Iloilo City, which boasts of a wide selection of heritage buildings, from old mansions to significant edifices used as commercial establishments, has restored one of its heritage sites.
The University of the Philippines (UP) Visayas' main building was formally opened to the public in a turnover ceremony held Friday, led by National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Chairman Rene Escalante.
It was restored with a P54-million grant from the NHCP through the efforts of Sen. Franklin Drilon and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda.
After the restoration, big columns, high ceiling wood frames, and wooden floors in each room were shown to the public. The school also features a courtyard, while airconditioning units were installed in the main hall.
The grills inside and outside the building were refurbished as well.
For Drilon, an alumnus of UP-Iloilo, the building will now be an icon for Ilonggos.
"It gives pride to the Ilonggos, that we are able to restore these buildings (that) make Iloilo and the Ilonggos conscious of its rich cultural, and historical background. This becomes part of our effort to really restore Iloilo to its old glory," Drilon said.
Portions of the building will be used as galleries, while important cultural events are set to be held inside the newly restored building.
The building's construction started in February 1931 and was designed by renowned architect Juan Arellano for P90,000. The building used to be the Iloilo City Hall back in 1935.
The facility, which stands on a 10,000-square meter lot donated to the local government of Iloilo, has a neo-classical design highly popular during the 1930s.
One of its more popular features, the law and order statues, were designed by renowned Italian sculptor Francesco Riccardo Monti.
In 1945, the Iloilo City Council passed Resolution No. 485 for the establishment of a junior college of the University of the Philippines in Iloilo, a time when World War II was still raging.
According to Dr. Randy Madrid of the UP Center for West Visayan Studies, the building was used as a hideout by Japanese troops during the war. Japanese soldiers occupied the building in 1942 and, because of its expanse, it was converted into a garrison.
After the war, the Iloilo city council unanimously approved Resolution No. 461 formally donating the pre-war city hall and its site for the exclusive use of UP-Iloilo College, which opened in July 1947.