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Newly-Restored Historic Park Shines A Light On Iloilo City

) Katrina Gadong |

Despite the ongoing rapid developments for residential and commercial centers in Iloilo City, the "City of Love" still makes room for heritage buildings and green spaces, upholding its value for not only economic success but also the environment and health of its people as well as its history and culture. With the recent reopening of a historic park at the heart of downtown, Ilonggos have another reason to add to the list of things to take pride in for their city.

Photo by Randy Javier Fadrigo

History remembered and revived
Formerly known as Plaza de Aduana given its position right in front of the Iloilo Customs House (Aduana), the Sunburst Park has been restored to its former glory and was formally turned over to the city government just January 11, 2019. It takes its name after the United States Army 40th Infantry “Sunburst” Division that helped liberate Panay from the Japanese Forces during the World War II and who assembled at this particular plaza.

Photo by Robbie Robles

Unobstructed view of two Ilonggo heritage
Prior to the renovation, the 600 sq. meter-Iloilo Freedom Grandstand sits at the location of the Sunburst Park and was unfortunately blocking the view of the old Aduana building. Part of the restoration project then included demolishing and reconstructing the grandstand along the nearby Muelle Loney area facing the Iloilo River, giving the grandstand's future audience an unmatched view of the water, especially during Dinagyang season.

Photo by Robbie Robles

Now offering the unobstructed view of the beautiful facade of the restored Custom's House, the Sunburst Park features open spaces for performances and activities, tree-shaded lawns for picnics, paths for jogging and other forms of exercise, a chess playground, and park benches. The statue of Gen. Macario Peralta, a World War II local hero, stands in the middle of the plaza while a giant sun design is marked on the ground and is best viewed from a tall building nearby.

Photo by Ivan Aguana

The revival of the Sunburst Park is part of the Iloilo Heritage and Urban Renewal Project, which aims to preserve the iconic architecture and historical landmarks in Iloilo. Iloilo's downtown area, the Central Business District, was declared a Heritage Zone by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.*