Jason Legaspi, Sister Cities Chairperson to Iloilo, Philippines
Town affiliations linking cities in the United States with ones in other countries made their appearance shortly after World War II and became known as “Sister Cities.” In the first few years of the program only a dozen or so active affiliations were started including Stockton’s first, Shimizu in Japan. Iloilo, Philippines became the second Sister City of Stockton, California, a relationship established in 1965.
Iloilo is a province of the Philippines, located in the center of the Philippine archipelago. The province comprises the southeastern part of Panay Island with island-province of Guimarasjust across its coast. The capital city of the province of Iloilo is the City of Iloilo, which is also one of the major urban centers in the Philippines. It is nicknamed “the Heart of the Philippines.”
Iloilo has always been one of the country’s most important provinces. Merchants from China and India have long traded with the Ilonggos even before the Spaniards came; evidences of this flourishing civilization are displayed in Museums and Private Galleries. Even during the Spanish and American colonial period, Iloilo still proved to be an important trading post. Iloilo has a beautiful harbor with serene and calm waters, safe for navigation because it is protected from the open sea by scenic Guimaras Island. This excellent port facility made Iloilo the center of trade at the turn of the century, with the whole world doing business in this port especially during the heyday of the sugar industry. In fact, Iloilo was given the title of “Queen City of the South” for being the Philippine’s second city, after Manila.
Iloilo’s rich heritage is showcased in multifarious festivals celebrated in the city and various towns of the province. Besides being dubbed as the “Province of Festivals“ Iloilo was also once referred to as the “Textile Capital of the Philippines” for the Sinamay, Pina and Jusiproducts produced by the looms of Iloilo. The opening of Iloilo’s port to world market in 1855, Iloilo’s industry and agriculture gave access to foreign markets. During the American colonial era (1899 – 1901) the American Presbyterian Missionaries established the first Protestant and American hospital in the country followed by the first Protestant and private American university in the country and Asia.
The Port of the City of Stockton shared the same centerpiece of trade and commerce as the Port of Iloilo.
Many delegations of members have traveled both ways to visit the long standing Sister City relationship.