Iloilo is a province of the Philippines, located in the center of the Philippine archipelago. The province comprises the southeastern part of Panay Island with island-province of Guimaras just across its coast. The capital city of the province of Iloilo is the City of Iloilo, which is also one of the major urban centers in the Philippines

Iloilo has always been one of the country’s most important provinces. Merchants from China and India have long traded with the Ilonggos even before the Spaniards came; evidences of this flourishing civilization are displayed in Museums and Private Galleries.

Even during the Spanish and American colonial period, Iloilo still proved to be an important trading post. Iloilo has a beautiful harbor with serene and calm waters, safe for navigation because it is protected from the open sea by scenic Guimaras Island. This excellent port facility made Iloilo the center of trade at the turn of the century, with the whole world doing business in this port especially during the heyday of the sugar industry. In fact, Iloilo was given the title of “Queen City of the South” for being the Philippine’s second city, after Manila.

You can still see the old buildings that surprisingly are European and American inspired such as stately mansions, majestic century-old churches, and heritage commercial buildings.

Iloilo’s rich heritage is showcased in multifarious festivals celebrated in the city and various towns of the province. Dubbed as the “Province of Festivals“, Iloilo is proud of its nationally acclaimed Dinagyang Festival, together with smaller but similarly riveting festivities in the province, blends the pagan and the Christian in a street dance masquerade honoring Sto. Nino.

Iloilo is endowed with natural wonders. Highland attractions from the cascades and waterfalls of the mountains of Iloilo to rice terraces and heights in its hinderlands. Worth visiting are various islands and islets of Iloilo that abound with white sand beaches and ornamented with tropical palms. Experience breezy fun while on an island hopping getaway. Explorations in Iloilo’s northern coast such as the myterious caves of Gigantes island and the sea charms of Sicogon and nearby islets, as well as the splendid silhouette of Pan de Azucar in Concepcion town herald quaint stories and enchanting folklores.

Iloilo takes pride in being the Food basket and Rice Granary of the Region owing to its fertile lands and seas that yield plentiful harvest. Rice is the major crop in the province of Iloilo. Fish and marine products are considered the main source of livelihood in the southern and northern Iloilo. Tourists will find many restaurants offering a gastronomic treat of fresh sea foods and famous Ilonggo dishes such as La Paz Batchoy, Chicken Inasal, and Pancit Molo.

Iloilo is a fast-growing modern city but has kept its old charm and unspoiled environment. Today, Iloilo is a popular convention and meeting destination, with its many first class accommodations and New Airport of International standards. Tourists will find sprawling malls scattered across the city wherein they can replenish supplies as well as their energies for the hectic sand-and-water environment that are soon to follow. Hotels and restaurants abound; a world-class golf course is located just outside the city proper in Sta. Barbara.

Iloilo serves as the gateway to the region. It is a stopover for tourists heading to the beaches of Boracay and Palawan and the nearby provinces of Guimaras, Antique, Capiz, and Aklan.

Ilonggos travel daily to Guimaras as if it was next door, and so with Guimarasnons to Iloilo. The trip across the strait taken only 15 minutes on a smooth sailing pumpboat, or 25 minutes by barge if you are bringing your vehicle.

People from Iloilo are called Ilonggos. They are known for their charm and sweetness that comes from the musical tonation of their dialect, Hiligaynon. You would not be able to tell if an Ilonggo is mad at you by the way they speak, which always sounds like some one crooning a love song to you. Kiniray-a, which is a dialect very similar to Hiligaynon is used in Iloilo’s countrysides. English and Tagalog are also widely spoken and understood especially in urban areas.

Metro Iloilo-Guimaras or MIG is a metropolitan area encompassing the highly urbanized city of Iloilo City, nearby towns, island of Guimaras. Guimaras Province assumes the role of agri-eco-tourism center; Pavia as the agro-industrial center, Leganes as the center for light industries, San Miguel as the agricultural basket, Oton as the dormitory and Sta. Barbara as the international air travel gateway. Iloilo City will remain as the residential, financial, commercial, governance and educational hub not only for Guimaras Island and the five satellite municipalities but also for the entire Region VI.

Source: Department of Tourism – Western Visayas, Wikipedia, Iloilo Province Official Website, Iloilo City Official Website
Iloilo Province Brochure by Bombette Marin, Iloilo Provincial Tourism Officer.