ILOILO CITY: The historic Plaza Libertad at the far end of another historic area, the Calle Real, is up for rehabilitation funded by the Department of Tourism-Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority (DOT-Tieza) of more than P4 million.
Formerly known as Plaza Alfonso XIII, a king of Spain, it is one of the six beautifully landscaped plazas in Iloilo. Plazas can be found in each of the districts of Iloilo City, a clear manifestation of the strong Spanish influence here.
A groundbreaking rite was held on June 14 to start the plaza rehabilitation as part of the seven heritage sites in this city. President Benigno Aquino 3rd has signed Republic Act (RA) 10555 or the heritage tourism law of Iloilo City on May 15 and the measure was spearheaded by Iloilo City lone district Congressman Jerry Treñas and Sen. Franklin Drilon in defining the sites as city cultural heritage tourism zones.
The other cultural heritage tourism sites are the Jaro Cathedral, Molo Church, Iloilo City Central Business District, Fort San Pedro, Jaro Plaza Complex, and Molo Plaza Complex, all expected to further enhance the city’s claim as a top cultural heritage destination of the country.
The plaza projects will include a fountain, skating rink, basket and volleyball courts and other amenities such as sheds, lightings, seats, fastfood stalls and comfort rooms.
Plaza Libertad had served as a leisure ground in the past for residents of downtown Iloilo and later declared as a historical site by the National Historical Institute in 1996 as recognition for its contribution to the Philippine History and freedom.
The flag of the First Philippine Republic was raised in Plaza Libertad in triumph after Spain surrendered Iloilo, her last Capital in the Philippines to the Ilonggo revolutionaries led by Gen. Martin Delgado of Santa Barbara, Iloilo on December 25, 1898.
The imposing new Iloilo City Hall stands right beside the plaza and on the other side is the San Jose Parish Church, seat of patronal saint Sr. Santo Niño in which the world famous Iloilo Dinagyang Festival is anchored. Also, a Rizal Monument refurbished by the Yuchengco Group of Companies stands at the center of the plaza.
City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog is endorsing the seven historical sites for tourists and visitors starting with a walk-on visit at the new cityhall building, Plaza Libertad and along the central business district to see the refurbished heritage commercial buildings and up to Fort San Pedro.