earlier.

Renovation works

Casa Real underwent renovation by the Insular Government in 1910. The building’s second level was reconstructed using concrete.

The Quarterly Bulletin of the Bureau of Public Works reported in 1913 that further improvements were made on the building using a P50,000 loan acquired by the Provincial Government of Iloilo.

Delegates of the Taft Mission to Asia greet the crowd from the balcony of the Provincial Building of Iloilo, August 1905. [Smithsonian Institution Research Information System]

The flag-staff in front of the building gave way to the Arroyo Fountain in 1927, when then Governor Jose Ledesma had it built in honor of Senator Jose Maria Arroyo who authored the law creating the Iloilo Metropolitan Water Works.

Japanese headquarters

During World War II, the Provincial Building of Iloilo was also used as the seat of the puppet government as it was where Dr. Fermin Caram, the Japanese-appointed governor, held office.

In 1960, then Governor Jose Zulueta remodelled the building, providing a canopy-like structure in its facade and an extension at the back to house courtrooms. The next year, he issued Executive Order No. 4-z that changed the building’s name to Provincial Capitol of Iloilo.

Prior to this, Zulueta came out with Executive Order No. 3-z which named the Session Hall of the provincial building as “President Garcia Hall.” The name was “to be placed at the back portion of the aforesaid Session Hall facing Iznart Street, Iloilo City.”

Arroyo Fountain, circa 1930s.

Renaming mistake

A mix-up in the execution of Zulueta’s orders resulted in the President Garcia Hall sign instead of Provincial Capitol of Iloilo getting placed at the provincial building’s facade instead.

On April 5, 1961, former Iloilo City chief of police Captain Patricio Miguel instituted mandamus proceedings in the lower court against Zulueta and then district engineer Ricardo Tancinco, alleging that the naming of the provincial building after a living person was not only prohibited by Republic Act 1059 but was also prejudicial to his rights, dignity, and self-respect as a taxpayer and a law-abiding citizen.

President Garcia Hall, c. 1960s

Carlos Garcia, who was president from March 17, 1957 to December 30, 1960, was still alive then, and the lower court ruled in favor of Miguel. (Garcia passed away on June 14, 1971 at the age of 74 in Tagbilaran City).

The case reached the Supreme Court, which affirmed the decision of the lower court on April 30, 1966. The SC noted that the lower court did not rule on the legality of EO 3-z but in its implementation.

Provincial Building of Iloilo (far right) as seen from Iznart Street, circa 1920s

American-era architecture

On November 4, 1998, a fire of unknown origin hit the Provincial Capitol of Iloilo, damaging its extension at the back leaving only the main building. This resulted in the construction of a new six-storey Provincial Capitol of Iloilo initiated by Gov. Arthur D. Defensor, Sr. that now stands behind the historic building.

The Provincial Capitol of Iloilo on fire, 4 November 1998.

On April 11, 2010, the National Historical Institute (NHI) declared the Provincial Capitol of Iloilo a historical landmark.

The restoration of the Provincial Capitol of Iloilo to its American-era architecture started in 2012, making it the provincial government’s major contribution to tourism and its resounding answer to the call for cultural heritage conservation.

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