La Paz is a district in Iloilo City that was under the supervision of Jaro until it became an independent parish in the 1870s.
It used to be called by different names; it was “Lobo” meaning “needle” or “retreat” at one time, according to Spanish era records discovered by parish officials.
In the decree that separated La Paz from Jaro, it was given the name “Ilawod” to refer to its location downstream, that part of the river that spills out to sea.
The same document said it was also called Iznart once after the Spanish alcalde of Iloilo, Manuez Iznart, who governed from 1868-1869.
None of the three names prevailed because the inhabitants of the place chose to call it La Paz, after their Spanish patroness Nuestra Señora de La Paz.
La Paz church beginnings
The first priest appointed to La Paz when it became a parish was the Augustinian Fr. Candido Gonzales. He was followed 13 other Augustinians until the parish was turned over to a diocesan priest, Fr. Pedro Trano, in 1910.
When he started his duties in La Paz, Fr. Gonzales oversaw the construction of a temporary church and convent made mainly of wood and bricks for the Nuestra Señora dela Paz y Buen Viaje Parish.
From 1870 to 1874, he started erecting a more permanent structure from a combination of bricks, stone, and cement.
Fr. Mariano Ysar had this enlarged and completed in 1895. There were those who likened it to the San Jose Church in the city center but said it had a look and style that is its own.
The Nuestra Señora dela Paz y Buen Viaje Parish Church was damaged during World War II and the infamous earthquake of January 25, 1948. Only its facade withstood the man-made and natural calamities.
Neo-classical facade design
According to parish records, the convent was immediately renovated. It was another story for the church as its restoration work took many years, gaining traction under the leadership of Msgr. Melecio Fegarido in the 1960s.
The fully restored church was inaugurated during the May 24 fiesta in 1995.
A parish feature on the church described its facade as neo-classical with mainly dark brown bricks and white window pillars and frames.
Two columns supporting the triangular pediment are new additions as they bear the inscription of the year 1970.
As the population of La Paz grew, new parishes were also erected. Aside from Nuestra Señora dela Paz y Buen Viaje Parish, there are also now existing the parishes of Our Lady of the Assumption in Barrio Obrero (1962), St. Clement in Barangay Luna (1962), Our Lady of Fatima in Lapuz (1972), and San Lorenzo Ruiz in Barangay Caingin (1992).