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Iloilo City, officially the City of Iloilo (Hiligaynon: Dakbanwa/Syudad sang Iloilo; Kinaray-a: Syudad kang/ka Iloilo; Filipino: Lungsod ng Iloilo; Spanish: Ciudad de Iloílo) is a highly urbanized city on the southeastern tip of Panay island in the Philippines. It is the capital city of the province of Iloilo where it is geographically situated but, in terms of government and administration, it is politically independent. In addition, it is the center of the Iloilo-Guimaras Metropolitan Area, as well as the regional center and primate city of the Western Visayas region. In the 2015 census, Iloilo City had a population of 447,992 inhabitants, with a 1.02% population annual growth rate. For the metropolitan area, the total population is 946,146 inhabitants.
Iloilo City is bordered by the towns of Oton in the west, Pavia in the north and Leganes in the northeast. Just across the Iloilo Strait in its eastern and southern coastlines, are the towns of Buenavista and Jordan in the island-province of Guimaras. The city was a conglomeration of former towns, which are now the geographical districts consisting of: Villa Arevalo, Iloilo City Proper, Jaro (an independent city before), La Paz, Mandurriao and Molo. The district of Lapuz, a former part of La Paz, was declared a separate district in 2008.The city’s earliest establishment dates back in 1566 when Ogtong, a town west of the city, was established when Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi moved his headquarters from the island of Cebu. Later due to the frequent coastal raids by the Moro pirates and Dutch and English privateers, the Spanish Governor General Gonzalo Ronquillo de Peñalosa moved the colonial center in Panay island from the town of Ogtong (Oton) eastward and formally founded the town of La Villa Rica de Arévalo (Arévalo) in 1581, a present day district of Iloilo City.
Iloilo City earned its title “La Muy Leal y Noble Ciudad” (Most Loyal and Noble City) through a royal decree by Queen Regent Maria Cristina of Spain through the city’s loyalty to the Spanish crown during the Philippine revolution thus it earned its moniker through that title as the Queen’s City of the South or Queen Regent’s City of the South, a title that through the years because of Iloilo’s socio-economic importance and prominence next to Manila during Spanish colonial period has been colloquially referred to its form as Queen City of the South. The city’s Spanish inception and the royal decree further implies its status and reputation as the Second Spanish Royal City after Manila in the Philippines.
Iloilo is known as the “Heart of the Philippines” and “(Asia’s) City of Love” because of Iloilo and Panay Island’s central location in the Philippines and the soft and gentle spoken Ilonggo people, and as “Emerging Museum City of the Philippines” and “City of Mansions” because of heritage structures and mansions clustered in the city built during the Spanish and American colonial eras.
The city’s district of the former city of Jaro is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Jaro with its widely venerated patron Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria enshrined at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Candles (Jaro Cathedral), is the official patron of Western Visayas and Romblon. The Marian statue of Candelaria perched atop the facade of Jaro Cathedral is the only Marian statue and image in the Philippines personally crowned by a pope and saint (Pope John Paul II).
The United States colonization of the Philippine islands, with Iloilo as one of the first American colonial outposts and with the Americans brought their faith the Protestantism, paved the way in founding of numerous institutions that made Iloilo pioneer in the Philippines through the establishment of the American titan John D. Rockefeller funded Central Philippine University, the first Baptist and second American and Protestant university in the Philippines and in Asia; Iloilo Mission Hospital, the first Protestant and Am …