The province of Iloilo is a place of many “firsts” in Philippine history and culture. From being the site of the Malayan landing to being home to many firsts in education, commerce, transportation, and more, Iloilo has played a significant role in shaping the Philippines as we know it today.
Here are just a few of the many “firsts” that Iloilo can boast of:
- The first school for boys in the Philippines was founded in Tigbauan by the famous Jesuit priest and historian, Pedro Chirino, in 1592.
- The first place to put up a Christian church in the Philippines was Jalaud (Dumangas) in what is now the barangay of Ermita, in 1566.
- Iloilo was the first city outside of Manila to have a foreign business house (Loney & Co.) and the first foreign vice-consul.
- Iloilo was the first province to export sugar to Australia.
- Iloilo was the only province to have two cities during Spanish rule: Iloilo City and Jaro.
- Iloilo was the biggest province in the Philippines in terms of population, income, and economic production during the 19th century.
- Iloilo was the best and biggest producer of textiles during the Spanish era.
- Iloilo was the first city outside of Manila to have electricity, telephone, telegraph, railway, ice plant, automobile and other modern conveniences.
- Iloilo was the first province outside of Luzon to fly the Philippine National Flag (in Sta. Barbara, Nov. 17, 1898).
- Hoskyn & Co., established in 1877, was the first department store in the country.
Iloilo’s contributions to education and innovation are also noteworthy. The first provincial high school in the Philippines, the Iloilo National High School, was located in Iloilo. The first elementary school established under American rule, Baluarte Elementary School in Molo, was also in Iloilo. Iloilo is also home to the first protestant barrio in the country, Calvario in Janiauy, and the first Baptist Church in the Philippines, Jaro Evangelical Church.
In transportation, Iloilo was the first city outside of Manila to have direct shipping lines with Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Europe, and America. The first commercial airline in the country, the Iloilo Negros Air Express Co. (INAEC), was also based in Iloilo. The first Philippine airline established after World War II, FEATI, was organized by Ilonggos.
Iloilo has also produced many accomplished individuals, including the first Filipino to launch the propaganda movement in Spain, Graciano Lopez Jaena of Jaro, and the only Filipino nominated to the Supreme Court of Cuba, Raymundo Melliza. Jose Tinsay, an Ilonggo, was the first Filipino to fly an airplane for passengers in 1925. The province is also home to the first doctor of laws from Oxford University, Melquiades Gamboa, and the first Filipino doctor of philosophy in political science, Victorino Diamonon.
These are just a few of the many “firsts” that Iloilo can claim. From its rich history to its innovative spirit, Iloilo is a province that deserves to be discovered and celebrated.