Iloilo is located at the heart of the Philippine archipelago and prides itself as the "Food Basket and Rice Granary of Western Visayas."
Aside from being an agricultural powerhouse, Iloilo is one of the richest fishing grounds in the country. Its waters teem with tuna, grouper and blue marlin, while shrimps, prawns, milkfish and other famous marine varieties are cultured in fish farms.
Iloilo is known as one of the country’s most important provinces. Even before Spanish colonization, China and India have already been trading with the Ilonggos.
For four consecutive years since 2013, Iloilo province has topped the Excellence in Local Governance (EXCELL) Awards given by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Regional Office VI.
The name ‘Iloilo’ is derived from the word, ‘irong-irong’ which means ‘nose-like’. The term is derived from the fact that the province has a river with a nose-shaped formation from a bird’s eye view.
Iloilo is one of the largest provinces in the Western Visayas region. It occupies a huge portion of the Panay Island and is bordered by Capiz to the north, Antique to the west, the Guimaras Strait to the east, the Jintolo Channel to the northeast, Panay Gulf and Iloilo Strait to the southwest.
Residents of the province are called Ilonggos. Three local languages are spoken in Iloilo: Hiligaynon (Ilonggo), Kinaray-a and Capiznon. Spanish used to be a predominant language, but the number of Spanish speakers strongly declined after the Second World War. Because of this, Spanish is no longer considered a local language.
Iloilo’s rich colonial history is reflected on the heritage, culture and traditions of the Ilonggos including their dances, songs, literature and architecture. Some of the province’s festivals are famous in the country. Iloilo also has a significant influence on the economy and politics of the Philippines.
Due to the good political will, industry and collectivist nature of the Ilonggos, Iloilo’s ‘economic boom’ resulted in the robust creation of jobs and wealth for its residents. Iloilo was eventually transformed into one of the most competitive provinces in the Philippines.
Iloilo’s economic success is also attributed to its accessibility. The Iloilo International Airport is the primary gateway to the province and serves regular direct flights from other major cities like Manila, Davao, Cebu, General Santos, Cagayan de Oro and Puerto Princesa. The airport also serves international flights from Iloilo to Singapore and Hong Kong. Flights are served by the major airlines of the country like Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, TigerAir and PAL Express.
From Manila, air travel to Iloilo would take around an hour, thirty minutes from Cebu, three hours and thirty minutes from Singapore, and two hours and thirty minutes from Hong Kong.
Iloilo is also accessible by sea. Various seaports and ferry terminals are found all throughout the province and they serve shipping companies with routes to Manila, Cebu, Zamboanga, Guimaras, Bacolod and Cagayan de Oro. By direct ferry, Iloilo is roughly 15 minutes away from Guimaras, its nearest island neighbor, and 1.5 hours away from Bacolod. The world-famous ‘Boracay island’ is also accessible from Iloilo via land travel, which would take approximately 4 to 5 hours.
Life in the province of Iloilo has been propelled forward since the development of the Iloilo International Airport, the districts of San Rafael, Mandurriao, Diversion Road, and communities along the Iloilo River. Ilonggos now proudly take on a more contemporary and modern lifestyle with towering condominiums and high-residences proliferating across the province. These modern styles of living have become quite appealing to the residents due to their accessibility, convenience and affordability.
Due to this increase in demand for such residential spaces and properties, builders and community developers have transformed the city into a primary choice of migration among Filipinos and foreigners.
But aside from its vibrant economy and quick development, Iloilo’s peaceful environment, delicious food and good-natured people make it an attractive place to live for new residents and expatriates. Stressors like traffic and urban congestion typically found in big cities like Manila and Cebu are rare in Iloilo.
The province is also endowed with beautiful environmental features like white sand beaches, mountains, waterfalls, caves, numerous islets and other natural wonders that continue to impress locals and visitors. Some of the famous sights and landmarks in Iloilo include Isla de Gigantes, Santo Tomas de Villanueva Church, the Molo Mansion, Baras Cave, Bulabog Puti-an National Park, Jaro Cathedral, and many others.