Iloilo is located in the Western Visayas region and is one of the provinces of the Philippines. It occupies the southeast portion of Panay Island. Iloilo is bordered by the province of Antique to the west and Capiz Province and Jintotolo Channel to the north.
Iloilo is divided into two distinct geographic regions; the highlands of the Madia-as on the western border and the lowland plains which account for a larger portion of the province. The province is subdivided into 42 municipalities, one component city and one highly urbanized city. Iloilo City is the provincial capital of Iloilo.
People of Iloilo are called Ilonggos. There are two native languages spoken in the province: Hiligaynon sometimes called Ilonggo and Kinaray-a. Hiligaynon is concentrated in the city of Iloilo and a few towns of the province. Ilonggo is an ethno linguistic group referring to the people living in Panay and the culture associated with the people speaking Hiligaynon. The town’s fiesta is one of the most important events for Ilonggos. Almost every municipality in Iloilo has a fiesta celebrated annually.
No pre-Hispanic accounts of Iloilo exist today. Only a small degree of oral history, in the form of recited epics, has survived. The earliest written historical accounts concerning Iloilo relates to Spain’s conquest of Panay lead by Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. Spanish architecture can be seen in old buildings in downtown Iloilo. Chinese merchants and Indonesians were trading with Ilonggos long before the Spaniards came.
As a leading province during the Spanish Colonial Era, the province of Iloilo is widely known for its beautiful old world architecture similar to that of Latin American countries. Among the well-known tourist sites in the province are the Spanish colonial churches.
The Miag-ao Church is a World Heritage Site. This Aztec-Baroque inspired church was used as a fortress during the olden days. It is a massive structure built by yellowish limestones. The Gothic Renaissance Church of Molo is known as the feminist church because of the female saints lining inside the church. It was used as a watch tower to warn the people if there are any attackers on the shore of Iloilo City. Other historical churches in the province are the Cabatuan Church and San Jose Church.
The National Historical Institute (NHI) recognized the Old Capitol building of Iloilo as a historical landmark. The building was built with wood stone during the Spanish colonization. It served as the capitol when the civil government of Iloilo was founded in 1901.During January, the city heats up for the Dinagyang Festival, a collection of tribe warriors dancing in honor of the Child Jesus.