Iloilo General Tourist Info
Before you begin your excursion into the many attractions in Iloilo, having some idea of the facts and figures regarding the province will come in handy.
Location and Geography
Situated in the western part of the Visayas, Iloilo is flanked to the north by Capiz, and to the west by Antique. The province also occupies a portion of the Island of Panay. Off Panay Island are the island of Guimaras and the Panay Gulf. Iloilo City is the capital.
Geographically speaking, Iloilo can be divided and classified in two groups: the Madia-as range, comprising the highlands in the western section, and the lower plains that make up the rest of the land. There are also some small islands situated in the northern coast, notably Socogon and Pan de Monay.
The geography of Iloilo can be roughly segregated into two components; the upper one is composed of the higher lands and hills, while the majority is made up of plains. There are also several mountain ranges, especially in between Iloilo and Capiz. Apart from Capiz, the province is also bordered by Antique. Panay Island is also part of the province.
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The climate in Iloilo is somewhat akin to that in Metro Manila. The summer months begin in March and lasts up to May. The rainy period starts from June and continues onward until September. The period from October to February is usually characterized as summer too, but lately this period, especially the ones from November to late January, have been classified as winter. There is no rain, but there are cold periods, especially early in the mornings.
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The proximity of the province to the seas makes the province, in particular the northern region, a prime source of fish and the development of aquaculture and various forms of marine life. The lowlands, on the other hand, have a rich soil, ideal for planting crops. For this reason a majority of the inhabitants engage in farming, and it is the main source of livelihood.
Facts & Figures
Total Number of Municipalities: 42, subdivided into 1,900 barangays.
Population: As of 2007, approx. 2,000,000
Land Area: 4,700 sq. km (2,800 sq. m)
Administration: Iloilo province is run by a Governor, Vice Governor, six Congressmen representing the six districts in the House of Representatives and five Board Members. The cities and municipalities are run by mayors, vice mayors and a council comprised of 12 members. All government officials are elected.
All the local inhabitants of Iloilo are called Ilonggos. A sizeable majority stems from the Malay-Polynesian race, but there are also an increasing number of Ilonggos mixed with European and Chinese blood. There are also people who have Spanish blood. The influence of Spain can be seen mainly in Iloilo City where several structures and edifices bear the imprint of the country.
There are two main languages spoken throughout, Hiligaynon (also called Ilonggo) and Kinaraya. A lot of Ilonggos can speak both, but in general, Hiligaynon can be mostly heard in Iloilo City and the surrounding municipalities, while Kiranayan is the dialect of choice in the other parts of the province. However, it should be noted that an increasing number of Ilonggos are now trilingual. They are able to converse in either Hiligaynon or Kinaraya as well as Tagalog and English.
There are numerous Internet providers in Iloilo. The capitol boasts of several malls that sell Internet pre paid cards. There are also plenty of Internet cafes that allow you to use the Web, and the hotel services in the city and other towns have also made online access a priority.
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The electricity in Iloilo is supplied by a variety of sources. One of them is the National Power Corporation (Napocor), the Panay Electric Company and several other power producers. Among the projects of the Napocor is a 15MB diesel power plant. There are also electric power generators, coal, biomass and wind energy.
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A Short History Lesson
It is an accepted fact that even before the arrival of the Spaniards in the 15th century in the Philippines, there was already a thriving culture living in Iloilo and the surrounding lands.
There was a thriving culture in the province but not much is known as very little was written down. During the Spanish era the province became heavily influenced by their culture as can be determined through a visit to their various hotspots, in particular the Old Downtown where several authentic Spanish style homes can be seen.
However, it is difficult to present an accurate picture of what life was like during those times because what few things were written down were done so on leaves. This meant that very few have been preserved, and most of what is known of pre Hspanic Iloilo comes from oral traditions that have come down in the form of legends and folk tales.
During the Spanish colonization, Panay Island and much of the province were conquered by Miugel Lopez de Legazpi, and it is also known that for a while he established his base of operations there. Iloilo history also spoke of the frequent battles between the Spaniards in the area and the Dutch and Moro peoples.
World War II saw much of Iloilo fall into the hands of the Japanese. From 1942 to 1945, the local residents engaged in guerilla warfare against the invaders and they helped the combined American and Filipino forces in liberating the province in 1945.
Following the liberation of the city in 1945 from the hands of the Japanese, the capital was quickly rehabilitated and has been elevated to first class status.
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The Iloilo Airport
The Iloilo airport is found at Barangay Duyan-Duyan in the midst of Cabatuan. It is only half an hour away from the capitol, and all the major airlines, including PAL, Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines operate there.
The airport has several modern facilities, including a shuttle service, as well as several taxis. There are also jeepneys that can take you to the location. The passenger terminal is about 12,000 sq meters, and is capable of accommodating more than a million passengers annually. The departure and arrival locations are distinct to make it easier to come and go. In addition there are ten check in counters for faster processing.
Other features are the flight information system, passenger boarding bridges, x-ray machines, lounges, smoking areas, phones, booking sectors, lost and found section and areas specially designed for the handicapped.
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Money Changers and ATMs
Being a first class city, there are now several ATMs in Iloilo, with all the major banks like BPI, Banco de Oro, UCPB and the others having branches there. If you are looking for money changers in Iloilo, a lot of these banks offer this service too. Some rural banks, like Valiant Bank in Mabini Street near the Robinson’s shopping center, also provide this service. One of the most popular money changers there is the Kiryu Money Changer at Valeria St, also in the capital city.
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Visa for Foreign Tourists
The visa for foreign tourists in Iloilo work in pretty much the same way as it does in other parts of the Philippines. Once you are at the Bureau of Immigration, be sure to show your outgoing ticket because it will be necessary, as well as your visitor visa. In some cases the passport will be given a stamp of approval rather than requiring a visa.
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Getting Visa Extensions
The process for getting visa extensions in Iloilo likewise follows the usual procedure: when you first arrive you will be given a visa good for 21 days. When that expires you can get an extension by heading over to the Immigration office, where it can be lengthened for up to 38 days. The final extension is for up to 59 days. Afterwards the process has to be repeated. The cost varies but the minimum is 1,800 Php and can go up to 3,800 Php. There are now several travel agencies that will automatically take care of this process for you.
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Iloilo tourism is growing at a tremendous pace, thanks to increasing awareness of the various attractions that abound. For nature lovers there are the Igbaras mountain ranges, the Nadsadjan Falls and Iyang Beach.
Several beautiful islands are also scattered about, including Sicogon and Danao-Danao. Some of the most pristine beaches in the country are found here including Antonia Beach and Bolobadiangan Beach. There are also the churches in Leon and Molo as well as the Bulabog Puti-an National Park and the Chameleon Butterfly Garden.
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