Calle Real or “Royal Street” is not only a museum of old Spanish edifices but it is also probably the busiest place in Iloilo City. It’s not surprising since it is the center of commerce in the city. With all the hustle and bustle in the area, it’s hard to imagine the place without cars and jeepneys. However, get this, every weekend; Calle Real is now car-free!
City Councilor Jason Gonzales spearheaded the project of making a “Carless Weekend” on Calle Real, in the downtown area of Iloilo City. A three-month experiment that started in December of last year, the project is expected to be permanent if everything falls into place.
In a statement, Gonzales said that he pedestrianization of streets has proven to give various benefits to the people living in the area such as decreased air pollution and has improved health since people are encouraged to walk. It has also increased economic activity since increased foot traffic insinuates higher sales.
In the weekend mornings, people can jog and do physical fitness activities. Come late afternoon, pedestrians are treated to different kinds of entertainment. From live acoustic bands or solo performers, to dance groups doing their own thing, Calle Real has now become a center of street entertainment in the city.
Many people now consider going to Calle Real as their regular weekend recreational activity. Calle Real, being carless, has also opened doors for starting entrepreneurs. There are different booths where they can sell pastries, fruits, and accessories. Many are pleasantly surprised by the big transformation of Calle Real. Aside from being the center of commerce, it has also become the center of culture and the arts.