The Town of Heritage:  SANTA BARBARA

Text by: Karen Bernadette Vergara

Photos from: Discover Santa Barbara Iloilo

ILOILO maybe small but one should not underestimate the amount of cultural it possess and Santa Barbara is a heavy contributor to that. About a 20-minute ride from the city and serving as a gateway towards the Iloilo International Airport, the Municipality of Santa Barbara’s heritage is one of the major tourist attractions Iloilo City has to offer.

What makes Santa Barbara a major tourist attraction is its many historical infrastructures and sights.

One of the must see places of Santa Barbara is the Roman Catholic Church and Convent. Constructed in 1849 and finished in 1990, the neoclassical baroque infrastructure is now a National Historical Landmark as declared by the National Historical Institute. It is the memorial landmark where General Martin Delgado assembled his troops to raise the first cry of revolution in Iloilo against Spain. For those museum aficionados, right across the church is the Santa Barbara Centennial Museum. Built in 1998, the museum showcases the artifacts, photos and memorabilia that relieve the story of the town’s history to its visitors.

Nearby are more famous historical landmarks found only in Sta. Barbara such as the Cry of Santa Barbara Marker, in which this was where the Filipino flag was raised outside Luzon to honor and commemorate the works of General Martin Delgado and his Liberating Army. Also one can find the General Martin Delgado Monument in which the bronze statue was erected in tribute to the revolutionary hero. It was unveiled in 1998 to the public on the Centennial Celebration and in 2011 the remains of Gen. Delgado were exhumed and laid to rest at the monument.

Also a must-see is the Flagpole Park in which one of the country’s giant flags is waved here and was constructed in 1998. The flag measures at 30 by 60 feet and is set upon a 120 feet flagpole. This served as a marker in which Santa Barbara is set as a part of the Freedom Trail of Philippine Independence from Spain.

All of these can be found at the Santa Barbara Heritage Zone.

Another main tourist attraction that never ceases to cause a stir for the town’s non local visitors is the “poso”. The “poso” is Santa Barbara’s main source of potable water and can be found all over the town. What makes it so memorable is because not only it is colored like whisky but also burns when lit. Featured in media such as GMA’s Jessica Soho, the “poso” has become one of the defining trademarks of Sta. Barbara attracting and amazing visitors far and wide.

Let us not forget the Iloilo Golf and Country Club. Built by a group of British and Scottish men working on the Panay Railway System in 1907 it is the oldest known golf course in the country. Located at Brgy. San Sebastian, the golf course was built naturally on 35 hectares of hills with 18-holes.

For the fashionista or the handicraft aficionado, why not have a stopover at the W.U.T.H.L.E? W.U.T.H.L.E, or Women United Through Hand-crafted Lace and Embroidery, is a non-profit organization from Belgium by the ICM Sister’s Apostolate. It is dedicated to improving the lives of women by involving them in handicrafts such as embroidery and lace-making. Found at the Western Visayas Sanitarium one can watch how women do such handicrafts using bobbins and threads.

If you like to visit landmarks then try paying the Roman Catholic Cemetery a visit. One of the historical sites that still carry a dominant Spanish influence, it is considered as one of the strongest features found in Sta. Barbara. An interesting point of this site is the words inscribed on the front gate: “Ig-ampo mo kami, Karon sa amon, Buas sa inyo” which can be translated as “Pray for us, it’s our turn today, tomorrow it’s yours.”