ILOILO – A cultural and heritage landmark. This was how the National Museum of the Philippines described the redeveloped Iloilo provincial capitol complex.
“What has been realized is a complex that will be the pride of all Ilonggos, promoting its history and beauty as it continues to serve as the seat of government for the province,” according to National Museum of the Philippines director Jeremy Barnes in a message read by the chief of the Western Visayas Regional Museum, Honey Beso.
The after months of rehabilitation that started during the administration of former governor Arthur Defensor Sr., the Iloilo provincial capitol complex was finally opened to the public on Dec. 2. Inclement weather due to typhoon “Tisoy” prevented Barnes from gracing it.
The capitol complex is “now a cultural and heritage landmark and a place of education and leisure, all for the benefit of the public and visitors from all around the world,” according to Barnes.
The most prominent addition to the complex is the 15-meter long and two-meter tall bronze-colored “Panaysayon sang Paranublion Mural” which is actually not a mural but a mix of bas-relief, alto-rilievo (high relief) and full sculpture encapsulating Iloilo’s rich history and heritage.
Made of resin, fiber and plastic, it showcases, among others, the Miag-ao Fortress Church (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the ancient campo santo (cemetery) of San Joaquin town, the Spanish-period watchtower of the municipality of Guimbal, the “Barter of Panay”, Dinagyang Festival, Paraw Regatta, Philippine Revolution’s Ilonggo hero General Martin Delgado, carabaos, local birds, fishes, shells, etc.
The capitol complex has also been landscaped and planted with stately palms.
As sewage treatment plant was also added at the back of the capitol.
Soon, a multi-storey capitol parking building would rise nearby.
Barnes assured Ilonggos that the “National Museum continues to strongly support projects and activities here and in the region for the protection, preservation, study and promotion of cultural heritage, and is working hard to developing its Iloilo museum as a genuine cultural institution centered on exhibitions and public programs.”
The National Museum itself redeveloped the adjacent old Iloilo Provincial Jail into what is now the Western Visayas Regional Museum.
According to Barnes, the year “2020 will feature a dynamic schedule promoting natural history, archaeology and prehistory, and the intangible heritage of regional arts and crafts.”
“In doing our part in bringing this project to reality, we have aligned our institutional programs and resources to focus these on establishing the National Museum in Iloilo and the Western Visayas Region at the former provincial jail, which is meant to be a centerpiece and showcase of the redeveloped capitol complex, and it has been our privilege to have been able to work with the provincial government, consultant and landscape architect Paulo Alcazaren and his team, and other stakeholders towards achieving this goal,” he added.
Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr. led the inauguration of the redeveloped Iloilo provincial capitol complex. His father and namesake, the former governor, was the special guest.
The elder Defensor was emotional.
“I believe madamo man ako sang hinimoan para sa inyo. Pero may isa ako ka proyekto…ang katapusan ko proyekto nga akon gid ginhandum kag gindamgo – ang redevelopment sang capitol ground. This is my last, most treasured project for the people of Iloilo,” he said.
The former governor ended 32 years of public service on June 30, 2019 after completing his third consecutive term as governor./PN