By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
The very first Iloilo City Hall which is now a campus treasure of the University of the Philippines (UPV) plays a significant role not only in the glorious past of the city but also in imparting historical lessons to the younger generation.
The UPV Main Building, fondly called by the students as “Lozano Hall,” was recently restored using a P54-million grant from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). It was unveiled to the public on Aug 16, 2019.
To some of the students of the campus, the restored building holds precious memories both from the past and the present.
Nineteen-year-old, Aira Aim Seterra, a first year Bachelor of Science in Accountancy student of UPV and senior high school graduate of the same school, shared that the building was a popular venue for recording video projects before the restoration works.
“Dira kami garecord video for our projects sang wala pa siya na-renovate,” she said.
Now that the building is restored, Seterra said it should be something that Ilonggos must treasure as the site is an important part of Iloilo City’s rich cultural heritage.
“Importante gid kay historical siya nga structure kag damo ang historical events nga natabo dira. Isa siya sa mapabugal nga heritage sang Iloilo,” she furthered.
Meanwhile, 23-year-old Marie Lou Cabrera, an accountancy student who graduated last year recalled that the place is also a study lounge for students.
“Dyan kami gatambay for study and subong nga gin-renovate siya, nagnami na gid siya since last time,” she said.
She added that restoring such sites is important to preserve its rich history and also for the convenience of the students.
“Relevant para mas magamit man siya and ma-preserve ang history niya, para at least mabal-an nila nga amo na ang history niya at the same time,” Cabrera shared.
Another alumnus of the university, Neil Christian Graza, 24, underscored the importance of the building and the historical past that it holds especially with the prevalence of the internet to the younger generation.
“Books might be ignored because there a lot of search engines online. Younger generations may have an idea but don’t know what it is actually. Heritage sites are very important especially for us and the younger generation to be aware of the past, not only its concept or ideas but also actual and physical visualization of our history,” Graza said.
By restoring the building, Graza hopes that the public will be aware of the history of the city and how it affects both the present and the future.
“History truly repeats. History truly affects the present and the future. These historical sites are helpful for students and the public to be aware of their roots and history,” he added.
During his college years as an accountancy student, the building was an ideal spot for students to study and learn the rich and hidden culture of Western Visayas, especially Iloilo, Graza shared.
“When I was a student, all corners of Lozano Hall are very student friendly. Aside from the library, there is a specific area which holds books and historical facts about the culture of Western Visayas,” he shared.
The newly restored building served as Iloilo City’s first municipal hall, according to Dr. Randy Madrid, director of UPV Center for West Visayan Studies.
Famous Architect Juan Arellano designed the neo-classical building with the help of his Italian friend, Francesco Riccardo Monti.
According to Madrid, the building was inaugurated in 1936 just as the elevation of the municipality of Iloilo into a chartered city took place in December 1936.
During World War II in 1942, the building was a garrison for Japanese soldiers, being the biggest building in the city at that time.
After the war, the city government donated the building to UP and formally opened as the UP Iloilo College (UPIC) in 1947.
With the opening of the building to the public, historians and students alike hope that the historical building will not only serve as a remnant of the city’s glorious past but also reflect the future and contribute to the city’s tourism development.