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Iloilo: The Heart of the Philippines

The province has been remarked as the Heart of the Philippines, and when visiting Iloilo, you will experience the exotic charm of the province. Its extraordinary attractions will surely leave an impression on every visitor.

by Jhaypee Guia on July 02, 2012
Iloilo: The Heart of the Philippines

Aerial View of Iloilo from the Iloilo Strait

The province has been remarked as the Heart of the Philippines, and when visiting Iloilo, you will experience the exotic charm of the province. Its extraordinary attractions will surely leave an impression on every visitor.

Iloilo is a province of the Philippines located in the Western Visayas region. It lies at the heart of the Philippines having a land area of 4,663 square kilometers. Iloilo occupies the southeast portion of Panay Island and is bordered by Antique Province to the west and Capiz Province and the Jintotolo Channel to the north. Just off Iloilo's southeast coast is Guimaras Province, once part of Iloilo Province but now a province in its own right. Across the Panay Gulf and Guimaras Strait is Negros Occidental. Iloilo's capital is Iloilo City though the city itself is independent and not governed by the provincial government of Iloilo.

The province of Iloilo is the largest marshland in Western Visayas after the Sanderbans. The province 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. Small islands east of its northernmost tip also dot the Visayan Sea, of these, Pan de Azucar and Sicogon are well-known.

The province will never fail to amaze visitors for having a variety of natural and historical attractions. They will surely love the province and its charm as one of the best vacation getaways.


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. Spanish colonial Churches are amongst the well-known tourist sites in the province.


  • Plaza Libertad, Iloilo City

Where the flag of the First Philippine Republic was raised in triumph after Spain surrendered Iloilo on December 25, 1898.

  • La Villa De Arevalo

Six kilometers southwest of Iloilo city proper; second capital of the Alcaldia of Panay; flower village of Iloilo City.

Three kilometers from city proper; old colonial houses of sugar barons and Hispano-Filipino houses of the elite still stand; seat of Catholicism in Western Visayas.

  • Jaro Belfry

Ruined by the 1948 earthquake ,but now restored. One of the few belfries in the country that stands apart from the church.

  • Guimbal Watchtowers, Guimbal

Twenty-nine kilometers southwest of Iloilo city proper; called "Bantayan", built to warn the people of pirates.

Forty kilometers southwest of Iloilo city proper; built in 1786; declared as a national landmark in 1973; in UNESCO's World Heritage List.

  • Sta. Barbara Church

Sixteen kilometers north of Iloilo city proper; neo-classical church where Gen Delgado convened the junta that raised the first cry of the revolution against Spain; made of red brick and coral stones.

  • Sta. Barbara Golf Course

Sixteen kilometers north of Iloilo city proper; 18 holes, 37-hectare golf course built in 1907; oldest in the Philippines.

  • San Joaquin Church

Fifty three kilometers Southwest of Iloilo city proper; sports a bas-relief of historic battle between Christians and Moors of Morocco in Tetuan in 1859.

  • Tigbauan Church

Twenty two kilometers southwest of Iloilo city proper; baroque facade; site of first Jesuit school for boys in the Philippines established in 1592.

  • Panay Liberation Marker, Tigbauan

Twenty threekilometers Southwest of Iloilo city proper; commemorates American liberation of Panay from the Japanese in 1945.

  • Iloilo City Downtown Area

Has buildings that date back during the Spanish and American colonial periods.

  • Muelle Loney

Iloilo City's waterfront named after Nicholas Loney, father of the Phil. Sugar Industry; opened to foreign trade in 1855.

  • Molo District, Iloilo City

Known as Chinese quarters of Iloilo during Spanish times.

  • Japanese Fortification, Cabatuan

Built by the Japanese as a lookout for enemies.

  • Guimbal Church

The yellow sandstone church built by Fr. Campos.

  • Janiuay Church

Ruins of the beautiful church with bells made in 1871 and 1898.

  • Concrete Pillboxes, Janiuay, Iloilo

Pillboxes built by the Japanese during World War II.

  • Siwaragan River, San Joaquin, Iloilo

Where according to legend the barter of Panay took place.

  • Cabatuan Church

A neoclassical church built in 1880s.

  • Fort San Pedro, Iloilo City

Built by the Spaniards in the early 1600s and was attacked by the British, American and Japanese troops.

Three kilometers from Iloilo city proper; Gothic Rennaissance church made of coral rocks.

  • Jaro Cathedral

Three kilometers from Iloilo city proper, seat of Jaro Archbisphoric embracing Western Visayas.

  • Janiuay Cemetery

Thirty two kilometers from Iloilo City; Hispano-Filipino cemetery built in 1875.

  • Pavia Church

Thirteen kilometers  northwest of Iloilo City; red brick church of Byzantine style built by Spanish Agustinians during the middle of the Spanish era in the Philippines.

  • San Joaquin Cemetery

Fifty three kilometers  southwest of Iloilo City; built in 1892 of coral rock.

  • Iloilo Customs House (Aduana)

The building of Iloilo's Customs, also known as "Aduana" was established during the American period. It is one of the oldest and biggest Customs building. The exterior design of the building is said to be similar to the Immigration Building of Manila - the tall tower erected at its center. The building can be found in Muelle Loney, Iloilo City.

  • Taytay Tigre

A short bridge constructed during the Spanish colonial period. It is commonly known as “Taytay Tigre” because of the tiger stone structure made part of its approaches on both sides guarding the bridge before one enters the poblacion. It was reconstructed through donation from a veteran Guimbalanon.


Repository of Iloilo's cultural heritage.


  • Sicogon Island

A 1,104 hectare white sand palm-fringed island located 5 kms from the town proper of Estancia.

  • Isla De Gigantes, Estancia

12 kms. east of Estancia town proper, where 15th century burial caves are still found.

  • Nadsadjan Falls, Igbaras

39 kms. Southwest of Iloilo city proper; a 50-foot high falls.

  • Tinagong Dagat, Lambunao

73 kms. North of Iloilo city proper; a lake situated on a plateau.

  • Cataan Cove, San Joaquin

60 kms. southwest of Iloilo City; ideal for scuba diving.

  • Darangkulan Waterfall, Anilao

8 kms. from Anilao town situated at the foot of Mt. Manyakiya.

  • Nagpana Falls, Barotac Viejo

Swimming hideaway; where Aetas (cultural minority) live.

  • Mt. Napulac, Miag-ao

60 kms. from Iloilo city proper; hasvirginal forest, and abundant wildlife.

  • San Juan Falls, Sara

6.2 kms. from Sara town proper; a series of falls and pools located in a valley of lush vegetation.


  • Sinamay Dealer, Osmena St, Arevalo, Iloilo City

Were jusi ((banana fiber) and piña (pineapple fiber) cloths are loom-woven.

  • Flower Gardens, Arevalo, Iloilo City

Supplies of leis, corsages, bouquets and potted plants.

  • Asilo de Molo

The orphanage where church vestments, barong, hankies, etc. are hand embroidered.


  • Panaderia de Molo

Assorted biscuits

  • Pancit Molo

Famous flat noodle soup originally made by Chinese culinary artists in the late 18th century.

  • Lapaz Batchoy

A famous noodle dish originally made in the district of Lapaz


Iloilo Province is located in the Western Visayas region, and can be reached by plane, bus, ferry or roro (roll-on-roll-off) from Manila.

By Air:

There are direct flights to Iloilo Intenational Airport and take around 50 minutes from Manila. Once there, one can ride a shuttle van or taxi going to Iloilo City.

 List of airlines that have daily trips to Manila to Iloilo:

  • Cebu Pacific
  • Air Philippines
  • Philippine Airlines
  • Zest Air

By Sea:

From Manila Ports, the travel time going to Iloilo Domestic Port, located along General Hughes St.,  is about 20 hours.

By Land:

There are buses from Manila that have trips to Iloilo City. The bus uses the roro (roll-on-roll-off) services going to Iloilo. The bus terminals in Cubao and Pasay have buses with trips going to Iloilo.

When touring the province, taxis and jeepneys are available as a mode of transportation around the province.

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