Monday, August 29, 2011

Explore Iligan’s History

The maturity of Iligan is slow and deliberate. In its 61 years of cityhood, the city stood witness to the unfolding of history. Iligan was an all-knowing and silent observer to many historic events.

During Spanish Times
• Iligan History(1) - by Ricardo Jorge S. Caluen
• Iligan History(2) - by Assemblyman Camilo P. Cabili
• Iligan History(3) - as published in the Symbols of the State(Republic of the Philippines).

During American Period
Iligan During the American Period By Prof. Patrocenia T. Acut

During the Japanese Period
Japanese Occupation in Iligan City By Prof. Leonor Buhion Enderes

Modern Times
Iligan: A History of the Phenominal Growth of an Industrial City By Prof. Geoffrey G. Salgado

This page will give the world a glimpse of a city fully-made. A city that rode time and history well; a city that has learned so much in its silence; a city who is ready for the future.


Plan of Iligan. 1898. SHM On Mindanao, the southernmost island in the archipelago, the Spaniards only managed to control some points along the coast. In Iligan, to the north, a fortress was built in the first third of the 17th century, and the town grew up around this.




An excerpt from "A Woman's Journey Through the Philippines" by Florence Kimball Russel

In the early afternoon we women went ashore sight-seeing, and found Iligan chiefly interesting for what it was not. On paper — Spanish paper, that is — the town is represented as a city of some magnitude, boasting handsome barracks for the soldiers, two beautstreetiful churches, many well-built houses and shops, a railway running from the outskirts of the town to Lake Lanao, a handsome station for Iligan’s terminal of the line, and many other modern improvements, including fine waterworks.

In reality, Iligan is a little nipa-shack settlement, some of the nipa buildings being very pretty, to be sure, but hardly pretentious enough for city dwellings. As for the railway to Lake Lanao, all that is left of it are two old engines and some dilapidated cars in a discouraged, broken down shemarketd on the outskirts of the village, the shed doubtless representing the handsome station aforementioned. Even the rails of the road have been carried away by the Moros to be made into bolos and krises.

Market-day, which comes every Saturday at Iligan, made a break in the dull uniformity of our several visits there. It was full of interest to everyone, for it is then the Moros come to town, like the beggars in the old nursery rhyme, “some in rags and some in tags,” but none in velvet gowns, no doubt because of climatic exigencies. It was a glorious day of dazzling sunshine, and the market-place fairly swarmed in colour, which blinded the eyes and warmed the heart. There were to be seen in sarong, or coat, or turban the faded reds and subdued blues that artists love, with here and there a dash of vivid green, scarlet, and purple, barbarously tropical.



Quezon Avenue, before the big fire that hit Iligan on May 23, 1957.
(Photo Courtesy of Lchs Spectrum)

A vintage photo of the old Iligan Public Plaza during its early days. Photo, taken years before the fire of 1957, was shot from the corner of Washington Street (now Gen. Aguinaldo St.) and Juan Luna St. (now M. Badelles Sr. St.).
(Photo courtesy of the City Tourism Office)


The old Iligan public plaza was a landmark that would have been Iligan's premier historical relic today had it not been demolished in 1965 to give way to a more contemporary scheme of park structure.

Iligan City Public Plaza prior to its demolition in 1965


Mandulog Bailey Bridge
Constructed May 9, 1948

June 16, 1950. Day 1 of Iligan as a city. President Elpidio Quirino signs Republic Act 525, Iligan City Charter. Among the witnesses at Malacañang are House Speaker Eugenio Lopez (2nd from left), Congressman Ali Dimaporo (who sponsored the bill on the Charter), Dansalan Mayor Bato Ali, Mayor Benito S. Ong (first Mayor of Iligan as a city), Sen. Tomas Ll. Cabili and future Congressman Manalao.


Inauguration and blessing of the new City Hall Sept. 28, 1958. The seat of the city government, is on top of Buhanginan Hill, some 47 meters above sea level.

Pasunding sa Ikaduhang Kadaugan ni. G. Tomas Cabili sa Pagka-diputado sa Lalawigan sa Lanao (1938)


Riders of the Past
Location: Roxas Avenue

This is the historic picture when JCI Iligan hosted the Jaycees National Convention in Iligan City in the 1960s. Notice the first banner where the delegation from Cebu jaycees is featured. parade

This was Sunburst Fried Chicken House situated beside Tino Badelles St., Pala-o Iligan City. The restaurant started its operations in 1972. This place was beautified by the owner by planting some trees and painting the old walls. The street in front of the establishment is already cemented. It continues to serve the residents of Iligan City.
Photo Courtesy of the City Tourism Office

This site was the old street of Sabayle going straight to Pier 1 of the port area. This picture was taken in the 1970’s.
Photo Courtesy of the City Tourism Office


Berds Theater ( Pala-o)
Fronting Berd's was the Mimi’s beauty parlor and restaurant, which is now AGR Pharmacy. The vacant lot on the next block (left) is today’s huge and busy Pala-o Market.
Photo Courtesy of the City Tourism Office

The big building shown is the Maharlika theatre at Quezon Avenue. The traffic sign shown was manually operated by using handle. More buildings and banks nearby have been erected in this today.


A former view of the Iligan City Hall taken in the 1980’s. Under the administration of Mayor Camilo P. Cabili the City Hall building was renovated, an amphi-theater was erected and the roads / streets were asphalted.

It was the newly renovated building of St. Michael’s School in 1929 – 1930. It was Fr. Andrew Hoffman S.J. who was the director of the school at that time. He had done much for the renovation of the school in an effort to provide the students with better facilities.
Source: St. Michael’s College Yearbook, 1956.


The Kiosko (Public Plaza)
This octagonal structure served as the place where VIP’s were honored during ceremonies such as the Commonwealth Day celebration. In the summer months before the war, the Iligan youth would engage in singing and rondalla contests. Evenings were made memorable by the scent of jasmine trees that lined the sides of the Plaza. Spanish land posts lit up the area.

Old Iliganons having a photo op at Rizal Park with the famous Maria Cristina Hotel in the background.
Source: Pat. D. Noel of City Tourism Office


Construction of St. Michael Cathedral's Main Altar (1956)
Source: Pat D. Noel of City Tourism Office

Felipe Padilla, Mr. Iligan 1956
Source: Pat D. Noel of City Tourism Office


St. Michael Cathedral (circa 1960)
Source: Pat D. Noel of City Tourism Office

Parade during Iligan Fiesta,
September 30, 1932
Source: Pat D. Noel of City Tourism Office


Municipal Building of Iligan
Photo opportunity with Queen Natalia I and Her Majesty's Court during Iligan's Fiesta in September 30, 1932.
The imposing structure in the background was the Municipal Building located at one end of Rizal Park (currently the site of the City Police Office).

More to come…

A recorded past is no more than a bygone present composed of the footprints made by human beings actually going somewhere but not knowing (in any extended sense), and certainly not revealing to us, how, they came to be afoot on these particular journeys. 

~Michael Oakeshott



  1. Hi,mangotana lang,where man ka naka balo about
    A Woman's Journey Through the Philippines by Florene Russel? kay na-a man gyud ko nga first edition kani nga book dated june 1907.I'm happy nga imong gi apil sa history sa Iligan,by the way taga Iligan ko,salamat ang more power to you and God bless.

    1. Hello. I am not the owner of this page but would like to respond to your question above re the book by Florence Russell. Daghan naman online resources karon. Kani nga libro available na pod sa online. Pero interesado ko maka-kita sa imong kopya sa 1907 edition sa libro. Naa lang ba ka sa Iligan o sa gawas?---Ricardo Caluen


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