The historic Plaza Libertad will once again get a facelift after Iloilo City Government held a groundbreaking for its redevelopment on Thursday, February 4.
Mayor Jerry P. Treñas led the ceremonial laying of time capsule on Plaza Libertad grounds fronting Iloilo City Hall. Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon and Iloilo City Councilors were present during the event.
In his welcome message, Treñas said that the project is part of his administration’s desire “bring Iloilo City to the next level and maximize our potentials to bring better environment for our people.”
“The plan is developing open spaces buidling infrastructure projects that will benefit our community. I would like to commend our City Council for this appropriation and our very supportive Congresswoman Baronda,” Treñas said.
“If we continue to support one another we can have more projects which are beneficial to our people in the community. and yet we can build modern and sustainable environment, we will see Iloilo City as it rises once again as the Queen City of the South,” he added.
Architect Regina Gregorio said that the Plaza Libertad re-development is funded under the Local Government Support Fund-Assistance to the Cities 2019. Phase 1 of the project which covers 4,000 square meters of the plaza costs P19,668,343.00. It will include the drainage system, assembly area fronting City Hall, and the four pathways converging at the Rizal monument. Lighting system and signages will also be put in place.
A water feature, children’s playground, and restoration of the heritage architectural ornaments will be done in Phase 2.
Architect Paulo Alcazaren, who also did the Iloilo Esplanade 1 and 2, prepared the conceptual plan in coordination with the City Engineer’s Office.
“The program aims to provide a sustainable, liable, and resilient open space for the Ilonggo,” Gregorio said. “In an urban setting, the luxury of open spaces is limited to a few. This noble project of the Mayor aims and hopes to bring back the patronage and appreciation of the environment and open spaces reflective of the bygone era and the present day.”
‘New Plaza Libertad’ a symbol of hope
Since its construction in the 1800s, the Plaza Libertad has undergone several renovations and facelifts. But the City Government vowed that this time it will be different, thus a ‘new’ Plaza Libertad will emerge after several months of construction.
It will be memorable and historical because, despite the pandemic, the landmark redevelopment will be a symbol of hope, the rebuilding of lives, and of moving forward as Ilonggos.
Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon lauded the project as it “will serve as a reminder of how much our city has accomplished and will continue to accomplish in the years to come.”
“The plaza remains to be the center and the heart of Iloilo City, thus it is only fitting that we celebrate the rich history embedded in this very plaza by restoring it in former glory. Indeed, we find reasons to celebrate our humble and proud city of Iloilo despite trying times,” Ganzon said.
Transforming the infrastructure landscape
Architect Gregorio said that the project is just a segment of the huge undertaking the City will be embarking on that will “transform the infrastructure landscape in this part of the city.”
“We have just completed the covered walkways along Iloilo City Hall traversing Ker Building down to the Sunburst Park. The project was funded by the 2018 Green, Green, Green program of the DBM. Also expected to rise in the area is the Legislative Building and the multi-parking building beside the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).
“The development aims to promote pedestrianization within the interlinked City Government offices and other agencies, including the Sunburst Park and the old business district.
Plaza Libertad, a heritage site
Formerly called Plaza Alfonso XII, Plaza Libertad has been a witness to several important events both for Iloilo and the country.
Governor-General Diego de los Ríos of Spain surrendered to the Filipino revolutionary troops led by General Martin Delgado in the Plaza on Christmas Day of 1898, thus ending the 333-hundred-year-old Spanish colonization of the Philippines.
The triumphant revolutionaries raised the Flag of the First Philippine Republic for the first time in Iloilo City, the last bastion of Spanish power in the country.
It is also the first site of the Dinagyang celebration in 1968 in honor of the arrival of the replica of Sto. Nino from Cebu.
Plaza Libertad has been declared as a heritage site by virtue of Republic Act 10555 or “An Act Declaring the Jaro Cathedral, Molo Church, the Iloilo City Central Business District, Fort San Pedro, Jaro Plaza Complex, Molo Plaza Complex, and Plaza Libertad Complex, all Located in the City of Iloilo, as Cultural Heritage Tourism Zone.”
The measure was authored by Treñas, then-Congressman of Lone District of Iloilo City. (Photos by Randy Javier Fadrigo, Iloilo City Gov’t)