History of Iloilo
Islanders live in an organized government and laws as the Codes of Kalantiaw until the 13th century, where Bornean Datus (Chief) came to the island of Panay and bartered a “salakot” (gold hat) for the plains and valleys of the island from a local Ati (Aeta) chieftain. Irong-Irong was given to a Datu named Paiburong.
In 1566, Spaniards under Miguel Lopez de Legazpi came to Panay and established a settlement in Ogtong (now known as Oton). He appointed Gonzalo Ronquillo y Peñalosa as deputy encomiendero (governor as we call it now).
1572, Agustinian Priests settled in Ogtong. It was then made the Capital of Panay and Negros.
1581, the encomienda in Ogtong was moved to La Villa Rica de Arevalo. The new capital was renamed La Villa de Arevalo by Governor Gonzalo Ronquillo y Peñalosa in memory of his town back in Spain.
1616, Fort San Pedro was built to better guard against the raids that are now the only threat to the Spaniards hold on the islands.
1637, Gov. Serbastian Hurtado de Corcuera made La Punta (Iloilo) the new capital instead of Arevalo because Arevalo was frequently invaded by British, Dutch and Moros.
1700, due to increasing raids especially the Dutch and the Moros, the Spaniards moved 25 km eastward to the village of Irong-Irong. Irong-Irong was shortened to Iloilo because Spaniards are not good with “ng” and the way local say “r.”
March 31, 1855, Iloilo was open for International trades. British Vice Consul Nicholas Loney established a company for sugar trade. Loney introduced new technology, that improved yield and quality of Iloilo sugar to world-market standards.
1859, the first sugar product was shipped to Australia.
1865, products are exported directly to international points from Iloilo, due to damages done by transshipment through Port of Manila.
1868, British firm was established. Calle Real was the place where most stock of goods are at prices far below compare to Manila.
The late 18th century, development of large-scale weaving industry started Iloilo’s surge in trade and economy in Visayas. It was then known as the “Textile Capital of the Philippines.” Sinamay, piña and jusi are products produced by the looms of Iloilo.
Mid-19th century, the industry weakened due to the introduction of cheap textile from UK and the growing sugar economy.
Infrastructures, recreational facilities, educational institutions, banks, foreign consulates, commercial firms and much more sprouted in Iloilo. Economic development made the Queen Regent of Spain raised the status of the town into a city, honored with the title “La Muy Leal Y Noble Ciudad de Iloilo.”
1890, under Becera Law of 1899 the Ayuntamiento of Iloilo (City Government) was established.
1893, under Bacura Law Municipio de Iloilo became a city.
1896, after surrendering Manila to Americans, Spanish colonial government move their seat of power to Iloilo. The City of Iloilo by virtue of a Royal Decree of 1896 was given the honor of having a Coat of Arms with the Inscription: “La Muy Leal Y Noble Ciudad de Iloilo.”
October of 1898, Ilonggo leaders agreed to revolt against the Spaniards.
December 25, 1898, Victory was acclaimed when Spanish government surrendered to Ilonggo revoltionaries in Plaza Alfonso XVII (known as Plaza Libertad today).
December 28, 1898, General Marcus P. Miller together with a Battalion of Iowa Volunteers, the 6th Artillery and the Signal Corps detachment arrived in Iloilo. They started to mobilize for colonization by February 1899.
American saw Iloilo taking greater roles in politics, industry and agriculture. With good roads, an airport and irrigation systems, Iloilo rose to be a major food basket of the country. Its fishing industry bloomed and was known as the “Alaska of the Philippines.”
Resistance was the reaction of Ilonggo’s upon the invasion that went up until 1901.
April 11, 1901, American colonizers reverted the Iloilo City’s status into township again.
1907, Iloilo has an electric-light plant, ice factory and cold-storage plant.
September 1907, The Manila Daily Bulletin reported that Iloilo City was “the metropolis of the Visayan Islands; the second city of importance in archipelago and the greatest market for sugar in this part of the world.”
Iloilo progressed steadily, it has retained as an important port of call in the Visayas-Mindanao area. The Commonwealth Act No. 158 incorporated the surrounding towns of La Paz, Jaro, Mandurriao and La Villa de Arevalo to form Iloilo City.
July 16, 1937, Iloilo gained cityhood status again.
August 25, 1937, it was inaugurated.
During the Commonwealth era, Iloilo was prosperous and was popularly known as “The Queen City of the South.” Gen. Martin Delgado became the first governor of the province of Iloilo.
Sugar industry has weakened and scared investors away.
April 16, 1942, the Japanese forces invaded Iloilo.
During World War II, several Japanese Battalions controlled Iloilo.
May 11, 1942, General Christie surrendered. Lead by Colonel Macario Peralta Jr., Guerilla movement was formed because Ilonggos refused to give in to the enemy. Guerilla movement of Panay destroyed Japanese news blackout by establishing radio connection in San Francisco, United States and Australia.
March 25, 1945, Japanese forces was expelled by Ilonggo Guerillas with the help of the weapons supplied by the American submarines as American forces arrived. The remnants of these battalions were held in Jaro Plaza as make-shift detention facility.
July 4, 1946, American Liberation of Panay.
By the end of War, Iloilo was hurt bad. Conflicts continued in Iloilo which led businessmen move to Bacolod and Cebu for better opportunities. Iloilo’s economic importance in southern Philippines was destroyed.
1960’s onwards, Iloilo’s economy progressed slowly. Construction of the fish port, international seaport and other commercial firms that invested in Iloilo marked the movement of the city making it as the regional center of Western Visayas.