ILOILO CITY, (PNA) — Various stakeholders in the city and province of Iloilo gathered Thursday to discuss comprehensively the Ilonggo culture, arts and heritage and embark on strategies to enhance Iloilo’s rich tourism potentials.
The strategies will involve the preservation and protection of the declared national treasures in the province and the declared heritage sites in both the city and the province.
Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said the programs are hoped to start the much-needed cultural mapping and action package to put the city and the province in the forefront of emerging cultural heritage revival in the Philippines.
Mabilog reported that as one of the three finalists as a business-friendly city, Iloilo City should work harder for its business and tourism attractions. The other city finalists are Mandaluyong and Olongapo.
Provincial Tourism Officer Bombette Marin said the National Commission on Culture and Arts (NCCA) declared as national treasures the three historic churches in the province, namely those the towns of San Joaquin, Miagao and Dumangas.
Declared as important heritage sites by the National Historical Institute (NHI) are the churches of Sta. Barbara, San Joaquin and Miagao. Also declared as heritage sites are the golf course in Sta. Barbara, and Casa Real, formerly the old Iloilo provincial capitol.
Marin said there are several heritage sites in the province that need declaration from the NHI. Among these are the old camposanto or cemeteries built during the Spanish times in several towns and churches in the municipalities of Leon, Janiuay, Tigbauan, Tubungan, Dingle, Leganes, Pavia, Oton and Dueñas.
The local government units must take the lead in mapping out these cultural heritage structures in their areas and have it declared by NHI, Marin said.
In Iloilo City, seven important heritage zones are currently being rehabilitated jointly by the Tourism Infrastructures Economic Zone Authority (TIEZA) of the Department of Tourism, the Iloilo City Cultural Heritage Foundation, the city government, and the office of Iloilo City Rep. Jerry P. Treñas.
These declared heritage zones are the Port San Pedro, Plaza Libertad, central business district, Jaro Plaza, Jaro Cathedral, Molo Plaza and Molo Church.