The Ultimate List of Iloilo’s Firsts


This “List of Iloilo’s First” used to occupy a conspicuous wall at the old ILOILO AIRPORT in Mandurriao, Iloilo City. This copy is uploaded via Facebook Notes: Ang Iloilo Numero Uno! of Sir Dinggol Araneta Divinagracia.

1. Iloilo is the site of the Malayan landing in the Philippines, according to the Maragtas Legend.

2. The first school for boys in the Philippines was founded in Tigbauan by the famous Jesuit priest and historian, Pedro Chirino in 1592.

3. The first place to put up a Christian church in the Philippines was Jalaud (Dumangas) in what is now the barangay of Ermita, in 1566.

4. Iloilo is the first city outside Manila to have a foreign business house (Loney & Co.) and the first foreign vice-consul.

5. The first province to export sugar to Australia.

6. The only province to have two cities during the Spanish time: Iloilo City, chartered in 1890, and Jaro in 1891.

7. The biggest province in the Philippines in population, income, and economic production during the 19th century.

8. The best and biggest producer of textiles during the Spanish era.

9. The first city outside Manila to have electricity, telephone, telegraph, railway, ice plant, automobile, and other modern conveniences.

10. The first province outside Luzon to fly the Philippine National Flag (in Sta. Barbara, Nov. 17, 1898)

11. The first department store in the country. Hoskyn & Co., established in 1877.

12. The first city outside Manila to have direct shipping lines with Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Europe, and America.

13. The first commercial airline in the country was the Iloilo Negros Air Express Co. (INAEC).

14. The first Philippine airline established after World War II was organized by Ilonggos… the FEATI.

15. The first provincial high school in the Philippines – Iloilo National High School.

16. The first Elementary School was established under the Americans – Baluarte Elementary School in Molo.

17. The first protestant barrio in the country – Calvario – Janiuay.

18. The first Baptist Church in the Philippines – Jaro Evangelical Church.

19. The first luxury liner on the island – S/S Don Esteban of the De la Rama Line.

20. The first city to have double-decked buses.

21. The first concrete road in the country – from Forbes Bridge to Jaro Plaza.

22. The first city to have a car assembly plant – Taller Visayas de Strachan & McMurray. The car assembled was the “Deiler” in the 1920s.

23. The first province to produce many millionaires and the first city to have a millionaire’s row.

24. The first Filipino to launch the propaganda movement in Spain, Graciano Lopez Jaena of Jaro also known as the greatest orator the Philippines ever produced.

25. The only Filipino nominated to the Supreme Court of Cuba – Raymundo Melliza.

26. The first Filipino to fly an airplane for passengers, was an Ilonggo – Jose Tinsay in 1925.

27. The first doctor of law from Oxford University – Melquiades Gamboa.

28. The first doctor of philosophy in political science – Victorino Diamonon.

29. The first Filipino doctor of Education – Pedro E. Y Rio.

30. The first Filipino woman doctor of Philosophy in Engineering – Josette Garcia Portigo.

31. The first Filipino doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology – F. Landa Jocano.

32. The first Filipino to win the Congressional Medal of Honor during the WWII – was Captain Jose Calugas of Leon.

33. The first Filipino soldier in the American Army to win medals of Heroism & Courage from the governments of the United States, Belgium & France during the WWII – Sgt. Ramon Subejano of New Lucena.

34. The first Filipino girl to be called the fastest woman in Asia – Inocencia Solis of New Lucena.

35. The first most-be-medaled Filipino girl swimmer – Nancy Deano of Dingle.

36. The first Filipino international chess grandmaster – Eugene Torre of La Paz.

37. The first community school movement originated by Supt. Jose V. Aguilar.

38. The best-organized guerilla unit during World War II under Gen. Mariano Peralta.

39. The first guerilla unit to contact, by radio, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and President Quezon during World War II.

40. The first Filipino lady to win a cultural heritage award – Magdalena Jalandoni of Jaro.

41. The first Filipino feminist – Pura Villanueva Kalaw.

42. The first bookstore and printing shop in the Visayas and Mindanao – Libreria la Panayana.

43. The first modern and most beautiful custom house in the country.

44. The first government-constructed museum building in the Philippines – Museo Iloilo.

45. The first city to have modern cinema houses and theatres outside Manila.

46. The first gravity irrigation system outside Luzon – Sta. Barbara Irrigation System.

47. The first successful compact farm in the country – Tagsing Buyo, Sta. Barbara.

48. The only province to have an anti-biotic drug named after it – Ilozone and Ilotycin which are brands of erythromycin, a wonder drug developed from a soil sample from Iloilo.

49. The first province to be declared a model in development planning by NEC/USAID.

50. The number one food-producing province of the Philippines today.

51. The first and only town in the Philippines to produce four justices of the Supreme Court, seven senators, seven governors, and seven cabinet members.

52. The site of the first international research center in the fishing industry, the SEAFDEC in Tigbauan.

53. The biggest public school division in the country is the Division of Iloilo.

54. The first city, initiated a free education program in elementary schools by eliminating the matriculation fees and providing free school supplies, and elimination of tuition fees in public secondary schools.

(A reprint from ILOILO’s FIRST, The Visayan Tribune, January 31, 1977.)

More of Iloilo’s Firsts

(Text from 19th Fiesta in the City Exhibit)

Perhaps no other province in the Philippines has a record of so many “firsts” as the Province of Iloilo.

The following list is by no means complete:

The first school for boys in the Philippines was founded in Tigbauan, Iloilo by Jesuit priest Pedro Chirino in 1592.

The first Christian church in the Philippines was built in the present-day Brgy. Ermita in Dumangas, Iloilo in 1566. The first province outside Manila to have a foreign business house and the first foreign vice-consul. The first province to export sugar to Australia.

The first province to have two cities during the Spanish period – Iloilo City, chartered in 1890, and Jaro City, chartered in 1891.

The first province outside Manila to have electricity, telephone, telegraph, railway, ice plant, automobiles, and other modern conveniences.

The first department store in the Philippines opened in Iloilo in 1877 – Hoskyn and Company.

The first province to have direct shipping links with Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Europe, and the United States. The first commercial airline in the Philippines was the Iloilo-Negros Air Express Company (INAEC) owned by brothers Eugenio and Fernando Lopez.

The first provincial high school in the Philippines opened in Iloilo in 1902 – Iloilo High School.

The first Baptist church in the Philippines opened in Iloilo in 1900-Jaro Evangelical Church.

The first luxury liner in the Philippines was SS Don Esteban of the Iloilo-based De la Rama Lines.

The first provincial branch of the Banco Español Filipino de Isabel II was opened in Iloilo on 15 March 1897. The first province to have double-decked buses.

The first province outside Manila to have modern cinema houses and theatres.

The first concrete road in the Philippines is the stretch from Forbes Bridge to the Plaza of Jaro.

The first province to have a car assembly plant – Taller Visayas de Strachan and McMurray, Ltd.

The oldest existing golf course in the Philippines is the Iloilo Golf and Country Club (as known as the Santa Barbara Golf Course) which was established in 1907.

The only province to have an anti-biotic drug named after it – Ilozone and Ilotycin (brands of erythromycin, a wonder drug developed from a soil sample from Iloilo). The first Augustinian university in the Asia-Pacific region – University of San Agustin.

The first and only maritime university in South-East Asia – John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University.

The founder of the Propaganda Movement was an Ilonggo – Graciano Lopez Jaena (1856-1896).

The first Filipino feminist was an Ilonggo – Pura Villanueva Kalaw (1886-1954).

The first Filipino to fly a passenger plane was an Ilonggo -Jose Tinsay (1898-1947).

The first Filipino to earn a Doctor of Laws degree from Oxford University was an Ilonggo – Melquiades Gamboa y Jereos (1896-1974).

The first Filipino to earn a Ph.D. in Political Science was Ilonggo-Victorino Diamonon (University of Iowa, 1920).

The first Filipino to earn a Doctor of Education degree was an Ilonggo – Pedro E. Y. Rio (Temple University, 1935). The first Filipino woman to earn a Ph.D. in Engineering was an Ilonggo – Josette Garcia Portigo (Michigan State University, 1960).

The first Filipino to earn a Ph.D. in Anthropology was an Ilonggo – Felipe Landa Jocano (University of Chicago, 1962)

The first Filipino to earn a Congressional Medal of Honor during World War II was an Ilonggo – Capt. Jose Calugas (1907-1998).

The first Filipino soldier in the US Army to be honored by the governments of the United States, Belgium, and France for heroism during World War II – Sgt. Ramon Subejano (1905-1988).

The record holder for the highest score in the Philippine bar examinations, with his 1954 mark of 96.7 percent, is Ilonggo – Florenz Regalado (1928-2015).

The first Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of the Philippines was an Ilonggo – Major General Rafael Jalandoni (1905-1968).

The first Filipino international chess grandmaster is an Ilonggo – Eugene Torre (born 4 November 1951).

The first Filipino to earn the moniker “the fastest woman in Asia” was an Ilonggo – Inocencia Solis (1932-2001). The first Filipino president of the Manila Stock Exchange (now the Philippine Stock Exchange) was an Ilonggo – Pacifico Plana Ledesma (1901-1972).

The first Filipino to have a planet named after her is an Ilonggo – Dr. Josette T. Biyo (minor planet 13241 Biyo).


Sheila is a digital marketing enthusiast. She is a kdrama fan, a dog person and a certified foodie!

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