Home > Ilong-Ilonganon > Pamalandong on Iloilo History

Pamalandong on Iloilo History

aerial view of iloilo river

aerial view of iloilo river

Lack of knowledge can be daunting especially in a situation when you are caught off-guard. This is what happened to me the other day when my younger cousin asked why our place was called Iloilo. Sensing that she might have been devouring topics on the history of places such as the origin of Manila or Cebu, I asked her why she was interested. She gave me a shrug, “I was just asking.” She continued to say that nobody speaks much of Iloilo’s origins except for the accounts of Tomas Confesor, Gen. Martin Delgado and Gen. Quintin Salas and not a great deal about the history of our place per se. It was difficult for me to answer except for the few facts that have been embedded in me by my boring highschool teachers. And what I know of Iloilo is very limited to the simple information that native Ilonggos named it after the shape of the Iloilo River whose meanders resemble the shape of the “nose” or ilong. Since Iloilo is predominantly Karay-a speaking people where “L” is substituted with “R” it was first called Irong-irong. Due to the changing formation of the local lexicon which has been tainted with the incorporation of Spanish terms, the name Irong-irong was changed to Iloilo.

“Why is it called Iloilo?” is no ordinary query because a little distortion may create a big error in the future learning, thus a deep pamalandong is needed. Pamalandong here means a very deep reflection which does not limit knowledge to learning but experiencing as well. In the English language, it means “altruism” yet it connotes more “reflection.” Pa in Hiligaynon is a prefix which means “going to” or “to indulge” while landong means “shadow” or “under the guidance of.” Thus, pamalandong literally means “going into the shadow of.” Another beauty of this term is the notion that it goes with silence therefore signifying a critical analysis of the past. In delving into history, it is not just the hard facts that matter but the hues that surround the events that make it more important. One has to know the ways and the emotions to inject alacrity among the readers.

To make my point sturdy and credible, I explored the Provincial Library and the UP – Western Visayas Center for Culture and the Arts Studies. I was amazed to find good sources that could point out to this historical conjecture. However good, there is a dearth for such books which only proves that Ilonggos are not particular in their quest of history. They say that Ilonggos have lost their passion in excavating their past and trying to muster a concrete panorama of the odyssey of Ilonggo people. History then becomes esoteric stuff where it only applies to few who have chosen this line of discipline thus limiting the spread of knowledge among the people. I guess we all need a good pamalandong on this.

I realized that a simple historical research will lead to an insatiable drive for the past. In the case of Iloilo, I not only discovered that because the Spanish could not utter the “ng” well, and the “R” of the natives irked them, they dropped the former name and changed it to Iloilo but much more. But why of all things, the river became the basis of the name and not the vast plain of Iloilo that during the 16th century was blessed with booming sugarcane and rice production compared with other provinces in the entire Visayan Region? The thirst for an answer prompted me to dig more in the library. However, I couldn’t find exact answers to this except the little information I’ve gathered from few academic books. This lot led me to use my own logic in the way of pamalandong. I guess the reason behind was that the Iloilo River was no ordinary river. Unlike other rivers which root from great mountains then flow down to create a river delta, Iloilo river begins from the sea and ends in the sea. You get the picture? It is not actually a river but a sea estuary (which logically means that it has brackish water) that makes it a unique body of water. Although geologists don’t agree in calling this as Iloilo River, we could not blame our folks for their lack of terminologies. What they perceived as a long body of water with narrow borders was automatically termed a river. Estuary for the academic regards will be acceptable but will remain excusable to be called a river by the common people.

Aside from that, Iloilo was well known of its major river systems that traversed the whole province. It was through these rivers that agricultural crops became abundant and effectually put the name of Iloilo as the rice granary of Visayas. Since this land was populated by heathens, they gave the river a special praise for serving as the life-blood of crop production. That might also be one reason why they chose to name this place based on the mightiest and strangest river they knew – the Irong-irong River. Alas, there are no documents that would support my postulate because the first thing that Spaniards did when they first arrived in Iloilo was to proselytize the natives into Christianity and obliterate all practices that reciprocate the dogmas of the church. Sayang!

Despite the knowledge gap, simply because there are no adequate sources or that I have not been eager enough to look for more reference, I can never help but to give conjecture on the notion of the river in relation to the name Iloilo. According to Fr. Policarpio Hernandez OSA in his records of the past, the Iloilo River served to be a channel of trade in 1855 from Villa Rica de Oton-Arevalo to what is now called Iloilo City. During those times, Iloilo stood to have the biggest international commercial port complex outside Manila. The active relation on commerce and trade with other countries made Iloilo the host of galleon trade from Visayas to Mollucas; this put Iloilo as the Queen City of the South before Cebu took hold of the title.

These accounts only show why the river is very important to the Ilonggos and there is no wonder why they named the place in lieu of the most prominent Iloilo River. I just hope that next time somebody will asks me about Iloilo, I have a little dose of knowledge to arm myself.

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Categories: Ilong-Ilonganon Tags: ,
  1. O
    November 28, 2008 at 4:24 am

    Continue digging for great information like this and share it again with the rest of us. Salamat. 😉

  2. totomel
    November 30, 2008 at 10:45 am

    thank you for your encouragement O. its my pleasure to post info like this to let you know 😉

  3. December 1, 2008 at 2:58 am

    aysa parts. nabantayan nako ha nga sige ka ilis ug design. hehe. kugihan kaayo 🙂

  4. inkpoton
    December 1, 2008 at 3:10 am

    nag identity crisis pa ni iyang header. :p
    joke lang!!!

  5. totomel
    December 1, 2008 at 4:50 am

    mao jud gani..nagcge ra ug trial and error.hehehe.pero permanente na ni, dont worry.hahaha

  6. josie
    December 6, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Thank you.

    Very good info.

    Just wondering where did the spaniards land first in Panay island(as far as I know it means plenty) when they are searching for food and supply coming from eastern visaya.

    M

  7. josie
    December 6, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    May be you can right an article what is the story of iloilo and panay,there way of life before the spaniards came.

    There are some info can be seen on the web like wikpedia and others and other countries are putting up a internet library like EU,lot of historian and computer programmer is needed.

    Philippinepedia.

  8. totomel
    December 8, 2008 at 12:26 am

    thanks for visiting my site josie. when i have the time, ill research for that and will post it in wikipedia.
    in the case of where the spaniards docked, it was in aklan delta before they moved up to pan-ay capiz and eventually to oton, iloilo.

  9. March 11, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    very informative. this article is a nice read.

  1. December 6, 2008 at 4:53 am

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