Lagkaw: An Iloilo City Hall's Odyssey

A city hall is where the local government of a city conducts its daily operations. While the Iloilo Provincial Capitol was consistent with its current location and history at the end of Iznart Street, Iloilo City Hall has moved location several times in its history. It moved from place to place, only settling on its own site during the Commonwealth Era and currently in Plaza Libertad. Because of this, I had a curious question back then where the municipal/city government ng Iloilo before the 1937 Old City Hall and after its donation to the University of the Philippines in 1947?

The Old Iloilo City Hall from 1937 to 1947. It was designed by renowned architect Juan Arellano. Relief done by Francesco Monti. It served as Japanese garrison during World War II. It was donated to the University of the Philippines in 1947 during the administration of Fernando Lopez. It is a National Historical Landmark and currently houses the Center for West Visayan Studies of UP Visayas. (Photo by Berniemack Arellano, 2019)

In the 50th Anniversary Souvenir of Iloilo Chinese Chamber of Commerce in 1961, the article “City Sanz City Hall,” they enumerated the locations (which needs further research) of the City Hall during the American Occupation of the Philippines to 1960s. 

  1. 1900-1922 - an “unpretentious” building somewhere at General Hughes and Rizal Street. It is during the administration of Jose Gay, Matias Ybiernas, Juan de Leon, Rosauro Jocson, Quirico Abeto, Gerardo Hervas, and Vicente Ybiernas.
  2. 1922-1931 - a concrete building owned by US Army in front of Casino Español. It was during the time of the administration led by Serapion Torre.
  3. 1931-1936 - building owned by Maria Gay near Don Ruperto Montinola Residence along Iznart St. 
  4. 1937-1945 - Current UP Visayas Main Building. It was vacated by the administration of Maximino Jalandoni when the Japanese occupied Iloilo in 1942. At that time up to the Liberation of Panay, it served as a garrison of the Japanese Imperial Army. (University of the Philippines Visayas - Center for West Visayan Studies, n.d.)
  5. March 1945- The Aduana Building was the temporary city hall after a few weeks, then it was back in City Hall at Molo.
  6. April 1947 - City Hall was donated to University of the Philippines 
  7. 1947 - 1950s - Requera Building at Muelle Loney. This was during the administration of Fernando Lopez, Vicente Ybiernas, Rafael Jalandoni, and Dominador Jover. 
  8. 1950s onwards - building in front of Plaza Libertad. The City Government started settling in its current area during the Rodolfo Ganzon’s administration. 
  9. 1960s - Office of the municipal board moved at ground floor of Iloilo Hotel. City Health Office, Fiscal Office, Municipal Court Clerk at an unnamed building at Valeria Street. 

The article mentioned that upon former mayor Roding Ganzon’s announcement of the construction of a new city hall of Iloilo in 1961, it was met with cheers. After all, as the article once described it, the city government was “like a bum,” moving from one building to another.

Old COA Building, or Elizalde y Cia Building. It was Iloilo City Hall's Annex. Currently it houses the Museum of Philippine Economic History (Photo by Berniemack Arellano, 2008)

The old Iloilo City Hall from the 1960s to late 2000s. One can describe the old city hall as a place no claustrophobe would ever like to stay. It is still the site of the new city hall that was constructed in 2010-2011. (Photo by Berniemack Arellano, 2009).

It stayed in Plaza Libertad, occupying a building and the neighboring Elizalde y Cia Building (now Museo ng Pangekonomiyang Kasaysayan ng Pilipinas), which was an old merchant bahay na bato along JM Basa Street. I remember entering the old city hall, it was crammed and a place no claustrophobe would like to visit. 

It was until 2010 when the City Government decided to construct a seven-story edifice in at Plaza Libertad, costing around PhP400 million then. There were plans back then that it’ll be transferred at the city’s lot in San Pedro Molo, or a lot allocated at Iloilo Business Park in Mandurriao. However, it was decided that the city hall stayed in Plaza Libertad. William Coscolluela designed the said building which incorporated several designs from the city’s heritage buildings. FF Cruz-Freyssinet were the contractors. (Yap, 2010) During its construction, the city government temporarily relocated on several upper floors of Robinsons Place Iloilo Mall (The News Today, 2010) along Ledesma Street up to 2011. A legislative building will be constructed beside the current city hall within the Kerr and Company Compound. (Lena, 2021) 


Current Iloilo City Hall in front of historic Plaza Libertad (Photo by Berniemack Arellano, 2019)

Currently, the City Hall stands beside Plaza Libertad, reminiscent of the plaza complexes that were prescribed by the Leyes de las indias during the Spanish colonial era. It is nomad no more.

I am still curious as to where the Ayuntamiento of Ciudad Iloilo once located before the Americans came. Was it also in the Casa Real (Iloilo Provincial Capitol) or somewhere else? Further research is needed for this. 


Iloilo Chinese Chamber of Commerce. (1964). City Sanz City Hall. In I. C. Commerce, 1911-1961 Fiftieth Anniversary Souvenir of Iloilo Chinese Chamber of Commerce (pp. 77-78). Iloilo City.

Lena, P. (2021, October 18). P247-M legislative building seen to create jobs for Ilonggos. Retrieved from Philippine News Agency:

The News Today. (2010, July 8). New city hall seen early next year. Retrieved from The News Today:

University of the Philippines Visayas - Center for West Visayan Studies. (n.d.). From Iloilo City Hall to University of the Philippines Visayas Main Building: A Cultural Heritage. Retrieved from Google Arts and Culture:

Yap, T. J. (2010). New City Hall breaks ground, finally. Retrieved from The Daily Guardian: