From Iloilo City Hall to University of the Philippines Visayas Main Building: A Cultural Heritage

University of the Philippines Visayas - Center for West Visayan Studies

Most respected for its highly acclaimed standard of education, the University of the Philippines continues to produce graduates who are sought after in their various fields. Within its campus in UP Visayas, co-exists buildings both historical and modern. (Iloilo: The Book, p. 54)

Beginnings of the Iloilo City Hall
The construction of the building was envisioned in 1908 when Rosauro Jocson of Arevalo was Iloilo’s Municipal President. This was not materialized, however, not until Vice President (equivalent to the present Vice Mayor) Pablo Nava presented a plan in a regular session of the Municipal Council on December 27, 1928. On February 28, 1929, Juliana Melliza, a philanthropist and a well-to-do Molo landowner donated 10.8 hectares as the building site.

The City Hall was acknowledged as the largest building in Visayas and Mindanao during the Commonwealth Period according to one local newspaper "Ang Makinaugalingon" on its July 10, 1934 issue. In December 1936, it was inaugurated with much fanfare due to the elevation of Iloilo from a municipality to a city. Mayor Ramon Campos was the first city executive to occupy this building in 1937.

The construction began in December 1933 and completed in 1935 with Andres Bolinas, Jr. of Albay as contractor. Juan Arellano,  who had designed government buildings in Manila and Baguio, served as the consultant architect. Overall, the building was conceptualized by Arellano, who also drew the urban plan of Iloilo in 1933. Alfred Eugenio also collaborated with Arellano as local consulting architect. Municipal engineer, Salvador Delgado served as construction engineer and provided the finishing touches of the interior.
In general, neo-classic elements were apparent in the entire building: uniformly arched windows, stylized composite columns, high ceilings and dome and wide patios. Tropical and nativist features that were reflective of the Filipino “bahay na bato” were also observable: wide sliding main door windows, ventanillas and raised wooden floors.Strong influences of Art Deco is observable in the stylized sculptures at the entrance as well as decorative walls and chandeliers.Complementing the commodious and well-ventilated interior is the artistic façade, where two human statues as physical representations of the abstract concept of Law and Order made of concrete cast in bronze stood. A bas relief of four figures depicting courtly life also adorned the arched opening. These sculptures were executed by Francesco Riccardo Monti of Cremona, Italy together with local artisans from Molo: Juan Siendo of Fundidor and Pedro and Cirilo Sabiano of San Juan.
The City Hall as  a Japanese Garrison
Mayor Maximino Jalandoni vacated the building when the Japanese troops occupied Iloilo on April 18, 1942. For three years, the Japanese made the building a garrison and the surrounding area a concentration camp. They eventually abandoned the building during the Liberation of Panay on March 18, 1945.
City Hall to UPV Main Building
On December 18, 1945, Mayor Fernando Lopez and the Iloilo City Council passed a resolution favoring the opening of a University of the Philippines branch in Iloilo. This was endorsed by Congressman Oscar Ledesma in Congress. The formal legal transfer of the city hall building and adjoining site was galvanized by Resolutions 753, 782 and 906.
University of the Philippines Iloilo College (UPIC)
On August 24, 1949 Mayor Vicente Ybiernas and UP President Bienvenido Gonzales signed the “Deed of Donation” which made legal and definite the use of the building and site by UP Iloilo College (UPIC). President Gonzales sent to Iloilo Dr. Tomas Fonacier to start the administrative work, recruit members of the teaching staff and organize classes. With all the requirements set by the Board of Regents having been met, the University of the Philippines Iloilo College (UPIC) was formally opened on July1, 1947. The inauguration ceremony was attended by First Lady Esperanza L. Osmeña and President Sergio Osemeña. Dr. Fonacier served as the first dean of the college with sixteen (16) faculty members. Two hundred twenty three (223) students registered under an integrated curriculum of the junior college program, the only one of its kind in the Philippines.

The Deed of Donation between the Iloilo City Government and the University of the Philippines Iloilo College.

UPV Main Building Today
The Main Building presently houses a variety of offices at the university. It includes the Community Outreach Program (COP), Legal Office, Library,  Health Services Unit, Supply & Property Office and Commission on Audit (COA). Two UPV cultural institutions are also found in the building, the Center for West Visayan Studies and the Chancellor's Committee on Culture and the Arts. The Center for West Visayan Studies (CWVS) serves as research hub and repository of West Visayan culture, heritage, and history. The CCCA Art Gallery features and  exhibits the prized artworks of both national and local Filipino artists.
Center for West Visayan Studies
CWVS started as Visayan Studies Program (VSP) in 1975. It was established to preserve, propagate, and disseminate facets of Western Visayan history and culture through collection and preservation of artifacts and source materials, production of knowledge from local history as well as ethnographic and folkloric research. It also aims to propagate and disseminate West Visayan heritage in the region by means of exhibitions, conferences, and theatrical performances. Currently, CWVS maintains two museums, Textile Museum and Farming Museum.

Tiral or weaving loom.

Galingan or bobbin winder.

An exhibit on traditional farming implements at CWVS.

The University of the Philippines Visayas Chancellor's Committee on Culture and the Arts (UPV CCA) was established in July 1983 by Executive Order No. 03 issued by former UPV Chancelor Dr. Dionisia A. Rola.

One of the objectives of the CCA is to design a rich and balanced cultural program that will enhance the humanistic dimensions of life in the university and the community at large. It also ensures the preservation, exhibition and extension of the UPV art collection.

The former UPIC ultimately became the College of Arts and Sciences with the creation of the University of the Philippines in the Visayas in 1983. The main campus was transferred from Iloilo City to Miagao with College of Fisheries and Ocean Science as the flagship college. In 1996, reversion of the building to the city government was advanced by then Congressman and Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales, Sr. The proposal was shelved by the City Council.  Nonetheless, this scenario provided impetus for the UPV administration to revisit and act to preserve the heritage building.

On November 25, 2008, the office of UPV Vice-Chancellor for Planning and Development and CWVS collaborated with the City Government in pushing for the installation of historical marker to the building by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). It was declared a National Historical Landmark by the NHCP on December 14, 2009.

Credits: Story


UPV - Center for West Visayan Studies
Joyce Christine D. Colon
Randy M. Madrid
Jo Amadeo C. Tarrosa


GC T. Castro

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Translate with Google