Old Iloilo Provincial Jail
“Masubo matuod ang dili angayan. Provincial Jail ang amon guinsudlan. Pader nagalibot, sa kilid magtimbang. Rehas nga salsalon ang amon pwertahan,” excerpts from a popular song often heard on the radio detailing the pains and pangs of inmates inside the Iloilo Provincial Jail. Once a witness to the hardships of Ilonggos who had ‘brushes with the law’, it now stands witness to the history of Iloilo as the regional extension of the National Museum of the Philippines. The Iloilo Provincial Jail, also referred to as the ‘Iloilo Rehabilitation Center’, was built in 1911 and was one of the first American structures built in the country. It was used as a correctional facility until 2006. The 860 square meter property is located at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol Complex, Bonifacio Drive, City Proper. Although a century old building, the structure is still strong. The provincial government spent around P19 million to retrofit the structure and the National Museum allotted P80 million to convert it into what it is today. The new and official provincial jail is now located at Barangay Nanga in Pototan. The National Museum of the Philippines declared that the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center, or the Old Iloilo Provincial Jail, is an ‘important cultural property’ (2016) for its ‘exceptional architectural, cultural, and historic value’. The structure was designed by Architect William Parson, the then Consulting Architect of the Philippine Government working with the Bureau of Public Works. Parsons was in charge of the designs all public buildings and parks in the country. Museum Declaration No. 22-2017 indicates that ‘the old Iloilo Provincial Jail is a cultural property enjoying the presumption of law as an important property; possesses exceptional cultural and architectural significance relative to the local areas, history and culture; and merits official recognition as part of the heritage and patrimony of the Filipino people.’ “The premier repository and custodian of the country’s heritage introduces its significant collections, and shares to wider audience online its efforts to protect, conserve, and promote the natural and cultural heritage of the Filipino people,” excerpts from Director’s Message of Director-General Jeremy Barns, CESO III, on the National Museum of the Philippines website. “The interdisciplinary nature of the work in the National Museum of the Philippines also encourages exchange of information and collaborative strategies towards achieving its goals as a cultural, scientific, and educational institution,” another excerpt from the same website. The museum is now nestled inside the Iloilo Provincial Capital Complex, which has been developed into an open space and park, and a project designed by Architect Paolo Alcazaren. The complex highlights Casa Real, another national historical landmark, and the newly installed 6 feet by 72 feet ‘Panaysayon sang Paranublion’ Mural, highlighting the ‘Barter of Panay’ between Datu Marikudo and the Datus of Borneo. The Old Provincial Jail (Iloilo Rehabilitation Center) was officially turned over to the National Museum of the Philippines last 2018, by then Provincial Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. through a 50-year usufruct agreement during the 117th Foundation Day Celebration of the Province of Iloilo. It is now officially known as the National Museum Western Visayas Galleries inside the National Museum Western Visayas include the following
- Habol Panay: The Woven Artistry of Western Visayas (Opened 2019)
- Geology and Paleontology Exhibition Hall (Opened 2020)
Other notable displays include the stone sculptures of Panay; the replica of the work of National Artist for Visual Arts (Painting) J. Elizalde Navarro titled Ang Bulawan nga Sandok; the work of renowned sculptor Anastasio Caedo, the original statue of former President Manuel Roxas; the gemstones of Antique; and the Pagbanhaw Touring Exhibition highlighting the museum’s heritage and reconstruction program in the Visayas.