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This article is about the Philippine province. For other uses, see Iloilo (disambiguation).
Province of Iloilo



Map of the Philippines with Iloilo highlighted
Coordinates: 11°00′N 122°40′E / 11.000°N 122.667°E / 11.000; 122.667Coordinates: 11°00′N 122°40′E / 11.000°N 122.667°E / 11.000; 122.667
Country Philippines
Region Western Visayas (Region VI)
Founded 1566
Capital Iloilo City
 • Type Province of the Philippines
 • Governor Arthur Defensor, Sr. (Liberal)
 • Vice Governor Raul Tupas (Liberal)
 • Total 5,079.17 km2 (1,961.08 sq mi)
Area rank 23rd out of 81
Population (2010)
 • Total 1,805,576
 • Rank 11th out of 81
 • Density 360/km2 (920/sq mi)
 • Density rank 14th out of 81
  Excluding Iloilo City
 • Independent cities 1
 • Component cities 1
 • Municipalities 42
 • Barangays 1,721
including independent cities: 1,901
 • Districts 1st to 5th districts of Iloilo
including independent cities: Lone district of Iloilo City
Time zone PHT (UTC+8)
ZIP code 5000 to 5043
Dialing code 33
ISO 3166 code PH-ILI
Spoken languages Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a, Capiznon, Tagalog, English

Iloilo is a province of the Philippines located in the Western Visayas region. Iloilo occupies the southeast portion of Panay Island and is bordered by province of Antique to the west and province of Capiz and the Jintotolo Channel to the north. Just off Iloilo's southeast coast is the island province Guimaras, once part of Iloilo but now an independent province. Across the Panay Gulf and Guimaras Strait is Negros Occidental. Iloilo's capital is Iloilo City though the city itself is independent and not governed by the provincial government of Iloilo.

According to the 2010 national census, the population of province excluding Iloilo City is 1,805,576. If Iloilo City is included, the population is 2,230,195.


At the time of the Spanish conquest, writing was a new import and the use of organic medium such as leaf and bamboo, and no pre-Hispanic written accounts of Iloilo exist today. Oral history, in the form of recited epics, has survived to a small degree, with a few recordings made from the last known surviving binukots. But from these oral history and from writings from other sources, one can still glean Iloilo's prehispanic past.

The controversial origins of the people of Iloilo is said[by whom?] to be from the state of Pannai, a country occupying Sumatra. Pannai was a militant nation allied under the Sri-Vijaya Mandala that defended the conflict-ridden Strait of Malacca. The small kingdom repulsed any unlicensed Chinese, Indian or Arab navies that often warred in or pirated the straights of Malacca and for a small country, they were adept at taking down armadas larger than itself. They were successful in policing and defending the straights of Malacca for the Mandala of Sri-Vijaya until the Chola invasion of Srivijaya occurred, wherein a surprise attack from behind, originating from the occupied capital, rendered the militant-state of Pannai vulnerable from an unprotected assault from the back flank. The Chola invaders eventually destroyed the state of Pannai and its surviving soldiers, royals and scholars were said to have been secreted-out eastwards. In their 450 years of occupying Sumatra, they refused to be enslaved to Islam, Taoism or Hinduism but after the state's dissolution, the people who stayed behind in Pannai, themselves, have a legend wherein the high-borne scholars, soldiers and nobles of Pannai, "fled to other islands."

At this juncture, Iloilo came into prominence, when the local settlement called Irong-Irong and was founded by Datu Paiburong [who presumably fled the fallen Sri Vijaya Mandala] after he and his fellows within the new Mandala of Confederation of Madja-as, bought the island of Panay (Which they presumably named after the state of Pannai or the shortening of the Ati word, Ananipay) from the Negrito Chieftain, Marikudo. The Confederation of Madya-as eventually grew a powerful and strong naval presence that it rivaled the nearby states of the Rajahnate of Cebu, The Kingdom of Tondo and the Sultanate of Sulu when it came to wealth and prestige.

Left to right: Images from the Boxer Codex illustrating an ancient kadatuan or tumao of the Visayans of Panay wearing the distinctive colors of their social status: [1] a noble couple and [2] a royal couple. The wealth and prestige of these Visayans from Panay are clearly demonstrated vis-a-vis their loin-cloth wearing Cebuano neighbors which the Spaniards called "Pintados" or "Tattooed Ones"

By 1612, this state had grown so powerful militarily and economically, their naval power regularly threatened Chinese Imperial shipping. So much so, that the Chuan-chou gazeeter specifically reported that the Pisheya (Bisaya) [Another term for people from Iloilo] consistently made devastating raids against the Empire's commerce

Nevertheless Spain eventually succeeded on conquering of the island of Panay when Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi moved his headquarters from the island of Cebu and creating the first Spanish settlement in the island in Ogtong in 1566. This is mainly due in part to the rivalries between the Bisaya and Moro, of which the former found an ally in Spanish against the latter. The Bisaya accepted alliances with Spain, to defend themselves against the enslaving Moros. In 1581, the encomienda in Ogtong was moved to La Villa Rica de Arevalo, because of frequent coastal raids by Moro and Dutch privateers, this was again moved near the mouth of the Irong-irong river founding what is now Iloilo City and constructing Fort San Pedro to defend it in 1616.

Nevertheless, the area itself began to prosper, due its successful textile and sugar industry. As a result, it received Chinese immigrants from the west (that worked for its trades) and Latinos from the ports of Mexico in the east (to man its military installations). And over time Iloilo grew to be the most important province outside Manila.

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 (The Most Loyal and Noble City) in reward for its loyalty to Spain during the Philippine uprising. Over time, this made Iloilo the "Queen's Favored City in the South" or simply "Queen's City of the South" (A name mistakenly appropriated for Cebu). During the American period, Iloilo then became a home to many firsts: including the first department stores and cinemas in the country. Nevertheless, Iloilo experienced a fall from grace after it was severely devastated in World War II and then had a decline during the 1950s-2000s. In part due to the great Iloilo fire which ruined the economy and the slow death of the sugar and textile industries that eventually impelled the Lopez, Araneta, De Rama, Sy and Arroyo families (Iloilo then, had the highest concentration of millionaires outside Manila) to abandon the city to go to other areas such as Cebu, Bacolod and the National Capital. Still, the large Middle-Class populace of Iloilo and its agri-business sector has managed to maintain the province despite the exodus of its prominent families.


Political map of Iloilo

The province is divided into two distinct geographic regions; the highlands of the Madia-as on the western border and the lowland plains which account for a larger portion of the province. Small islands east of its northernmost tip also dot the Visayan Sea - of these, Pan de Azucar and Sicogon are well-known.

The Province of Iloilo has the largest marshland in Western Visayas after the Sanderbans.


Iloilo is subdivided into 42 municipalities, one component city, and one highly urbanized city


  • Iloilo City (independent from Iloilo province, but remains the capital of the province)
  • Passi City (the first and only component city in the province)



Climate data for Iloilo, Philippines — NOAA Station Id: PH98637
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 29.7
Daily mean °C (°F) 26.1
Average low °C (°F) 22.7
Rainfall mm (inches) 39.9
 % humidity 82 80 75 73 77 82 85 85 85 84 84 83 81.25
Source: "Climate (Average Weather) Data". Retrieved March 13, 2011. 


Population census of Iloilo
Year Pop.   ±% p.a.  
1990 1,337,981 —    
1995 1,415,022 +1.13%
2000 1,559,182 +1.96%
2007 1,691,878 +1.17%
2010 1,805,576 +2.19%
Excluding Iloilo City
Source: National Statistics Office

People from Iloilo are called Ilonggos. There are two local languages spoken in the province: Hiligaynon sometimes called Ilonggo, and Kinaray-a. Hiligaynon and variants of it are spoken in Iloilo city and a few towns of the province. Spanish is strictly a local language, at least in a historical way with the number of natural Spanish speakers strongly declining after WWII, and due to this, there are today many Ilonggos who do not consider it a local language.


The Ten Commandments in Hiligaynon, the language of Panay.

Hiligaynon (informally referred to as Ilonggo) is an Austronesian language spoken in Western Visayas in the Philippines. Hiligaynon is concentrated in the city of Iloilo and westside of Negros Occidental province. It is also spoken in the other provinces in Panay island, such as Capiz, Antique, Aklan, Guimaras, and many parts of Mindanao like Koronadal City, South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Kidapawan City and Cotabato City and also in some parts of Maguindanao municipalities of Datu Paglas, Buluan and Mangudadatu as well. (It is spoken as a second language by Karay-a in Antique, Aklanon and Malaynon in Aklan, Cebuano in Siquijor, and Capiznon in Capiz.). There are approximately 7,000,000 people in and outside the Philippines who are native speakers of Hiligaynon, and an additional 4,000,000 who are capable of speaking it with a substantial degree of proficiency.

The language is referred to as Ilonggo in Negros Occidental and in Iloilo. More precisely, Ilonggo is an ethnoliguistic group referring to the people living in Panay and the culture associated with the people speaking Hiligaynon. The boundaries of the dialect called Ilonggo and that called Hiligaynon are unclear. The disagreement of where what name is correct extends to Philippine language specialists and native laymen.


Spanish architecture can be seen in old buildings in downtown Iloilo. Chinese merchants and Indonesians were trading with the Ilonggos long before the Spaniards came. The ruling Spanish government encouraged these foreign merchants to trade in Iloilo but they were not given privileges like ownership of land. Foreign merchants and Spaniards intermarried with the locals, and the Mestizo class was eventually born from their union. The Mestizo offsprings of the local nobilities later emerged as the ruling class of the Ilonggos (see Principalía).

The town's fiesta is one of the most important events for Ilonggos. Almost every town (municipality) in Iloilo has a fiesta and festival celebrated annually.

Iloilo is also home to two of the countries cultural minorities the Sulod-Bukidnon and the Ati.


The Old Capitol Building of the Province of Iloilo.
  • Governor: Arthur D. Defensor, Sr.
  • Vice Governor: Raul C. Tupas

Provincial board members:
1st District

  1. Ninfa S. Garin
  2. Dennis T. Valencia

2nd District

  1. Demmy P. Sonza
  2. June S. Mondejar

3rd District

  1. Emmanuel R. Gallar
  2. Licurgo P. Tirador

4th District

  1. Carmen Rita M. Bautista
  2. Maria Shalene P. Hidalgo

5th District

  1. Nielo C. Tupas
  2. Jesus C. Salcedo

Ex-officio Board Members:

  1. PCL President: Paolo M. Guanco
  2. ABC President: Jeneda C. Salcedo

District Representatives:

  1. 1st District: Oscar S. Garin, Jr.
  2. 2nd District: Arcadio H. Gorriceta
  3. 3rd District: Arthur D. Defensor, Jr.
  4. 4th District: Hernan G. Biron, Jr.
  5. 5th District: Niel C. Tupas, Jr.


The Miag-ao Church is one of the Baroque Churches of the Philippines.
St. William The Hermit Parish Church of Passi City, the longest and one of the largest and oldest churches in Iloilo Province

As a leading province during the Spanish Colonial Era, the province of Iloilo is widely known for its beautiful old world architecture similar to that of Latin American Countries. Spanish colonial Churches are amongst the well-known tourist sites in the province.

Miag-ao Church. The World Heritage Site. The Aztec-Baroque inspired church with Filipino botanicals used to carved on the facade. It is known for its intricate facade and pyramidal bell towers. The church was used as a fortress during the olden days. It is a massive structure built of yellowish Limestones.

Molo Church. The Gothic Renaissance Church of Molo was used as a watch tower to warn the people if there are any attackers on the shore of Iloilo City. It is a fine coral stone church with Classical and Gothic details. It is also known as the feminist church because of the beautiful female saints lining inside the church.

Cabatuan Church. This Neoclassic Church, known to be the most massive Hispanic structure in Iloilo is built of red bricks. It is believed to be the largest red brick structure in the Visayas and it was given the title "Model of Temples" by the 'El Eco de Panay'. The Cabatuan Church is known to be the only extant Spanish colonial church with three facades.

San Jose Church. The beautiful church in front of plaza Libertad is considered the most historic amongst the churches in Iloilo City. It is a Byzantine-Neoclassic Church planned to look like the Spanish Church of Valencia del Cid. The Church is known for its collection of priceless Catholic treasures.

Passi City Church. This is considered a militaristic church in that it was planned as a ‘fortress church’ and the proof of this can be seen in the massive buttresses which support the front and back walls of the church. The church was built to replace churches that had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1612 and subsequent churches that had been destroyed by fires.

Old Capitol building of the Province of Iloilo. A National Historical Site. The building was built with wood stone during the Spanish colonization. It served as the capitol when the civil government of Iloilo was founded in 1901. The National Historical Institute (NHI) formally recognized the Old Capitol as a historical landmark through a marker installed on its walls on April 11, 2010.

Universities and Colleges


Stallion F.C. are a football team currently play in Division 1 of the United Football League.


Iloilo City is home to regional television stations of GMA Network (GMA TV6 & GMA News TV 28), TV5 (UHF 36 & AksyonTV 46), Solar channels (Solar News Channel TV-4, ETC UHF 32, 2nd Avenue UHF 24 & Jack CITY UHF 26) and ABS-CBN (ABS-CBN TV10 & ABS-CBN Sports+Action (UHF 38).

Notable Ilonggos


  1. "List of Provinces". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  2. ^ "Population and Annual Growth Rates for The Philippines and Its Regions, Provinces, and Highly Urbanized Cities". 2010 Census and Housing Population. National Statistics Office. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  3. Francisco Colin, S.J.; Madrid, published in 1663 , from his Labor evangélica
  4. Chuan-chou Fu-chi (Ch.10) Year 1612
  6. and
  7. "Old Iloilo capitol now a national historical site". Philippine Information Agency. 13 April 2010. Archived from the original on October 2, 2011. Retrieved 16 April 2010. 

External links

  • Iloilo Travel Website
  • Republic of the Philippines: Official website of the Provincial Government of Iloilo
  • Philippine Standard Geographic Code
  • Philippine Census Information

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