The Iloilo river, a 15 km long estuarine, is a historical mute witness to living in “La Muy Leal Y Noble Ciudad de Iloilo” (the most loyal and noble city of Iloilo) since the Spanish occupation times.
The river has been a rich fishing ground — natural habitat to diverse species of mangrove and marine life. Over several decades, the Iloilo River has the city’s people to their livelihood, transportation, and many other dimensions of life.
Just as sailing to the river of lives, sometimes it gets rough and the Iloilo River has encountered multifaceted problems — water contamination, declining volume of dissolved oxygen, depletion of mangrove areas, encroachment of manmade structures, and many more.
The sight of the river flowing is also sign of hope beckoning.
The Iloilo City government and the city’s various stakeholders behold this hope. They have studied the problem and had resolved to work together to bring back the river to life. Thus was born the Iloilo River Development project.
The project aims for a community river that promotes ecological balance, develops society’s well-being and quality of life, displays aesthetic harmony of nature and structures and supports local, regional, and national economic activities for a more progressive Iloilo City.
In recent years, the project has enhanced the natural landscape of the estuarine. It has further built a complementary landscape in its surrounding areas — mangrove areas had been reforested; biodiversity studies in the area had been made; a regular monthly clean-up has been undertaken by volunteer groups; illegal fish pens had been removed; a river watchdog has been formed; informal settlers along the river had been relocated; a boulevard which has become a venue for fitness activities has been constructed along the river; and pedestrian promenade has been setup.
The Iloilo River Development Project has also been a vehicle for the preservation of cultural heritage and for the promotion of culture and arts. The river has also been the subject of painting and essay writing contests in connection with the annual Iloilo River week celebration.
The Iloilo River Eco-Park has been recognized a model for a community-initiated eco-park. Studies on the river have yielded recommendations that have significantly enforced compliance with the Clean Water Act.
One of the most strategic factors behind the success of the project is the spirit of volunteerism. The involvement of empowered communities and the close partnership between the government and the private sector had yielded positive results.
The Iloilo River Development Project has brought back life to the once dying river. The project has demonstrated that it is great to harmonize man-made progress with the natural environment.
Development ripples from the Iloilo River to Iloilo City and its people.