Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Heritage Town of STA. BARBARA

photo by Norman Posecion (USA-CAP)

SANTA BARBARA, Iloilo is considered as one of the premier municipalities in Iloilo that features captivating historical, as well as man-made tourist attractions. Tourists visit the area to experience these fascinating sightseeing destinations. This town is not just bricks and coral stones. Its spirit is the people who make them come alive and who welcome you warmly to enjoy and share their proud heritage.

STA. BARBARA CHURCH AND CONVENT is of Filipino-Baroque architecture and was constructed in 1845 and finished in 1886. The huge stones that were used as post, walls and floors of the church and convent were made of adobe, coral stone and red bricks. It is said that the slabs of rocks used were transported from the mountains of Leon, Alimodian and Tubungan. The convent is a big and long two-storey building where its ground floor is of piedra silleria and bricks. The church is where local hero, Gen Martin Delgado convened the junta that raised the first of cry revolution against Spain in Iloilo and convent served as the headquarters for the Ilonggo Revolutionary Forces under the General. It was declared as a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Institute in 1990.

photo by Norman Posecion (USA-CAP)

You may not automatically think of golf when you think of the town, but you should.  The ILOILO GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB, INC. in Barangay San Sebastian is considered as the oldest existing golf course in the Philippines, built in 1907. It started as a 9-hole golf course carved from the towns’ 35-hectare rolling hills. It was then called as the Sta. Barbara Golf and Country Club. The course was created by Scottish Engineers of the Philippine Railway Company in 1907. At that time, the club was exclusively for British and Americans. It was in 1920 when Filipino members were accepted. The old clubhouse was destroyed by Japanese Forces in 1941. In 1947 was renamed to how it is called now and is a full challenging 18-hole golf course of 6,056 yardage and plays to a par-70. The golf course is a 10-minute ride away from the New Iloilo Airport. You may visit their official website at or call (033) 5239779 or telefax at 63-33-5239777.

photo by Jun Fuerte
Visitors can see women engage in the art of bobbin lace-making and embroidery at the Women United Through Handcrafted Lace and Embroidery, Inc. or W.U.T.H.L.E. at the Western Visayas Sanitarium in Barangay San Sebastian. It is a non-profit organization from Belgium by the ICM Sister’s Apostolate dedicated to improving the lives of women by involving them in handicrafts such as this traditional handicraft. Making bobbin lace is a very large-scale technique which demands some skill and experience. Bobbin lace is done on a firm pillow to which a pricked-out pattern is tacked and each twist of the bobbins is held in place by a pin.  The pattern is printed on blue card stock or heavy card and covered with clear or blue contact paper to keep ink from bleeding through to lace. Pricking the holes before making the lace makes it easier to find the hole. For all its intricate and elegant appearance, there are only two different movements of bobbins in the formation of the lace: the twist and the cross. The center produces fine laces exported worldwide and is known to be the only one existing in Asia. For more information, please call (033)523-7894.

The SANTA BARBARA CENTENNIAL MUSEUM houses the town’s proud historical heritage with interesting antique artifacts, photos and personal belongings of local hero, Gen. Martin Delgado. It was constructed in 1998 as part of the Centennial Freedom Trail Site Project of the Philippine Centennial Commission. It also serves as the Tourist Information Center of the town. It is situated beside the municipal hall fronting the church and convent.

The beautifully landscaped VICTORY PLAZA AND MUNICIPAL BANDSTAND is another not-to-be-missed destination when in town. Built in 1925, the historic bandstand is of circular structure and has served as a stage for band and musicians, political rallies, religious programs as well as cultural shows and contests since the American Period.

photo by Jose de Luna

The Cry of Santa Barbara is translated to the annual celebration of KAHILWAYAN FESTIVAL every November 17th. Kahilwayan is a Hiligaynon term that means Freedom or Liberty. It is a dance-drama presentation that re-enacts the historic battle of the Ilonggos against Spanish colonial rule and how the Ilonggo revolutionaries gained their freedoms. The finale of the presentation is performed with a marching tune, the Marcha Libertador that was originally played when Ilonggo Revolutionarios led by Gen. Martin Delgado marched from the town to Plaza Alfonso XII presently known as Plaza Libertad in Iloilo City on December 25, 1898. The festival is considered to be one of the best festivals in the country.

Santa Barbara is one of Iloilo’s Best Heritage towns because of its unique character that provides a combination of architectural styles of many centuries, which gives it - and its visitors a special feeling for the past. Its attractions are evidences of its unique and intricate history and culture.

The municipality of sta. Barbara is comprised of 60 barangays. To get to Sta. Barbara, one can take a jeepney at the terminal fronting Christ the King Memorial Park in Jaro, Iloilo City. For more information, please contact Mrs. Irene Magallon - Municipal Tourism Officer at 09209697130.

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