Passi City prides itself as the “Sweet City at the Heart of Panay” because of its vast plantations of sugarcane and pineapple. Not known to many, the title rests on the foundation of a rich cultural heritage. It has its share of attractions and activities that are popular to local tourists.
The component city of Passi is situated at the central portion of the province using the Iloilo-Capiz National Highway. It is 50 kilometers away from Iloilo City. It shares boundaries with San Enrique in the north; in the south is Dumarao, Capiz; Calinog in the east; and in the west is Lemery. It has a total land area measuring 25,068 hectares that is politically subdivided into 51 barangays.
Passi City is populated by 80, 544 (2015 Census on Population) Passinhons. Market day is every Mondays and Saturdays. It annually celebrates its Religious Fiesta every 10th of February in honour of San Guillermo.
To get to the city of Passi, busses are available daily at the new Ceres Terminal in Barangay Camalig, Jaro, Iloilo City.
Three migrant Malayan Datus who were brothers were considered to be founders of an ancient settlement prior to the arrival of the Spanish authorities. The brothers Dig-on, Tokiab and Umawang established a settlement where the present Passi church now stands.
According to folk legend, the anme Passi was used to identify the place when Spanish foraging party came about an old woman winnowing rice. Asked by the Spaniards what the name of the place was, the elderly woman, not understanding the language, thought the foreigners were asking what she had in her hands at that moment. She showed them kernels of unhusked rice and replied pasi which was what they were in the local language. The Spanish recorded the name and referred to the place as sitio de Pasi.
Passi is considered to be one of the oldest panish settlements in Iloilo, it was converted as a pueblo in 1766 under the leadership of Don Martin Saligumba.
Passi became progressive, its strategic location made it as the center of trade and commerce bringing more investment opportunities. Its high income and population growth and a sizeable area made it as the first component city in the island of Panay, made possible through the signing of R.A. 8469 on the 30th day of January, 1998 by former President Fidel V. Ramos.
SAN GUILLERMO PARISH CHURCH is of Baroque architectural style. The magnificent structure of the first church and convent were built in 1614 under the supervision of Father Alonso Baraona. They were partially damaged by an earthquake in 1612 and 1787. It was reconstructed between 1821 and 1837. More reconstruction was supervised by Father Pedro Ceberio in 1856 and was finished in 1876. However, a powerful typhoon blew its roof in 1932. Massive buttresses support its front and back walls. An added attraction of the present church is its Garden of the Saints or “Jardin delos Santos.”
CAVE EXPLORATION is one the most popular activities in the area. It boasts of 16 caves namely: Cueva ni Musyo Cave in Barangay Bayan; Cuadrado Cave in Barangay Agtambo; Suhoton Cave in Barangay Agtambo, Tinay Cave in Barangay Imbang Grande; Bitas Cave in Barangay Imbang Grande; Erimnat Maya Cave in Barangay Agtambo; Irimnan It Maya Spring Cave in Barangay Magdungao; Santos Cave in Barangay Magdungao; Baboy-baboy and Amorotik Cave in Barangay Magdungao; Tubigon Cave in Barangay Magdungao; Ninfa Cave in Barangay Aglalana; Kweba ni Wening in Barangay Aglalana; Ibajay Cave in Barangay Bacuranan; Bita-ogan Cave in Barangay Bita-ogan; and Cabugon Cave in Barangay Imbang Grande. They offer both self-exploring and guided opportunities.
MIDWAY in Barangay Bacuranan is a one stop organic and environmental shop with a public organic farm that combines education, recreation and nature appreciation. Visitors can explore the farm on their own or with a guided tour upon request. It has a greenhouse with plant nurseries of popular local fruit-bearing trees such as atis, chico, duhat or lumboy, durian, guava, papaya, jackfruit, lansones, mangosteen, marang, santol, sambag, pomelo, rambutan, dalandan, bananas and mangoes. They also grow lettuce, basil, tomatoes, cucumber, rosemary and thyme. The area also boasts of its fresh market and restaurant where it serves breakfast meals, lunch and snacks only. It also has a convenient store and pasalubong center. Everyone will surely enjoy its garden cottages built closely around its garden of fruits and vegetables, fishpond, chicken house and its mini-aviary. Midway has spacious parking areas, a very clean restroom and is wi-fi ready. Midway opens daily from 7 a.m. till 5:30 p.m. only.
GIANT BALETE TREE stands along the sugarcane plantations in Barangay Imbang Grande. It is said to be the biggest of its kind in Passi, because of its gigantic structure it would take around 20-25 men to encircle its huge trunk. Though people believe that it is a dwelling place of a supernatural being, it has become an attraction for many who are drawn to its massive root system. It had become a popular spot to take souvenir photos and had served as a wonderful shade for everyone passing by the barangay.
PASSI PRESIDENCIA also known as the old Municipal Hall was completed in 1930 under Former Mayor Jose Paloma. This 2-storey white building with wooden floors houses the Passi City Gallery where it showcases old photos, coins and info about historic Passi. The gallery is joined by the Special Project Office of the City Mayor and the Population Commission. The ground-floor is occupied by the Post Office, Commission on Elections, Parole, City Registrar and Department of Agrarian Reform.
OLD JALAUR RAILWAY BRIDGE also known as the Watanabe Terror Bridge, it is one of the fewest railroad bridges left in the whole Panay.
MUSCOVADO CHIMNEY RUINS in Barangays San Antonio, Imbang Grande, Quinagaringan Pequeno and Agtambo were operating in full force during the city’s agricultural heyday. These ruins are a familiar sight to all driving along sugarcane plantations in the area. The muscovado chimney of Passi Sugar Central is the largest and tallest in the whole Panay island.
PINTADOS DE PASI is celebrated every 2nd week of March. The presentation foretells Passi’s pre-Spanish history from battles, epics and folk religion. Spaniards came to central Panay and found in the area heavily tattooed men and women, whom they called Pintados. The name “Pintados” is derived from what the native warriors, whose bodies were adorned with tattoos. They had a culture of their own, commemorating victories by holding festivals and honoring their gods after a bountiful harvest.
The festivity displays the rich cultural heritage of the city, incorporating tribal music and dances. The streets in the city are filled with body-painted dancers in patterns looking a lot like tattooed warriors of old. Guests get a glimpse of the history of the people that once lived on the islands of Panay so long ago. The festival serves as the last bastion of an unbroken tradition of tattooing in Panay. The festival keeps the focus on creativity — without leaving behind the character at the root of tattoo traditions.