Friday, February 18, 2011

Houses of History in the City

Casa Real, photo courtesy of Museo Iloilo

ILOILO is associated with legacies of Spanish colonial era. Most noticeable lies in its architecture where images of the city in the eighteenth century show manorial old houses, in their ornate facades combined with Classical western influences and folk art motifs. Relics and mementos of the past abound. Mute yet eloquent, reminding everyone of Iloilo’s colorful past bequeathed to the present. Wonderfully atmospheric old architecture blends harmoniously with its cosmopolitan landscape.

photo by Bernard Arellano III

Jaro is one of the six districts of Iloilo City. Considered as one of the oldest towns in the country, it was once a thriving river-port long before the Spain colonized Panay and used to be the richest area in Iloilo during the Spanish colonial period. It was also the center of religious and economic power in the Visayas at that time. It is noted for its many nineteenth-century architecture homes of affluent mestizo families.

photo by Bernard Arellano III

The Sanson y Montinola Antillan situated along E. Lopez Street in Jaro district, is one of the very few left intact in the country. Owned by Don Gregorio Montinola y Lozada and Doña Matilde Jalandoni y Habana, It was built at around the turn of the 20th century. The house is rich in variety of textures, colors, materials and pattern. Its lower portion is made of bricks that served as a vestibular area for the main entrance. The upper floor is for the living room. The house sits on a sprawling property that extends up to the other side of the main street. At present, the house is owned and managed by Gregorio Sanson and his wife, Marilou Tirol.

photo by Bernard Arellano III

The Ledesma Mansion was constructed sometime in 1925. Originally owned by Don Joaquin and Doña Pilar Ledesma, the main entrance is made up of Greek columns with colored windows on both sides with a veranda, giving a full view of Jaro plaza. Its rooftop has a big space where family gatherings were usually held. The house was used as a hospital during the Filipino-American War. It was said that the late presidents Ramon Magsaysay and Ferdinand Marcos visited the house.

photo by Bernard Arellano III

The Nelly’s Garden is a much-desired wedding venue due to its elegant facade and garden surroundings. It is a two-hectare property named after the most favored daughter of Don Vicente Lopez y Villanueva and Doña Elena Hofileña y Javelona. The main attraction is its Beaux Art mansion that was designed and built in 1928 by Don Vicente and Engineer Mariano Salas.

Along Sta. Isabel St. in Jaro is a 200–year old house popularly known as Casa Mariquit, home where Mariquit Javellana Lopez grew up before she eloped with Fernando Lopez at a tender age of 16. The house was built by Ramon Javellana, Mariquit’s father, a famous banker. It was later on restored by their grandson, Robert Lopez Puckett. The house is significant for its architectural details, cultural influence and its heirloom furnishings.

The Lopez Boat House in the district of Lapaz, Iloilo City is a stately villa mansion is the ancestral home of former Vice-President Fernando Lopez. Known for its nautical Art Modern style, it was built in 1935 by Architect Fernando Ocampo in collaboration with a Japanese engineer. It features round, porthole-style windows and an expansive upper story deck like that of a ship.

The district of Arevalo in Iloilo City was formerly called La Villa Rica de Arevalo. It became the official residence of the alcalde mayor of Panay and… Negros in The Camina Balay nga Bato or the Avanceña House at Osmeña Street, Arevalo, Iloilo City originally owned by on Fernando Avanceña was built in the 1860s. This two-storey house made of wood and stone has originally 16 rooms. During the revolt of the Ilonggo revolutionaries against the Spanish and American governments, it served as its general headquarters. Presently, it serves as the residence of the Camiña family and its ground floor houses the Mother Theresa North Learning Center.

The Sinamay House along J.V. Jocson Street in Arevalo was established sometime in the late 19th century. Presently owned by Mrs. Cecile Gison-Villanueva, it is one of the few places in the city where one can buy hand-woven textiles such as the sinamay--- a light cloth made of jusi fibers, and hablon, a fabric made of cotton and rayon.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Iloilo Paraw Regatta: A Tribute to Filipino Sailing Ambassadors


The Philippines has emerged as the foremost producer of skilled, experienced and well-trained seafarers in the international shipping arena many, many years ago. At the international maritime industry, everyone knows that Filipino seafarers possess the best traits and attitude and has serviced as the country’s “sailing ambassadors” in the world’s oceans and seas accounting for almost 30% of the global seaborne manpower. This makes them a vital component of the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) economy.

Our country has a proud and great seafaring history stretching to over thousands of years ago. It had long been a seafaring nation. Early Filipino inhabitants came from across the seas in frail boats. For centuries, seafaring natives living along the coastal areas of the country have sailed across the unexplored waters of the surrounding seas. The Filipino seafarers engaged in a very active trade and made regular journeys to neighboring countries in Southeast Asia and the Far East.

The significance of the seafaring culture in the Philippines was demonstrated by the wealth of naval-related vocabularies found in the 17th century Spanish dictionaries of Philippine languages.


When the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines, they found the early ships of the Filipinos to be of excellent quality. This is mainly due to the abundance of thick forests in the area that is teeming with first class hardwoods matched with the artistry and skill of the natives, specifically of the people from the Visayas that were known for their native sailing techniques. From the book “Swish of the Kris” by Victor Hurley, an account from Spanish friar Padre Crevas mentioned that the Southern Filipino ships were faster and swifter than the European ships of that period and they enjoyed the supremacy of the seas.

The paraw is attributed to the Visayan region. It is made up of a bangka (canoe without outriggers); a katig (outriggers); and a layag (sail). It was said that when the Borneans sailed to the country and landed at the mouth of the Siwaragan River in historic San Joaquin in 1212 AD., they used big sailboats that resembled like paraws. It was used for cargo, raiding purposes and significant in spreading settlements of people around the Philippines and neighboring regions in the Malay Archipelago.

Through centuries, paraws became a fundamental part of the maritime life of the Ilonggos. These paraws are used for livelihood in most coastal communities and transportation to nearby destinations in the island of Panay.

As a fitting tribute of its historic significance, an annual boat race of colorful paraws in the straits between Iloilo City and the island of Guimaras is organized. The Iloilo Paraw Regatta Festival, known to be the oldest sailing event in Southeast Asia and the largest sailing event in the country.

The Iloilo Paraw Regatta Festival on the beachfront of Villa, Iloilo City is a metro favorite for the entire family. The event is much more than racing, appealing to so many with a festival atmosphere of food, live entertainment, art show, children's activities and more.

The Iloilo Paraw Regatta Festival will run from the 13th till the 20th of February 2011. The much-anticipated boat race is scheduled on February 20 with the Registration of participants and Measurement of paraws at the Villa Beach shoreline at 6 a.m.; judging of the Pinta Layag competition is at 6 a.m., Villa Beach shoreline; 1st Iloilo Paraw Regatta Airsoft competition finals at Punta Villa Resort, 7 a.m.; Pintawo, a body painting competition is at 7 a.m., Breakthrough Restaurant; Opening Program and declaration of the Race is at 7 a.m. at the main festival stage in Tatoy’s Manokan; Sinamba sa Paraw Regatta Mardi-Gras finals is at 8 a.m. the main festival stage in Tatoy’s Manokan; Mini-Paraw Beach Race at 8 a.m., Tatoy’s beach shoreline; National Invitational Women’s Beach Volleyball, 8 a.m. at the Villa Regatta beach front; Rapid Chess Tournament at 8 a.m. in Breakthrough Restaurant; Iloilo Beach Ultimate Finals at 10 a.m. in Villa Regatta beach front; arrival of the Deep-Sea Fishing competition, 12 noon at the main festival stage in Tatoy’s Manokan; Awarding ceremony at the main stage in Tatoy’s Manokan at 3 p.m. and, GMA Network Beach Party with live band and Manila artists from 5 p.m. till midnight at the main stage of Tatoy’s Manokan.

This event for the last 39 years is a celebration that entertains and educates everyone, and encourages a greater understanding of the impact our seafarers play in our country’s history. It is through this unmatched and globally-recognized celebration that our country be worthy of the recognition as the leading producer of seafaring ambassadors.

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