Historical Sites, Landmarks and Monuments in Iloilo

University of the Philippines Visayas - Center for West Visayan Studies

Miagao Church was built from 1787-1797. Its facade is a composite of medieval, baroque and local plasteresque elements, The church exudes the native touch as reliefs of coconut, banana, papaya trees and stylized guava fruit occupy the pediment. The upper triangle of the facade contains highly stylized tableu on top of a baroque explosion of curving lines, elaborate niches, decorative balustrades and columns.

Over 200 years old, it is one of the few remaining old churches in the country. It is a national shrine and a UNESCO heritage site. Miag-ao church has survived the revolution against Spain, the Japanese occupation, a fire, an earthquake and the harshness of time.

Built in 1864, Jaro Cathedral is one of the major examples of a colonial church that has undergone design transformations after the Second World War. Although the edifice was spared major damage during the hostilities, post-war renovations and additions have changed its character significantly. The façade is Filipinized baroque architecture in configuration, suggested by the curvilinear extensions with finials flanking its pediment.

The church still retains the original façade with layerings of new additions. The paired pilasters, the main door and old fenestrations remain, including the rose window and the arch niche on the pediments. Patinations of the wall surfaces have been erased by new plaster and paint. However, the same frontage has taken a new architectural character of “mestizo” quality. Two identical bell towers have been added that flank the old pediment. These are pseudo-gothic pinnacles superimposed on the Baroque façade. Another major addition is the balcony above the entrance, supported by paired columns.

Jaro Cathedral’s evolution as a dynamic church center has undergone major physical changes because of liturgy, expediency, new values, force majure, among others.

Altar and interior of Jaro Cathedral.

Campo Santo de San Joaquin

Designed by Andres Luna de San Pedro, son of the painter Juan Luna, the Lizares Mansion was constructed in 1939 by the family of Don Emiliano Lizares. The grandiose mansion sits on a sprawling estate along the highway in Tabuc-Suba, Jaro. During World War II, the Japanese forces occupied the house and used the basement as prison.

On March 1, 1973, the National Historical Institute (NHI) installed a historical marker at the house of Rosendo Mejica.

Hailed as the dean of journalists in the Visayas, Rosendo Mejica, is one of the first printers and publishers in Hiligaynon, He was also the founder of one of the first public elementary schools in the Philippines during the American regime.

The house is located in Baluarte and was constructed in the late 19th century. The house contain many c Collection of the Mejicas from antique heirlooms to old newspapers published by their very own Makinaugalingon press.

The church of Molo is affectionately known to the locals as the “Women Church” because of the sixteen nearly life-size images of female saints occupying the columns of either side of the church’s central aisle.

The church was constructed in 1831 and has withstood several earthquakes. During World War I, it served as an evacuation center for civilians.

Casa Mariquit at Jaro.

Weaving is Iloilo’s age old legacy. Its weaving industry dates back to the pre-Spanish period when the Ilonggos at that time wove textiles from abaca and pineapple, cotton and silk. By the 19th century, the textile production of Iloilo had already reached a remarkable degree of development. Iloilo was then referred to as the "textile center” of the Philippines.

In the 19th century, the dwindling of Iloilo’s textile industry discouraged many of the Ilonggos to engange in weaving. Yet, the industry has survived to the present day, albeit in a very limited scale. The Arevalo Sinamay House owned by Mrs. Cecilia Gison Villanueva attests this survival. Established in the late nineteenth century by her great grandfather, Capitan Victorino Chavez, this “home industry” still operates today.

Considered as one of the Philippines' great reformists during the Spanish period in the country, Graciano López Jaena was born in Jaro, Iloilo.

The old City Hall was designed by the well-known Filipino architect, Juan Arellano. Considered as one of the prominent landmarks in Iloilo, it has a unique type of architecture with Spanish influence predominating.

The building was used as City Hall until 1947 when the Iloilo Municipal Board donated it for the use of the University of the Philippines.

Plaza Libertad was formerly called Plaza Alfonso XII. The Philippine flag was raised here in triumph after the Spaniards surrendered Iloilo, their last capital in the Philippines on December 25, 1898.

Molo is one of the older districts in the city of Iloilo.

The Asilo de San Vicente de Paul, Home for the Aged and the Infirm was founded in 1934 by a Vincentian Priest, Father German Villazan, The priest was deeply touched by the sight of poor elderly roaming the streets in rags with their woobly legs, begging from door to door or waiting for ails at the door of churches, some houses or other buildings. He called a meeting of the Ladies of Charity, a religous women organization, and solicited everyone's help in order to put up an institution where the poor elderly could be sheltered and cared for. The home which shelters them gradually improved its facilities through the years. while very modest, these include, individual cubicles, comfort rooms, bathrooms, artesian wells, lighting facilities, a clinic and a kitchen. A renovated chapel provides spiritual upliftment by its daily offering of mass, rosary and other devotions.

Located at Molo, Iloilo City, Baluarte Elementary School was founded in 1905 by Don Rosendo Mejica.

The school started with an enrolment of sixty-five pupils. Since there was no regular Filipino or American teacher available, responsible men trained in Spanish offered their free services as teachers. When American teachers took over later, they were astonished to find how quickly the children learned English.

Baluarte Elementary School is one of the oldest elementary schools in the Philippines. It was established in 1905 at Baluarte, Molo, iloilo City.

The opening of the Iloilo School of Arts and Trades, now Western Visayas College of Science and Technology (WVCST) in La Paz, Iloilo City, marked the historical beginning of the technical skills training among the Ilonggos.

The Iloilo Trade School was established by the American Civil Government under the then Bureau of Education in 1905. It started as an elementary trade school with a two-storey wooden building at Iznart Street, Iloilo City. It offered a general elementary curriculum with special training in wood working, building construction and sheet metal preparation.

Iloilo National High School
 Iloilo High School was constructed in 1902 and was intended to be a teacher-training institution to meet the urgent need for Filipino instructors. The school was housed in a two-storey building across the street from the Provincial Capitol on the site which was occupied by a hotel, Iloilo Casa Plaza. In 1938, the Iloilo High School had its first Filipino principal, Florentino Kapili, and shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, the First Filipino English Supervisor, Macario B. Ruiz.  Iloilo Provincial High School,now, the Iloilo National High School, is one of the first provincial public high school in the country.

Fort San Pedro, a historical landmark of the Spanish colonization, stands on a promontory at the entrance of Iloilo Harbor. The construction of the fort of Iloilo was started in 1616, primarily to resist invasion mainly by the Dutch.

The entrenchment consisted of a trench of wood and earth, a ditch, several cutting board and palisade and positioned four cannons made of iron. In 1617, the fortress was completed, all made of stone “with good bulwarks and arsenal that were surrounded by big cannons”.

The fort was named “Real Fuerza de Iloilo”, later known as Fort San Pedro. Two companies of Spanish soldiers were stationed in the fort to protect the shores against raids of the Dutch and the southern “Moros”.

During the American occupation, Fort San Pedro continued its role as a defensive fortress and in the 1930’s, it served as a mobilization center. It also served as a garrison for the Armed Forces, The Philippine Constabulary especially, which used Fort San Pedro to exercise garrison duties. After World War II, the authorities of Iloilo City decided to clear the fort site of shambles after it was completely destroyed by bombers of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Airforce when the fort was occupied by the Japanese.

Today, Fort San Pedro has become a public park where people could promenade and breath fresh air, contemplate about dreams and aspirations.

Credits: Story


Center for West Visayan Studies
Joyce Christine D. Colon
Jo Amadeo C. Tarrosa


GC T. Castro
Emmanuel Lerona


Funtecha, Henry and Melanie Padilla, 1987. Historical Landmarks and Monuments of Iloilo, Iloilo: Toyota Foundation.

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.