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Iloilo Cultural Heritage Foundation bares future projects for Calle Real

Submitted by on August 16, 2012 – 8:45 pm4 Comments


There are so many good news I would love to share with you regarding the developments at the restoration efforts at Calle Real. The Iloilo Cultural Heritage Foundation Inc. has lined up several projects that will surely bring back the grandeur of the old central business district. Restoration efforts are now in full swing and there are still several ones in the pipeline. The Foundation, in its mission not only to restore the beauty of Calle Real but also to spread awareness among Ilonggos the importance of caring for our heritage structures and landmarks, has also launched the Iloilo Heritage Awards. Now that’s only part of the news, there’s more. 

That “Iloilo City can once more become the Queen’s City of the South or assume the title the Premier City of the South” is the founding spirit of the Iloilo Cultural Heritage Foundation (ICHFI). Incorporated in November 2011, ICHFI is comprised of different personalities ranging from business, architecture, academia, tourism and public service. Officers are President, Manuel E. Villa Jr.; Vice President Antonio Sangrador; Treasurer, Susan Florete; Secretary, Manuel Joseph Barredo; Trustees: Marilou Arcelo, Jose Mari Chan, Maria Rosa Cacho, Sebastian Jardiolin, Pedro Ortigas, Yolanda Pajaro, Sarah Salcedo, Kristin Trenas, Joemarie Trenas, Victoria Villa, and Felipe Uygongco.

The foundation’s president, Mr. Manuel Villa, Jr. is the leading voice in converting Calle Real as a Heritage Street. A feat, once completed, will make the downtown at par with walk through shopping and commercial strips like that of Singapore’s Orchard Road or those at Europe.

ICHFI has since then completed the restoration of the facades of the Serafin Villanueva Buildings on JM Basa corner Arsenal Streets. In support of the ICHFI’s efforts, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) has restored the facades of its building, another S. Villanueva to note. The current project, the restoration of Eusebio Villanueva building, or commonly known as International Hotel (others use House), will be completed this month.

Now for the good news, the Javellana Building along the intersection of Calle Real and Guanco Street will also be restored through the sponsorship of a major Philippine bank. The project will commence next month.

Other heritage buildings to be restored in the near future: Dominican Sisters Building, Iloilo Lucky Auto Supply, and the Divinagracia Building.

Update (OCTOBER 2012): Restoration projects both for Iloilo Lucky Auto Supply or Ng Be Chuat & Sons Building, and the Divinagracia-Alba Building started last September. For Javellana and Dominican Sisters Building, the schedule of the restoration will be announced soon. 


Iloilo Lucky Auto Supply

The Iloilo Lucky Auto Supply Building or Ng Be Chuat & Sons, Inc. Building


Divinagracia building

Divinagracia-Alba Building


Javellana Building

The Javellana Building at Calle Real


Dominican Sisters

The Dominican Sisters Building


ICHFI is also working on providing new durable kiosk units to hawkers and vendors along Calle Real. These kiosks will provide a consistent look among the little shops at the heritage area.


Proposed Kiosk


Actual Kiosk

The foundation is also proposing the establishment of a heritage police that will safe guard the historical zone of Calle Real.

ICHFI is also in talks with the Cacho Family to loan the lot where the once magnificent Cacho Building stood, to convert it to a heritage plaza.



Fronting JM Basa / Fountain





Furthermore, Mr. Villa also announced plans by the owner of Palace Theater, now Regent Arcade to also restore the facade of Iloilo’s first cinema.

Another heritage structure, the Marquez Lim Balay Nga Bato (erected in 1912) will be restored to its former glory. But with a twist! A museum featuring the different processes of manufacturing and treating abaca will be placed on the 2nd floor of the house.



With continued support from the private sector, ICHFI believes it can carry out at least 15 building restorations along JM Basa. Mr. Villa also appeals to fellow Ilonggos to support these restoration projects through donations.


Support from Department of Tourism

The restoration of Calle Real is seen by the Department of Tourism Region 6 to bolster the tourism portfolio of Iloilo City. Atty. Helen Catalbas, OIC of DOT Reg6, also announced the coming of Hong Kong Tourism Board and Singapore Tourism Board to promote their destinations to Ilonggos. Consequently, the DOT Reg6 is also setting up a sales team to visit their counterparts in both countries to encourage tourists to come and experience the beauty of Iloilo. This is part of the government’s effort in making Iloilo’s stature as international gateway for tourists a sustainable one.

It is also noteworthy to share that the Aquino Administration is targeting 10 million foreign tourists arrivals by 2016, 1.3 Million of which is targeted by Iloilo Province alone.

Launching of Iloilo Cultural Heritage Awards

Going back to the Iloilo Cultural Heritage Awards, ICHFI announced this annual event to recognize outstanding commitment and contribution to heritage conservation, restoration and the promotion of heritage of Iloilo City. According to Mr. Villa, this activity will honor individuals and organizations whose work have resulted in significant initiatives and achievements in the promotion and conservation of the many facets of Iloilo City’s rich cultural heritage.

This year’s awardees will include organizations and personalities involved in successful implementation of the first three restoration projects of the Foundation. Also included are people behind the commendable preservation of the Lizares Mansion (now Angelicum School Iloilo) and the exemplary adaptive reuse of the Avancena House, now commonly known as Camina Balay nga Bato.

The awards will be bestowed by the Iloilo Cultural Heritage Foundation, Inc., the Office of the City Mayor, and Department of Tourism Region 6. It will be presented to the recipients on August 25, 2012 at the Mayor’s Ball celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Iloilo City Charter Day.

The restoration and revival of Calle Real has both tangible and intangible benefits for the people of the Iloilo City. It’s our city, this is our legacy.

Completed and On-going Projects on Calle Real:




1923 S. Villanueva at Calle Real corner Arsenal Street


RCBC Building (another S. Villanueva) also at Arsenal Street














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  • NonoyB says:

    I am so happy of this news, I also noticed, when I was going to work, a building being restored at the right side of Soccoro drug store inside the newly constructed chinese arch. Hoping also that part of the city, going from Plazoleta Gay to the Central Market, is also planned for such restoration. One incomplete restoration that ticks my mind off right now is the one across Soccoro’s right side where only 3 parts of the said building has been repainted while the rest still lokks crappy as ever, it even looks worst now highlighting the old facade by the new one, hope they take action on this also.

  • NonoyB says:

    The buildings that I was talking about is Villanueva Building along Ledesma St., while the one being restored is the LJ Hormillosa Building at Iznart.

  • pat m says:

    Sana my souvenir shops sa calle real. It’s more interesting to walk through the heritage site while eyeing on some souvenirs.

    • m.sigaya says:

      the kiosks as designed looks great but there should be a strict policy and guidelines on extensions and overhangs of items for sale so as to maintain the good and orderly total look of the area. Allowing one or two kiosks to go overboard will result in everyone doing it and the disorderly ambiance would destroy the ideal look it is planned to project not only for the tourists but even for the locals.

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