The Ultimate Guide to Molo District in Iloilo City

Molo is one of the seven districts in Iloilo City. It is the home of Molo Church, Pancit Molo, and a lot of notable people and “firsts” in the history. Above all, it is one of the centers of religion, trade, and education for Visayas.

According to THE “LOCSIN CLAN” OF THE PHILIPPINES By Dinggol Araneta Divinagracia, in 1750s, Wo Sing Lok, also known as “Sin Lok” arrived in Manila. He was 12 years old from Amoy, the old name for Xiamen, the southern part of Fujian Province.

Together with Sin Lok are the ancestors of Lacson, Sayson, Ditching, Layson, Ganzon, Sanson and other families who fled Southern China during the reign of the despotic Qing dynasty (1644–1912). They decided to sail south and landed at the port of Batiano River to settle permanently in “Parian” near La Villa Rica de Arevalo in Iloilo.

Wo Sing Lok became Christian. After that he changed his name Agustin Locsin.

It was originally the “Parian” of Iloilo. Parian is a place where Chinese traders thrived and where all the Chinese people are housed for easier taxation and supervision.

Several known families that came from Molo. For instance, the Locsin, Lacson, Sayson, Pison, Layson, Yusay, Sayson and Ganzon, among others, who are descended from Chinese immigrants who hispanized, adopted Roman Catholicism and settled in Molo.

In 1849, Gov. Gen. Narciso Claveria y Zaldua gave surnames to the Ilonggos whose first letters corresponded to the first letters of the names of the pueblos. In short, Molo was assigned surnames beginning with letter M. For example, Magahum, Mabilog, Maloto, Malabor, Mabaquiao, Manzano, Magbanua and Malabanjot.

The Origin of the Name

There is a couple of explanation regarding the origin of the name “Molo”.

First, it came from the word “moro”. Since majority of people are Chinese, they had a hard time pronouncing the “r” and kept on saying “molo” instead of “moro”. Molo was formerly “Parian” and frequently by raided by the Moros. There are only three parians in the country – Manila, Cebu and Iloilo. Like the parians in Manila and Cebu it is an enclosure against the Moros. In Manila, they have a place called Intramuros.

Second, that Molo derived its name from the Italians, meaning “pier”. It is a platform of stone or wood stretching from the shore into the sea. It believed to be once a port town on which the Italian traders would repair their ships before sailing. Centuries ago, the Iloilo “river” was accessible by Galleon all the way to Oton. The original port of Iloilo is near the present Molo-Mandurriao Bridge (Gov. Smith Bridge) at the back of the plaza. It was called Tabucan (river crossing).

According to Journal, Memorials and Letters of Cornelis Matelieff de Jonge: Security, Diplomacy and Commerce in 17th-century Southeast Asia, the early Dutch fleet commander Cornelis Matelieff de Jonge called at Panay in 1607. He mentions a town named “Oton” on the island where there were “18 Spanish soldiers with a number of other Spanish inhabitants so that there may be 40 whites in all”. He explained that “a lot of rice and meat is produced there, with which they [i.e. the Spanish] supply Manila.

The Molo Church

Molo is home to Saint Anne Parish Church, more commonly known as Molo Church.

In 1992, the National Historical Institute installed a marker on the church declaring it a national landmark.

Molo Church
Photo by: Sheila Mae Gomez

Read also: Iloilo City Cultural Heritage: Molo Church

Schools and Government Offices in Molo

During the Spanish times, Molo is already the home to four colleges:

Colegio de Santa Ana of the Avanceña sisters (Jovita and Ramona) Instituto Ensenanza Libre de Molo of Manuel Locsin
Centro Escolar de Molo of Salas brothers (Perfecto and Fernando) Escuela Publica

At present, it is now home of the following educational institutions:

Iloilo Doctor’s College John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University
Iloilo City Community College Holy Rosary Academy
St. Therese – MTC Colleges  

The national high school of the city, Iloilo City National High School (“City High”), is in Molo. In 1941, first free public high school in the Philippines. It is the Iloilo City High School and opened during the time of Mayor Rodolfo Ganzon.

Likewise, in 1905, Don Rosendo Mejica founded Baluarte Elementary School – the first public elementary school first public school under the American regime. Senators Rodolfo Ganzon and Franklin M. Drilon are alumni of this elementary school.

Moreover, Molo is also the home of the regional offices. Examples are, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (“DSWD”) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (“BIR”).

List of Barangays

The District has 25 barangays:

Brgy. Calumpang Brgy. North San Jose
Brgy. Cochero Brgy. Poblacion
Brgy. Compania Brgy. San Antonio
Brgy. East Baluarte Brgy. San Juan
Brgy. East Timawa Brgy. San Pedro
Brgy. Habog-Habog Salvacion Brgy. South Baluarte
Brgy. Infante Brgy. South Fundidor
Brgy. Kasingkasing Brgy. South San Jose
Brgy. Katilingban Brgy. Taal
Brgy. Molo Boulevard Brgy. Tap-oc
Brgy. North Avanceña Brgy. West Habog-Habog
Brgy. North Baluarte Brgy. West Timawa
Brgy. North Fundidor  

See also: List of Barangays in Iloilo City

List of Cultural Heritage Sites

Dominican Sisters Motherhouse Locsin Ancestral House
Don Roque Locsin Sanson Mansion (Harp Fence) Molo Church
Maria Clara Monument 02 Molo Convent
Molo Cemetery Arch Molo Plaza Complex
Molo Cemetery Camposanto Pablo Araneta y Soriano Marker
Rosendo Mejica Monument Pison Ancestral House 01 -MH Del Pilar St.
Baluarte Elementary School Pison Ancestral House 02 -San Jose St.
Carpenter’s Bridge Rosendo Mejica House
Esteban Juntado Sr. Memorial Elementary School – Gabaldon Building Yusay-Consing Mansion

Read also: 250+ Cultural Heritage Sites That You Must Visit in Iloilo City

People of Molo

Certainly, this is the home to several notable Ilonggos with significant contributions for the country.


Chief Justice Ramon Avanceña Justice Raymundo Melliza
Justice Gregorio Araneta (also secretary of the Malolos Congress and first secretary of justice) Justice Felicisimo Feria


Senator Francisco Villanueva Senator Jose Ma. Arroyo
Senator Esteban de la Rama Senator Francisco Zulueta
Senator Esperidion Guanco Senator Jose C. Zulueta
Senator Potenciano Treñas Senator Rodolfo Ganzon
Senator Franklin Drilon  

Generals of the Philippine Revolution

Esteban de la Rama (first commandant of the Philippine Marines) Angel Corteza
Raymundo Melliza Aniceto Lacson
Pablo Araneta  

Emergency Contact Numbers

The Medical City 500-1000
Iloilo Doctor’s Hospital 337-7702
Molo Fire Station 320-3932
Molo Police Station 337-9502 / 09985986248


See also: Iloilo City’s Emergency Hotlines


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

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