Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Keeping History, Architecture and Identity Alive in Sta. Barbara

CPU tourism students explore the Golf Museum

Sta. Barbara, Iloilo is a compact, cute and charming town. One of the easiest towns to travel in to is a historic goldmine of attractions and cultural activity.  Every visitor must take the time to soak up Sta. Barbara’s fascinating history and rich culture.

The colonial-flavoured area of the 1925 Victory Plaza located in the middle, the museum and church and convent connected through a tidy main street is just a captivating visual illustration of history, but also one of the more popular old centers in Iloilo.

the Sta. Barbara Church and Convent 
The most striking feature is the Baroque-Renaissance architectural style, the mute-toned church and convent. Though not the original church, it is this town’s cherished landmark situated along the tidy main street beside a well-maintained park. The present church made of quarried sandstone and hardwood from the towns of Leon, Alimodian and Tubungan was built in 1849 under the supervision of Father Francisco Aguerria and was finished in 1878 under the supervision of Father Calixto Fernandez. The church and convent was declared a National Historic Site in July of 1990 and as a National Historical Treasure in November 17, 2013.

currently it houses the character exhibition of the Panay Epic Hinilawod
at the Centennial Museum
Try exploring with artifacts related to the entire history of the town. The Sta. Barbara Centenial Museum houses the town’s proud historical heritage. Constructed in 1998, it has interesting 18th century photos and personal belongings of this town’s local hero, Gen. Martin Delgado. It also serves as the Tourist Information Center situated beside the municipal hall fronting the church and convent.

The town is simply an educational and fun place to walk around and soak up the atmosphere. Known as the oldest golf course in the Philippines, the Iloilo Golf and Country Club built in 1907, started out as a 9-hole golf course carved from the rolling hills of Barangay San Sebastian by a group expatriates from Scotland, England and America who were in Iloilo to work for the Panay Railways. It was the first Philippine club accepted as an affiliate of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in Scotland. It was only in 1920 when Filipinos were allowed to join the elite club. Today, this 35-hectare historic recreation area is a challenging 18-hole golf course. The old clubhouse, the Tony Chan Veranda holds a Golf Museum where old golf balls and other golf paraphernalia as early as the 18th century are on display.

Situated in Barangays Duyan-Duyan and GMTD is the oldest Diversionary or Gravitational Dam in the Philippines completed in 1921. From Maasin River, water passes through the dam and then distributed to the towns of Leganes and Pavia. While in the area, visitors can experience flying across the dam on an exhilarating high wire adventure at 198 meters across suspended on a height of 60 feet. Regular fee is at P150.00 for students. For strict compliance, students are made to fill-up the Zipline Liability Release Form before they can do the zipline.  Entrance fee to the site is P10.00 per person. The area is currently managed by the Municipal Public Utilities Economic Enterprise under Mr. Ryan Suplido at 09394156139 or Miss Tina Capio at (033) 5237074.

With that increased demand and popularity, it is not surprising that a local farmer in Barangay Camambugan is trying his hand at growing the dragon fruit. In 2014, Mr. Ricardo Sua took a gamble and added dragon fruit to his livestock and poultry business. His 3,000 square meter lot with a picturesque view of the Iloilo International Airport has 250 posts yielding 100-150 kilos of dragon fruit every harvest. To maintain the upright growth of the plants, concrete columns are used for support. Each immature plant stems are tied to these columns. And, a circular metal frame is installed over the columns for a balanced growth. Saplings must be planted on an open field so that they can get direct sunlight. The dragon fruit is now dubbed as the new money crop. Its growing local popularity and surging market power can largely be attributed to its exoticness. The future of dragon fruit in Iloilo will be as big and bright as the fruit itself. For guided tours in the area, visitors can get in touch with the Municipal Tourism Office.

Sta. Barbara is 15.6 kilometers away or a 25-minuter drive from the city. It is politically subdivided into 60 barangays distributed over its 7,748 hectare land area. To get to town, one can take a jeepney at the terminal fronting Christ the King Memorial Park in Jaro, Iloilo City. For more information, please contact Miss Irene Magallon at 09209697130.

Sta. Barbara is celebrated as a place of historical and cultural importance. It has a rich and exciting history, and visiting the place is so much more fun than reading about it.

CPU tourism students exploring the Sta. Barbara convent 
Know more about Sta. Barbara on the 12th TUMANDOK, a Tourism Month celebration on September 22-25 at the fountain area of Robinsons Place Iloilo organized by the Provincial Culture, Arts, History and Tourism Office of the Iloilo Provincial Government, the Department of Tourism Region VI, the Iloilo Tourism Officers Association, Inc. and Robinsons Place Iloilo in cooperation with Central Philippine University, Tinukib, Department of Trade and Industry and The Daily Guardian.

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