Iloilo City is indeed a repository of ancient and historical heritage. Every visitor can not miss-out the iconic imagery that these structures impose on the viewers’ perception. The mixture of its colonial past and western influence is a unique feature of Iloilo City’s line-up of cultural and ar! s! c treasures.
The stand-out Baroque architectural design of Molo Church (St. Anne Parish) reflects the dominant influence of Catholicism in the Iloilo. From an early place used to be known as a Chinese Ghetto to the seat of Spanish authority in the south western side of Iloilo, Molo Church is astonishingly a surviving heritage of Iloilo City. It resembles the deep spirituality of the Ilonggos and an enduring legacy of majestic artistry handed down from generations to generations, from the complexities of a colonial past.
Historical records attest to the fact that Iloilo City had been a prominent place hos! ng the religious-political power of the Spanish Authority during the colonial period. Of course we can’t deny the fact that the first political structure of Spanish Colonial Power in the entire Philippine Archipelago was established in the town of Oton, Iloilo, (the site of first “Encomienda System”). So it is not surprising if a lot of districts in Iloilo City had been adjunct of this Center of colonial political authority. Molo District and Jaro are the most commonly referred to as the place of “Alcalde Mayor”.
The famous Jaro Cathedral and the prominent Jaro Belfry across it are among the monuments of religious heritage in Iloilo City. Until today, Jaro Cathedral still symbolizes and literally hosts the main Catholic Church’s hierarchical center of authority. The Jaro Belfry survived a major earthquake disaster some! me before the outbreak of World War II. Presently , it is a symbol of strong colonial heritage in the city.
Calle Real or the main downtown area of Iloilo City does not only host the traditional trading bazaars of old entrepreneurial Chinese families. Old Spanish Houses of the “illustrados” (the rich Spanish mes! zo families) still adorn its far end area along the road going to Plaza Libertad ( JM Basa St.) These colonial houses which age more than a century since they were first built have their counterparts in the old mansions of the Montinola, and Lizares in Jaro District.
The glorious and colorful history of Iloilo City is more vividly preserved in the monuments of heritage that continue to amaze visitors who come to the city. Written historical records may only possess the informa! on of the past but they can never take the place of living heritage as undying tes! monies of a people, their struggles, aspira! ons dreams and their cultural uniqueness. This is the living testimony of Iloilo City’s ancient and historical heritage.