Ilonggo Heritage, from 1900s, 2000s, onwards

WITNESS HOW ILOILO revives important pieces of history while it makes its way as the next big thing. These are videos presenting the restoration project of the Iloilo Cultural Heritage Foundation, Inc. with the landmarks in the old business district of the city which were vital especially during the heydays of the once called Queen’s City of the South.



by: Carl Jacinto

LIVELY, COLORFUL, LOUD, intensely entertaining, that characterizes Ilonggo Festivals. From the loud beat of the drums to the resounding echoes of the music to diverse dance moves and vibrant displays of colors, Ilonggo festivals are all over whole year round.

Mostly anchored to each town’s history, these festivals are also a thanksgiving for the bountiful blessings that Ilonggos have received, a clear testimony of the devotion and faith of the people from Iloilo.

Check out some of these festivals which makes merry making more fun in Iloilo!


Celebrated every May in the town of Pavia in Iloilo, Carrabao-Carroza Festival is a race among colorful clothed carabaos pulling artistically decorated carrozas. (


This Festival of Maasin, Iloilo is a tribute to one of the trees of life, the bamboo grass. Dancers perform wearing clothes made of Bamboo. They tell Maasin’s history and how Bamboo contribute to its thriving existence.. Different objects and furnitures are being featured in the parade as well. (

PASUNGAY FESTIVAL, San Joaquin, Iloilo

Celebrated every 2nd Saturday of January, who says only Spain has bullfights? San Joaquin has it’s version of this festivity too… Here, two bulls are placed on an arena to perform the dance of death… But no one dies in the end, the performance is just for the Spectator’s amusement. (

TINUOM FESTIVAL, Cabatuan, Iloilo

Tinuom.. Yes… a savoury Cabatuananon delicacy which might give your tastebud a perfect satisfaction. Not only the Festival celebrates its tasty Tinuom, but it also showcases the History of Cabatuan; the three theories of where its name originated; the fall of the town, as the last defense of Western Visayas during World War II and some of the legends and myths that molded the town into perfection. (


The festival reflects the origin of Binanog dance that has been part of the town’s culture.  (

Pintados de Passi, Passi City, Iloilo

Here tattoed men, believed to have dominated the early days of Passi dance featuring supernatural traditions and beliefs. (

KASAG FESTIVAL, Banate, Iloilo

KASAG Festival is a rich tradition in the town and has been held annually. The tradition has been built around a family friendly environment that showcases the great seafood that Banate has to offer. (


The festival is a celebration of Municipality of Oton’s Glory. From historical artifacts to long-standing traditions and natural wonders, Oton is indeed a very rich town. Formerly Ogtonganon Festival, the festival name was changed to Katagman Festival after researches pointed out that it is the ancient name of the town. (


Candelaria Fiesta (Feast of Our Lady of Candles) is a very much celebrated religious event in Jaro, Iloilo. Every February 2nd, Salognons (Jaro natives; sometimes Jareños) prepare banquets for friends, families and other relatives who gather for a celebration. It is their act ofthanksgiving for the previous year’s blessings customary to the Philippine’s catholic tradition.

Jaro is considered to be the center of the Candelaria devotion in the Philippines. (


The Iloilo Paraw Regatta, awarded as the Best Tourism Sport Event in the Philippines, is the oldest traditional craft event in Asia, and the largest sailing event in the Philippines. The Regatta is to celebrate the skills of the paraw sailors, and bring a fiesta spirit into their lives.  And with the colorful painted sails, this spirit is brought into the lives of participants and tourists as well. (Jonathan Grant)

DINAGYANG, Iloilo City

The Dinagyang Festival is celebrated every fourth weekend of January to honor the Christianization of the natives and to respect the Holy Child Jesus. It is a very colorful parade coupled with a dramatization in honor of the patron Saint Sto. Niño  whom Ilonggos believe was very miraculous in times of famine and drought. (

This festival has been recognized as the Association of Tourism Officers of Philippines (ATOP) Best Tourism Event Hall of Famer and was given the title as Queen Festival of the Philippines in 2011 still by ATOP.  Apart from this, several recognitions was also awarded to Dinagyang both in the local and international scene.

Watch this performance of Tribu Pan-ay, Dinagyang 2012’s Ati-ati Tribe Competition Champion and Aliwan Festival 2012’s Champion.

Feel the Iloilo Fever. Here’s a list of the many festivals happening in Iloilo from January to December.

januaryFebruarymarchapril may june september october November December

*festival dates are based from


Dagyang ta Dos Mil Trese!

by: Carl Jacinto


Witness and experience the Queen Festival of the Phillippines.

Dagyang ta 2013!

Schedule of Activities


Fore more details you may visit,

Photo credits:


SAOT: Dances of Love

by: Carl Jacinto

ANOTHER ART THAT best mirrors Ilonggo’s vibrant and rich COOLture are folk dances.

These Saot or dances have its own story to tell. Like many other Philippine Folk Dances, Ilonggo Folk dance developed from many inspirations such as rituals of Ilonggo tribes, representations of Ilonggo living in the rural area, or courtship dances influenced by Spanish colonizers.

Here are some of the dances which are indeed cool testimonies of the beautiful and colorful Ilonggo culture.


According to, Paseo de Iloilo was the most sophisticated courtship and flirtation dance of the Spanish Era. This dance portrays the men competing against each other in order to win the heart of a young lady.


One of the folk dances which tells the story of Ilonggo lifestyle in the rural areas.

Today, these dances are still being performed in social gatherings or folk dance competitions.


When ‘Lakwasta’ Becomes Worth It

LAKWATSA  IS A Filipino slang which means ‘to wander’ or ‘to rove’, used especially when cutting classes or skipping school. Now in this article, whatever you do right now, drop it and ride with us for we are going to see other must-visit places in Iloilo. Here is your super-awesome itinerary.

First stop:  Fort San Pedro. Also known as Fort Nuestra Señora del Rosario, this fort is one of the easiest landmarks to go to since it is found in the city. Built by the Spaniards to protect the city from foreign invaders during 1600s, Fort San Pedro had witnessed  numbers of attacks by the Dutch, British, American and Japanese troops during the ancient times.

Second stop: Guimbal Watchtowers. To protect themselves during the pre-hispanic era, the people from the town of Guimbal built five watchtowers  in different areas. The watchers looked out for coming Moro pirates who constantly attacked the place, kidnapped the Ilonggos, and sell their captives as slaves in Mindanao. These watchtowers are called bantayan  which literally means “a place for guarding”.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Third stop: Sta. Barbara Golf Course. Who said Iloilo is just nothing but a boring little province? Well, FYI, Sta. Barbara Golf Course is the oldest golf course in the whole Philippines. Although it started to be only a nine-hole course and now 18-hole, visitors definitely love to go and play at this haven.

Fourth stop: Isla de Gigantes. I personally would not believe when I saw and learned about this island on TV. Simply because it is amazing! I mean who would have thought that Iloilo could possess such paradise like the ones from other countries that televisions are talking about! Oh, well, Isla de Gigantes in Carles, Iloilo has astonishing rock formations that you may climb. The breath-taking natural pool or salt lagoon which they call tangke  will then welcome you inside where you may swim, relax, and thank God. I swear!

And if you cannot get enough of the world’s wonders in Iloilo, there are still a number of places to go to. There is the Nadsadjan Falls, Tinagong Dagat, Darangkulan Waterfall, Nagpana Falls, Mt. Napulak, Bucari, Sampunong Bolo Wildlife Sanctuary, Duminding Cave, San Mateo Mountain Spring and there is just so many, many more stops that you could not afford to stop.

So, come to Iloilo because it is when you are done seeing every inch of Iloilo that lakwatsa  becomes all worth it, reasonable and valid.


Ilonggo Coolturerific Menu

WHEN PEOPLE GO to somewhere for a vacation, they only want two things: to see the place and to have fun. But when people go to ILOILO, they actually mean to do three: see the place,  have fun,  and EAT  — huge difference, huh? Of course! Experience would not be as memorable without the tasting. Right?

So, why not we look through our Ilonggo menu and get hungry for more Ilonggo cuisine?


Also known as suman  in Tagalog, this native food called pilit  or glutinous rice is mixed with coconut milk and is wrapped with a banana leaf. It is best when dipped in sugar or the lasaw  (a mixture of coconut oil and brown sugar.)

Aside from being famous all throughout Western Visayas, ibus  has won the hearts of other regions in the Philippines. In fact, people put it as a pasalubong  or homecoming present for their friends and loved ones who either have or have yet experienced Iloilo.

Baye Baye

If ibus  makes it to one of the most requested foods from Iloilo, baye baye  sure does not want to stay in its wrapper. Baye baye,  being not too sweet and not too sticky, is made of fresh-from-harvest coconut meat, coconut water, sugar, and pinipig or pounded rice grains.

This is one good Ilonggo food you would irresistibly eat one after another that, surely, you would not want to control yourself with!


Ilonggos love heavy snacks and adding this inday-inday  to our list is just right because like ibus,  it is made of glutinous rice, and flour. However, this Western Visayan snack would not be mouth-watering as it is without the delicious topping.

The topping, in contrast, is made from shredded young coconut meat mixed with muscovado sugar and coconut milk that altogether result to… a dessert called bokayo.  This is then placed on top of our inday-inday  and this is what makes it oh-so satisfying.


Wafers are not only known to children. Thanks to the thinness and crispiness of Iloilo’s barquillos  which prove that these wafer sticks are for adults, too. Barquillos  are made of flour, milk and sugar; so these tasty cylinder-shaped sticks definitely can be eaten along with almost anything served on the table at anytime.


Children may pass on with barquillos,  but with sweet and chewy Ilonggo delicacy like pinasugbo?  No way. Pinasugbo  are thinly sliced native bananas covered with brown sugar and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Bet your kids will keep remembering Iloilo and ask for more pinasugbo!


There is bread and there is butter – always the perfect partners. But what happens when they become one? Well, they become biscocho  which is famous; and the best, when it is from Iloilo.

Why not, when it is a bread toasted and coated with butter (or garlic), milk and sugar? Therefore, there is really not a valid reason for biscocho  not to be popular anywhere in the country.

Pancit Molo

This wanton soup was first combined with molo wrapper, shredded chicken meat and shrimps. Added to the perfect taste of this Ilonggo dish are minced green onions and toasted garlic that your appetite will not deny.We know for a fact that noodles from the Chinese. However, pancit molo  is obviously and totally a different thing since it was prepared a long time ago in Molo, Iloilo City where it got its name.

La Paz Batchoy

If you are visiting Iloilo City and will be going home without eating La Paz Batchoy,  God forbid, you will miss one half of your life!

La Paz Batchoy,  having originated at La Paz, Iloilo City, is just one unforgettable noodle dish all of us keep missing. With its recipe of pork innards, liver, garlic, onion leaves, soy sauce, chicharon, and a little powdered pepper depending on your taste buds; and just by the smell of it, who would say no? Seriously.

Indeed when it comes to Iloilo, there are A LOT to go to. To see, to enjoy, to taste, and to experience. And most especially, to meet people with good taste!


Cottage and Textile Industries: Fulfillment of Every Ilonggo

EVERY CHEF HAS his own recipe, every doctor his own specialization, every human being his own intelligence; and each district of Iloilo, with regards to handicrafts, has its own forte which in this case is also internationally popular.

Renowned for being the center of pottery-making and bolo-making during the Spanish regime in the Philippines, Iloilo was once referred to as the “Textile Capital of the Philippines”. This is because weaving has been the passion of the province.

Hablon  comes from the Hiligaynon word “habol” which means to weave.  It is made of  jusi  (banana fiber), pina  (pineapple fiber) and other indigenous materials. What is so more exceptional with this textile is the time and hard work being invested to create this since it is woven by hand. History tells that the production of hablon  in Iloilo was clearly well-established even before the Spaniards set foot in Panay during the 1560s. Thus Iloilo, particularly Miag-ao, is undeniably the sole source of hablon;  exporting to other provinces and other countries at the early time. Even to this day, hablon  is still hand-woven and is catering exclusive businessmen and fashion designers anywhere.

Apart from hablon,  another thing that makes Ilonggos proud is the diverse products made of bamboo. In 2009, Iloilo town was identified as bamboo processing techno-demo area for its availability to produce thousands of bamboo poles and produce high-end products out of them. From tables, to chairs, to furniture, to lamps… just name it. Iloilo will have it just for you.



The Writ of the Ilonggo People

By: Jester Paul R. Bacabac


MANY OFTEN MISTAKEN Ilonggo as the Austronesian language spoken by people living in Western Visayas, politically labeled Region 6 composed of the provinces of Iloilo, Capiz, Antique and Aklan on the island of Panay; Negros Occidental, the western half of the island of Negros; and the new island-province of Guimaras which used to be a sub-province of Iloilo. The truth is, they are referring to Hiligaynon as the lingua franca of the aforementioned region located at the heart of the Philippines.

Hiligaynon is spoken in Iloilo City in all the coastal towns north of Iloilo City, in all of Guimaras, in most of Roxas City in Capiz, and in Bacolod City and most of the towns of Negros Occidental. The language is also spoken in South Cotabato, in Mindanao, where many West Visayans have migrated. The province of Aklan speaks Aklanon (pronounced as akyanon) which, like Hiligaynon, developed from Kinaray-a. Kinaray-a or Hiraya, the mother language of Western Visayas, is now spoken by the central and southern towns of Iloilo, all of the province of Antique and most of Capiz.

Although distinctly different from Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a and Aklanon are carefully weighed by several linguists and literary scholars as colligated in the lingua franca. However, current writers in Kinaray-a and Aklanon have shown that it is not so.

Purely spoken, Western Visayan literature prior to the advent of the Spanish occupation was in Kinaray-a which must have been the tongue in folk literature of the ten Bornean datus who, in accordance with the folk account of the Maragtas, got the island of Panay from the aboriginal Ati in replacement for a headgear of gold and a necklace that touched the ground.

Folk literature ranges from concise and succinct riddles, ditties, proverbs, ritual chants to luxuriant love songs, tales and panoptic epics. A poem is called binalaybay and the tale is the asoy or the sugilanon.

The paktakon is a riddle while the hurubaton is a proverb. Both are usually in two lines and rhymed.

Folksongs may be as elementary as the ili-ili or lullaby or as elaborate as the ambahanon, a long song alternately sung by a soloist and a chorus; the siday which can be a long poetic joust between two paid poets respectively representing the two families in a marriage suit (siday sa pamalaye); or a balitaw, a jocose love song crooned in a debating manner by a man and a woman.

The asoy may be a legend or a tale about a folk hero or a local happening. Foremost among the Panay epics are the Labaw Donggon and the Hinilawod.

Ritual chants are delivered by the babaylan or healer to appease the diwata or supernatural beings or spirits in exchange for good health and abundant harvest.

The arrival of the Spaniards and the conversion of the people to Christianity produced new varieties of folk literature. It also marked the commencement of written literature which started with translations of Spanish texts of prayers and lives of the saints.

Tracing their origins to the Spanish times are the luwa, the witty quatrain recited by the loser of the bordon, the most popular game during the belasyon or vigil for the dead; and the composo, the ballad that sings the life of a folk hero or a significant incident in the community.

Religious literature flourished during the Spanish times. The Flores de Mayo is a devotional song-prayer held throughout the month of May characterized by singing hymns to the Virgin Mary and offering flowers.

The Pasyon, which recounts the suffering of Christ, is chanted during the Holy Week.

The gozos of the novena, the nine-day devotional prayer to a saint, stresses Christian virtue or rhapsodizes incidents in the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary.

Always part of the feast in honor of the patron saint is the coronation of the fiesta queen. The local poet then delivers the pagdayaw, a comprehensive ode praising the queen’s beauty and virtue.

Purely secular is the corrido, actually a medieval romance brought by the Spaniards. Most popular corrido in Western Visayas is written by Rodrigo de Villas.

The establishment of Imprenta La Panayana in Iloilo City late in the nineteenth century by a Bicolano, Mariano Perfecto, engineered written Hiligaynon literature. With his Pasyon, novenas and corridos, Perfecto published Almanake Panayanhon (Panayan Almanac), the all-time Hiligaynon best-seller. Almanake, which published literary works by most of the early Hiligaynon writers, is still being published today by the Perfecto heirs.

The coming of the Americans saw the so-called Golden Age of Hiligaynon literature even if the orientation was still heavily Spanish– didactic and Roman Catholic though strongly nationalistic.

The relatively short period from the 1920’s to the coming of the Japanese is considered the Golden Age. This produced Angel Magahum (first novelist for Benjamin), poet Delfin Gumban, poet Serapion Torre, poet-translator (from Spanish) Flavio Zaragoza Cano, essayist-journalist Rosendo Mejica, zarzuela masters Jose Ma. Ingalla and Jose Ma. Nava, playwright Miguela Montelibano, novelist-poet Magdalena Jalandoni, essayist Augurio Abeto and Abe Gonzales, and the young novelist Ramon L. Musones and poet Santiago Alv. Mulato. The triumvirate of Gumban, Torre and Zaragoza Cano ruled it out for years in poetry, their rivalry magnified by the public balagtasan or poetic joust. The establishment of Hiligaynon magazine by Liwayway Publications in Manila and of the Makinaugalingon Press by Rosendo Mejica in Iloilo City further strengthened Hiligaynon literature.

Jalandoni, Muzones, Gonzales and Mulato wrote their way through the Japanese Occupation and on to the fifties and the sixties which saw two new novelists, Jose E. Yap and Conrado Norada. The establishment of Yuhum magazine in Iloilo City by La Defensa Press and of the short-lived Kasanag by Diolosa Publications, kept literature not only alive but strong. Big names were Ramon L. Muzones, Santiago Alv. Mulato, Conrado Norada, Abe Gonzales and the forever versatile Magdalena Jalandoni. Jose E. Yap had started his series of science-fiction novels. New names came like Hernando Siscar, Antonio Joquiño and Isabelo Sobrevega.

The influence of English literature, especially in the short story, became pronounced in the 1960’s when Hiligaynon writers became more knowledgeable of formalist guidelines like characterization, local color and irony. The short story became popular while the novel with Muzones, Yap and Norada at the helm kept its position. Emerging from the sixties are important names of the present: Nilo P. Pamonag, Lucila V. Hosillos, Mario L. Villaret, Romeo Garganera, Ner E. Jedeliz, Jr., Quin Baterna and Jose Ali Bedaño who wrote under the name of Julius Flores. Two prominent women novelists are Ismaelita Floro-Luza of Roxas City and Ma. Luisa Defante-Gibraltar of Bacolod. All these writers are either bilingual or multilingual. It should also be understood that Western Visayas has produced a big number of writers in English and a few very good writers in Spanish.

       Yuhum stopped publication in the sixties and resumed during Martial law. Hiligaynon closed during Martial law and resurrected in 1989.

The EDSA Revolution of 1986 was an integral milestone in the history of Hiligaynon literature. Because of the new management of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the creation of the Presidential Commission for Culture and the Arts which later became the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, new writing and new writers have been born. The CCP and the NCCA have become truly the people’s patrons of the arts by paving the way for the creation of regional and local art councils, providing writing grants to writers of marginalized languages, supporting workshops and publications and conferring awards. Competitions likewise have had their share in the ferment of new writing. Most significant is the inclusion of the Hiligaynon short story, alongside that of Cebuano and Iluko, in the Palanca Awards since 1997.

Just like any other language, Hiligaynon has gone a long way before it became worthy of national recognition, development and utilization. In fact, many Hiligaynon words have been included during the setting up of the national language, Filipino, because it is undeniably one of the most extensive (in terms of usage and literature) pioneer indigenous tongues in the archipelago.



Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1994

Hosillos, Lucila V. Hiligaynon Literature: Texts and Contexts, The Ilonggo Language and Literature Foundation, Inc., Iloilo City, 1992

Mulato, Santiago Alv. Ilonggo Men of Letter, Iloilo City (unpublished)

Deriada, L.P. Hiligaynon Literature, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, On-line Edition

The Ilonggos and the Others

THE ILONGGOS FROM 15th century started to recognize the existence of spirit beings in our surroundings. Since it has really been in the Ilonggo culture, Ilonggos are aware of the popular beings called kama-kama  or dwende  (dwarves), kapri  or tikbalang  (centaurs-like that live on the trees and smoke pipes), and among others.

If there were beings that really got into Ilonggo customs and traditions, it would be the tamawo,  encanto  or fairies. They are environmental spirits known to have the ability to transform into humans and live like humans. Also said to be living in balete  trees (lunok  in Hiligaynon), the tamawos  can be identified for having no narrow grooves above their lips despite their fine physical features. But whatever they are and however they look and live their lives, every Ilonggo considers the others  before performing operations that involve nature where they are also believed to inhabit.

Here is a short movie entry during the Iloilo Short Film Competition in 2010.

Sa Lunok (At the Balete Tree)


Serag, S.S.C. (1997) The Remnants of the Great Ilonggo Nation