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South’s former ‘queen city’ aiming to recover past glory

01:14 AM November 28, 2014

The advertisement asking, “Do not block Iloilo’s economic and social development” (Page A4, 11/12/14) which was issued by the concerned citizens of Iloilo City, says it all: The citizens condemn all contrarian efforts to destroy the Ilonggos’ dream of recapturing Iloilo’s title as Queen City of the South. They assert that the construction of the almost P1-billion Iloilo Convention Center is one of the major developments in the city that has inspired Ilonggos in their quest to bring back the prosperity and glory that they used to enjoy from the Commonwealth period to the 1970s, when Iloilo City was considered the Queen City of the South.

It may be remembered that Iloilo City was the most progressive city outside of Metro Manila prior to the martial law period because it was the sugar trading center of the country, linked directly to the US sugar industry. It was during this period when imposing ancestral mansions and big commercial buildings mushroomed in the city. Most of these mansions and buildings have been preserved, thereby making Iloilo City one of the country’s few heritage centers. No wonder, Iloilo City was short-listed in the world’s livable cities. In recent years, the city government further strengthened its heritage initiatives in partnership with the private sector’s Cultural Heritage Conservation Council. No wonder, today, if you walked around the streets of JM Basa, Iznart, Guanco, Aldeguer, and Plaza Libertad, a sense of déjà vu engulfs you.

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Definitely, aside from those government-initiated projects, more must be done to recapture the past glory of Iloilo City. The private sector must be more active in the economic field. The Ilonggos are economic conservatives as shown by the more than P50 billion in deposits lying serenely in bank vaults in the city as reported by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in recent years. Except that it seems only Injap Sia of Mang Inasal fame has the entrepreneurial courage to break into vigorous economic activity.

Sadtong 1970s, nagapanguna ang Iloilo City sa Cebu City kag Cagayan de Oro City (In the 1970s, Iloilo City was more progressive than Cebu City and Cagayan de Oro City). Today, the income of Iloilo City is only about P1.2 billion, against Cebu’s P3 billion and Cagayan de Oro City’s P1.6 billion.

Bugtaw na Ilonggos!

—EDWARD B. CONTRERAS,

Pryce Plaza, Cagayan de Oro City

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TAGS: Iloilo, news, Queen City of the South, regions
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