From a dying river some five years ago, the Iloilo River rose to become, once again, the anchor of economic development in Iloilo City
Ilonggo Senator Franklin Drilon was the development architect who purposely designed the river to be cleaned and rehabilitated.
Today, the Iloilo River is back to its old stage as a major waterway for livelihood, fun and leisure and a heritage site for the Ilonggos.
But more important, Drilon is urging local government units in the country with rivers to imitate the rehabilitation works at the Iloilo River and make the river the prime start of development.
Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said the Iloilo River rehabilitation project is a clear example of a good public private partnership (PPP), and the people's will to bring back its glory and to make it an effective flood-control measure.
Mabilog said there are still unfinished projects along the river and international observers are seeing what Iloilo City is doing about the projects.
The mayor said Iloilo City’s hosting of the First International River Summit last year brought awareness to the global consciousness what the city is doing for its river.
The multi-agency Iloilo River Development Council has been established as a consultative and coordinative body with primary goals of improving the river water quality and preserving its ecology while promoting sustainable development of the city.
Drilon said the collaborative efforts among government agencies and the stakeholders made possible the relocation of about 1,000 families living along the danger zones of the river and its tributaries.
Iloilo River & Esplanade
Aside from the relocation project and housing for the displaced informal settlers, the senator also facilitated the construction of a 1.2-kilometer Esplanade along the river to boost tourism in the city and to increase environmental awareness among its residents.
Drilon also initiated the removal of 10 derelicts and 38 idle vessels blocking the river for about a decade as well as the elimination of illegal fish pens and dikes at the river.
The old Molo slaughterhouse was closed and a modern one was constructed away from the river, with a P40-million assistance from the Department of Agriculture.Iloilo River is one of the four finalists of the 2013 Thiess International Riverprize award, sponsored by the Australian government through the International River Foundation (IRF).(PNA) LAP/NLG/LCP
DOT to Include 7 City Bridges in Tour Package
The Dept. of Tourism regional office here is opening up the tourism capability of the seven bridges in Iloilo City as a major component of the city tour package for tourists.
To be known as the 7 Bridges of Blessings, each city bridge will have its own story to tell, including the year constructed and the people involved in setting up the bridges. Iloilo City has a total of 20 bridges and 7 bridges cross the Iloilo River, while the rest cross the Jaro River, Dungon and Calajunan creeks.
DOT has identified the seven bridges including the six bridges crossing the Iloilo River as the Jalandoni Bridge built in 2004, Iloilo (diversion) Bridge built in 1982, Muelle Loney (railway) Bridge built in 1995, Forbes Bridge built in 1910, Carpenter Bridge built in 2010, and Quirino Lopez Bridge built in 1967. The Jaro Bridge built in 1982 over the Jaro River is at the Jaro spur road going to Leganes, Iloilo.
On the other hand, Dr. Kristin Treñas, chair of the Iloilo City Cultural Heritage Conservation Council, said the Iloilo River is a heritage and historical site. The Forbes Bridge was the main connection to Iloilo City proper used by the forces of revolutionary Gen. Martin Delgado to subdue the Spanish forces until surrender.
Formerly made of bamboo poles, the concrete Forbes Bridge was constructed in 1920 and rehabilitated and expanded in 1975. The river used to be the main livelihood area of families living in the upstream going to Molo and Arevalo where fishpens, algas, seashells, shrimps and crustaceans abound.
The Esplanade and park was constructed in the upstream along the Dear Efrain Treñas Boulevard where people enjoy the scenic open space everyday. (PNA) hbc/Lydia Pendon/vlo