ILOILO takes its name from Irong-Irong, the old name of the city of Iloilo, a tongue of land that sticks out like a nose on the south of Iloilo River. The Maragtas Legend tells the story of Iloilo way back in the 13th century, when Datu Puti and his fellow Datus, fled from the tyranny of Sultan Makatunao of Borneo and landed at the mouth of the Siwaragan River, now known as the town of San Joaquin, and eventually settled there.
At the that time, people called the “Atis”, who were ruled by King Marikudo and Queen Maniwangtiwang, inhabited Panay. King Marikudo bartered the lowlands of Panay Island for a golden hat, “saduk”, and a long gold necklace, “manangyad”, and other assorted gifts to the Bornean Datus. The latter then took complete control of the island with the “Atis” retiring to the mountains. It was Datu Paiburong who was assigned in Irong-Irong. Panay Island was ruled under the Code of Kalantiao, where peace and prosperity reigned for 300 years. But this was disrupted when the Spaniards came and established the provincial government.
As early as 1855, Iloilo opened to the world of trade and became the biggest port in the Philippines and premier province of the country because of various economic activities. Municipio de Iloilo became a city under the Bacura Law in 1893.
When the Philippine Revolution started, Panay uprising against the Spaniards was led by Gen. Martin Delgado of Sta. Barbara, who liberated all the towns, except Iloilo City, Molo, and Jaro. December 28, 1898 marked the arrival of the Americans at the Iloilo port, and on April 11, 1901, Iloilo City whose status has reverted to municipality, became the chief port and trading center of Panay and Negros. Because it progressed steadily, the Commonwealth Act No. 158 incorporated the surrounding towns of Lapaz, Jaro, Mandurriao and Arevalo to form Iloilo City and was finally inaugurated on Aug. 25, 1937, and was dubbed as the “Queen City of the South”. Gen. Martin Delgado became the first governor of the province of Iloilo.
The Japanese occupation started on April 16, 1942. The Panay Guerilla Movement, the first resistance group in the Philippines, continued fighting the Japanese Imperial Army even before the American Liberation of Panay on July 4, 1946.