Iloilo Guide

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This mobile guide is a collaboration among Smart Communications Inc., InnoPub Media, government and private sector partners.

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ILOILO RIVER as seen from the view deck on top of the Iloilo City Hall.

Welcome to Iloilo

To make the most of your stay in the province, here's a quick guide for your phone or tablet. This guide is part of the Digital Tourism initiative by Smart Communications, Inc. Welcome to Iloilo. To make the most of your stay in the province, here's a quick guide for your phone or tablet. The Guide To Iloilo is part of the Digital Tourism initiative spearheaded by new media startup InnoPub Media and the country's telecommunications leader Smart Communications, Inc. with the support of the Iloilo City Government and the Department of Tourism.


As the river snakes its way across the land, it forms a shape that resembles a profile of a nose if viewed from above. They called it “irong-irong” - which is Ilonggo for “nose-like” - and this, according to some versions, is how Iloilo got its name.

The City of Iloilo on the island of Panay is the regional center and main economic hub of Western Visayas. The seats of the City and Provincial Governments can be found here.

Iloilo City Hall is located right across the historic Plaza Libertad while the Casa Gobierno or Provincial Capitol is on Bonifacio Drive.

The city started out as a small and haphazard grouping of fishermen's hamlets but by 1855, it had become the second most important port of call in the colony. Its rise in importance can be attributed to its trade of sugar products with neighboring Negros Island.

It earned the honorific title "La Muy Noble Ciudad" or The Most Noble City bestowed by no less the Queen Regent of Spain.

Historical accounts say it came second only to Manila in trade and commerce at the turn of the 20th century.

Iloilo City, today, is divided into seven geographical districts.

City Proper

This district is the center or heart of Iloilo City. Founded as La Punta, it became inhabited in 1602 when Spanish and Chinese residents from Jaro and Molo expanded their territorial areas.

Aside from the main government buildings of the City and Province, offices of national line agencies can also be found in the City Proper. It has the most service and commercial establishments among all districts.

In the downtown area is half a kilometer stretch of avenue known as Calle Real and intersecting streets which bustle with commercial activities.


Jaro or salog to the Chinese is the seat of the archdiocese of Jaro. It is the hometown of famous Ilonggo illustrados like Graciano Lopez-Jaena and famous poet-writer Magdalena Jalandoni.

Many of Iloilo's old rich families have made Jaro their home, building famous villas and mansions in the district that have now also become tourist attractions. Among them are Nelly's Garden, the Lizares and Lopez mansions, as well as several ancestral houses.

Jaro is famous for its fiesta, the Candelaria, which is held every second day of February in honor of its patroness, the Nuestra SeƱora de la Candelaria.


Lapuz got its name from the Hiligaynon word lapus which means to "pierce/pass through" because of its location. Once a part of La Paz, it gained its independence and district status on December 17, 2008. The roro wharf to Guimaras can be found along its port.


Molo, originally known as Pari-an, is a place where the Spaniards grouped the Chinese for easy supervision and taxation. It is home of the famous "pancit molo," a spicy clear chicken soup with shrimp or pork dumplings and thin flat noodles which has its origins in the Chinese. It is also known for its local biscuits.

The district has been dubbed the "Athens of the Philippines," being the birthplace of famous illustrados - solons, Supreme Court justices, writers, and scholars. Plentiful in Molo are old Castillan houses, ancestral homes, and villas. A beautiful plaza can be found in front of the centuries-old Molo church.

La Paz

La Paz, nationally known for its La Paz batchoy, was once a barrio of Jaro named Bagong Banera. It became a pueblo only in 1856.

It is the hometown of former Philippine First Lady Ming Ramos who belongs to the pioneering families Jara and Martinez.

Although many commercial establishments abound in this district, La Paz remains a good residential area because of its elevation. It has a wide plaza where football games are occasionally held and a beautiful red-brick church.


Mandurriao is one of three major commercial areas in Iloilo City, the others being Molo and Jaro. Along the Mandurriao stretch of Diversion Road, also known as Ninoy Aquino Avenue, are many commercial buildings, malls, hotels, and restaurants which have resulted in the emergence of a modern nightlife in the city. It is also the location of Esplanade, a park development along the Iloilo River that has become a popular hangout of tourists and local residents.

Villa Arevalo

Arevalo, the garden district, is the site of the earlier residential settlement. It is known for its flower gardens, traditional cloth weaving, and garden villas. It has a stretch of beaches, lined with restaurants that serve fresh and delicious seafoods.

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