The Royal Street of Iloilo: Calle Real
Belle Piccio | May 20, 2014
JM Basa Street, or popularly known as “Calle Real,” is Iloilo City’s historic center.
Declared as a heritage site of Iloilo, the Downtown Iloilo City Heritage District, this is where you can see old buildings that were constructed during the Commonwealth era along J.M. Basa, Iznart, Aldeguer and Guanco.
It’s like exploring in a museum. You’ll see old buildings that were built during the late Spanish era that survived World War II and have fended off the ravages of time.
The street has served as a shopping district and entertainment center since 1930.
Calle Real is also called "Escolta," similar to Manila's own historic street of commerce. It is referred to as “Calle Real” or “Royal Street” because the street stretches from Plaza Libertad (Plaza Alfonso XII) going to the Plazoleta Gay, as well as to the Iloilo Provincial Capitol (also known as Casa Real) going to Iloilo’s elite residences.
It's believed that Dr. Rizal had the chance to visit Escolta and the Molo Church when Rizal’s boat, the S.S. España, arrived at Iloilo. "The liveliness of the Escolta pleased me," said the national hero.
Here’s an excerpt from ilongo.weebly.com about Dr. Jose Rizal when he was passing through Iloilo on his way from Dapitan to Manila on August 4, 1986:
"Dr. Jose Rizal was much impressed by the appearance of the city. He wrote: 'The entrance to Iloilo is beautiful. From afar can be seen the white city set in water, a nymph of galvanized iron, a modern creation, poetic in spirit of its iron uniform.'"
The buildings of Calle Real have witnessed Iloilo’s misfortunes and grandeur. They are reminders to the Ilonggos of their contribution to Philippine culture.
How to Get There
From Manila, you can fly to Iloilo (estimated cost of Php3,000++, round trip, one hour). From Iloilo Airport, you can hail a cab and ask to be dropped off at your destination.