Iloilo City was once the capital of the Philippines when it was under Spanish rule. Once called “The Noble City” it was established in 1700 at the mouth of the Iloilo River where the Spaniards built Fort San Pedro as protection against pirates and English and Dutch forces who were attempting to cut off trade.
Because of its history, Iloilo City still has many historic buildings that are the remnants of that era.
One of the most historic streets in the city is Calle Real, which leads into Plaza Libertad which was built in honour of national hero Jose Rizal. This is where you will find Fort San Pedro, as well as many other historic buildings including the Lacson Ancestral House, the Masonic Temple, and the remnants of Botica Lacson and Iglesia de San Jose de Placer.
Another landmark on Calle Real is Arroyo Fountain which sits at the centre of a roundabout a streets lead off in all directions. One of these is the JM Basa Street, which is one of Iloilo’s most important shopping streets where many a great bargain can be had.
Iloilo Province is separately governed from the city. It is comprised of both the south eastern part of Panay Island together with island-province of Guimaras which is just across the coast. There are many magnificent beaches in the province, and because Iloilo is not one of the Philippines tourist hotspots it is possible to find yourself on a great beach that you will have practically all to yourself.
In the northern part of the province are a number of offshore islands, some of which are rarely visited. One that is worth visiting, though, is Isla de Gigantes which has two islands, one on the north and the other in the south, sharing the name.
Gigantes Norte is the main area where the locals live and is also where the Gigantes Lighthouse, Gigantes National Museum, Baquitan Cave and Langub Cave are found. Gigantes Sur is where most of the popular tourist spots are.
One of these is the Tangke which is located on the southern side of Barangay Gabi in Isla de Gigantes Sur. This is a hidden saltwater lagoon that is formed by a surrounding wall of granite cliffs. To gain entry you need to climb the walls surrounding the walls, but the clarity of the lagoon makes the effort worthwhile.