Iloilo - The Sugar of Philippines
Iloilo is a province in the Philippines occupying the south and east part of the Panay Island. Its location is found in the Western Visayas. The territory is bordered by the Capiz Province on the north and the Antique Province on the west. The capital of Iloilo is Iloilo City. But the city is independent from the government of Iloilo.
During the Spanish era in the Philippines, writing was a new form of import which is why there are no existing written historical accounts of Iloilo today especially on the pre-Hispanic times. There are epics told in oral history but that too has not survived much through time. The oldest existing written account of the Spanish conquest on Iloilo was Miguel de Legazpi’s transfer of headquarters to Iloilo from Cebu in 1566.
Geographically, the province has two regions dividing it. The first is the highlands which is located in its western border. The second region is the lowland and occupies a much larger portion. Second to the Sanderbans, Iloilo is known to have the largest biggest marshland in Western Visayas. Its subdivisions consist of an urban city, a component city and forty-two municipalities.
The people of Iloilo are known as Ilonggos. They have two local languages which is Hiligaynon and Kinaray-a. In the past Spanish was considered as their local language. But after the WWII the numbers of people speaking it naturally declined until most of the Ilonggos did not see it as their local language.
The high speed of the development of trade and industry in the 18th century began Iloilo’s rise in economy amongst the Visayas islands. It earned its name as “Textile Capital of the Philippines” where their products were continually exported to Manila and abroad. The upper middle class of Iloilo enjoyed their prosperity as their textile industry rose. But during the 19th century this industry began to go low because of UK’s introduction to the world of cheaper textiles.
In 1855 however, the waning of the textile industry did not depress Iloilo as it was the year when the port of the province was opened to the world market. Thus, agriculture and industry had direct contact with markets abroad. In the late 19th century Iloilo experienced a boom in its economy because of its quick development of its sugar industry. During those times sugar was on the list of one of the most in demand products. The vice-consul of Britain at that time gave loans, constructed warehouses and began introducing new methods in sugar farming. This helped a lot in the development of the industry.
The families of the province became richer and richer and started developing large areas from Negros and turned them into haciendas as the world market’s demand for sugar kept rising. As a result, it was from Iloilo that increase of firms, banks, educational institutions, commercial activity, infrastructures and foreign consulates came from. Development of economy in the province kept rising because of the sugar industry until in October 5, 1889 the Queen of Spain, Maria Cristina gave rise to the town’s status via Royal Decree establishing the city government.