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S. Villanueva Building (International House) now on restoration

Submitted by on May 20, 2012 – 10:57 am6 Comments


The icon of Iloilo’s heritage buildings has now taken its turn for restoration work. The third restoration project and by far the largest in size and in magnitude, the Villanueva Building Restoration is now poised to become the poster work for the conservation efforts in the old Iloilo Business District. The art-deco design building had been featured in several travel and in-flight magazines, and commonly represents the city of Iloilo. Beautiful yet neglected in several generations, the Villanueva Building is now receiving the attention it rightfully deserves.

Here are some of the project features:


As with the previous restorations at Calle Real, the Villanueva Building effort is undertaken by AC Sangrador & Associates. The project is sponsored by Iloilo Cultural Heritage Foundation, Inc. with its president, Manuel E. Villar Jr., and with the cooperation of Iloilo City Cultural Heritage Conservation Council and the building owner, Mr. Mario Jalandoni. The project was approved by Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog.

The Villanueva Building

Built during the height of the Commonwealth Era, the Villanueva Building also known as the International House incorporates Art Deco design which was commonly used at that time. Simple yet elegant, the building sits on one of Calle Real’s busiest intersections.

After years of neglect, the building suffered degradation. With three floors of commercial space, the building is now home to several establishments, from eye wear shops, hardware, and bazaar (tiangge). Numerous street vendors occupy the pavement and sidewalks around the building, making the scene cluttered. These pose challenges to the restoration work, as the project entails strict compliance to Conservation Planning and Development Guidelines for the Downtown Central Business District (CBD) Heritage Zone. Some of these include regulation of signage and possible relocation of street vendors to kiosks that complement the streetscape and architecture of the district.

Hope for Calle Real

With development projects such as the pedestrianization of Calle Real, the revitalization of the Central Market, and restoration projects, the old business district is now gradually regaining its former glory. Once the shopping capital of the country, probably in Southeast Asia, the Calle Real saw the prosperity of the sugar trade fund the construction of several beautiful art deco buildings, most of which still stood today, albeit in sad state of disrepair.

Today, the  Iloilo Cultural Heritage Foundation, Inc. is working closely with the city government of Iloilo in addressing these two difficult issues confronting the revitalization and restoration projects at Calle Real:

  1. Bundle or reduce the number of those unsightly cables festooning from building to building, marring Calle Real’s skyline.
  2. Pass a city ordinance requiring all commercial establishments on Calle Real to revise their signage to conform to specifications to be defined by the Iloilo Heritage & Conservation Council. The objective is to achieve the “heritage street” ambiance & look.
We can help realize these efforts by expressing our support to the foundation by sharing this information among our friends in the social media. 
The Iloilo Cultural Heritage Foundation, Inc. was organized in 2011 and duly registered with the SEC. That Iloilo City can be “The Premier City of the South” is the spirit that moves the Foundation. Its mission and vision are based on the firm belief that Iloilo City’s Calle Real and its 1920-1930’s buildings, when regenerated are an ECONOMIC RESOURCE of the city. The Foundation aims, to start, by restoring the facades of Calle Real’s vintage buildings to their old glory, salvage and recapture our heritage, put Iloilo City on the list of heritage cities and transform Iloilo into an attractive tourist destination with the attendant economic benefits.

Today, with strong political will and conservation mindset of the citizens of Iloilo City and its leaders, there is hope for Calle Real. It is now envisioned as a main business district that can rival those in other countries, hopefully like those of Singapore’s Orchard Road or Tokyo’s Ginza Street in the future (but with historic touch).

So kudos to my fellow kasimanwas and our city leaders who are spearheading these projects! All the best for Calle Real!

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  • Alfred Adrian P. Chavez says:

    I hope that Ilonggos will be more open minded in supporting this gesture. I believe the efforts poured on these projects will really result in putting Iloilo City back in the limelight again. Mark, I hope you could post pictures of the second building. Thanks Mark

    • Mark Segador says:

      yes, last time i checked, there are still bamboo scaffolding in the S. Villanueva (RCBC) building. i will visit it again soon. this is another heritage in the making, much like the renaissance of Iloilo. looking back in the past and looking forward to our progress…

      • Alfred Adrian P. Chavez says:

        Thank you Mark. How I wish later on when the pedestrianization of the Calle Real become a reality, more activities and fun in order to attract more tourists. Since International flights will soon be accommodated in the Iloilo Int’l airport, I hope we will become more aggressive in promoting Iloilo as a destination of choice for many OFWs…

  • Vic says:

    thanks Mark , I guess , among the bloggers , youre always the first to update with fresh info about Iloilo , my sincerest commendation and we have here in our fingertips easy access to those .

    • Alfred Adrian P. Chavez says:

      I agree Vic. That’s why everytime I surf the net, Iloiloilove.com is always one of my most viewed site since I get to know and see what’s going on in Iloilo City. Hat’s off to you Mark.

  • janer says:

    I suggest that the kiosks should have their own area where they can put their stalls on and not beside/in front of the building. Furthermore, the marquees and sign boards of these business establishments must have a preferred measurements and must be limited to post streamers so as not to conceal or destroy the facade of the building… no matter how many restorations will happen if these guidelines won’t be put into actions our heritage buildings will still continue to suffer the same fate.

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