Categories
Iloilo

Oton

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.

HISTORY

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.

ATTRACTIONS

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.

FESTIVALS

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.

Categories
Iloilo

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 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.