‘First-of-its-kind’ museum to open in Iloilo City

Elizalde building

The first Museum of Philippine Economic History will formally open in Iloilo City next week.

The inauguration of the new museum will be led by Senator Franklin M. Drilon on Feb. 11.

The impressive transformation of the Elizalde building, formerly known as the Commission on Audit building, into a museum is the latest in a slew of restoration of key heritage and culture sites that began five years when the Ilonggo senator launched the Iloilo Heritage and Urban Renewal Project that aims to protect and preserve Iloilo’s rich heritage and culture.

The new museum, the first of its kind in the country, features the economic history of the country and the local history of the Iloilo and industries of Western Visayas.

“This new and first-of-its-kind museum will offer a window to the past – to the country’s colorful economic history and how Iloilo earned the title the ‘Queen City of the South,’” Drilon said.

The new museum will be administered by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

The Elizalde building is a hundred-year-old complex whose architecture depicts the age of progressive commerce and trade in Iloilo during the 18thto early 20thcentury. It was formerly owned by one of the country’s biggest trading firms during the 18thcentury, the Ynchausti y Compania, of the Ynchausti family. The firm’s name was synonymous with its products like Yco Floor Wax, Yco Paints, Tanduay Rum, and Rizal Cement.

By the late 1920s, Ynchausti y Compañia came under the management of the Elizalde family, who eventually acquired the firm and renamed it Elizalde y Compañia in 1936, until the COA bought the building.

Old photo of Elizalde building

The Museum of Philippine Economic History boasts hundred decades-old artifacts and items on display, including old San Miguel beer bottles from the Ynchausti clan; molinodesangre, which was a very important tool in the Western Visayas region’s sugar industry; decades-old gold, necklace and other accessories from Pampanga; looms from the oldest weavers of Miagao in Iloilo, then known as the Textile Capital of the Philippines; t’nalakfrom Mindanao; old photographs, maps, train wheels, plates; and many others. 

Drilon said the new museum is just one of the must-visit museums in Iloilo that was recently opened.

Last year, Megaworld Corporation opened the Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Arts at Iloilo Business Park in Mandurriao district.

The other must-visit museums are the Museo Iloilo, Rosendo Mejica Museum, John B. Lacson Museum, and Archdiocesan Museum.

Drilon’s Iloilo Heritage and Urban Renewal Project also restored the old Iloilo Customs House, called Aduana; the Sunburst Park; and the Ker and Co. Building.

The Sunburst Park, which was originally known as “Plaza de Aduana,” a description of the park fronting the Iloilo Custom House or Aduana, was developed following the inauguration of the Iloilo Customs House in 1916. It was in the plaza where the US Army 40thInfantry “Sunburst” Division helped liberate Panay from the Japanese at the end of World War II.

The park boasts wide public space and features such as a walkway, a chess playground, park benches, parking area, the existing Peralta Statue, and the Sunburst area.

Also restored was the century-old Iloilo Customs House, which now houses a government agency and a gallery on the history of the port of Iloilo.

The Iloilo Provincial Government has also initiated major heritage conservation projects, including the restoration and adaptive reuse of the Casa Real de Iloilo and the Prison of Iloilo.

The original Casa Real de Iloilo structure was built in 1873 but was renovated and redesigned by the Americans following the inauguration of the civil government of Iloilo in 1901. It became the seat of the provincial government and was used as headquarters of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.

The Prison of Iloilo, built in 1911, now houses the National Museum Western Visayas Regional Museum and Satellite Office, which opened in April 2018.IMT