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Falling for the ‘City of Love’

Falling for the ‘City of Love’

Ronald Rey M. de los Reyes

Plus, they’re big pickup lovers there, too, Isuzu Iloilo attests


In our recent trip to Iloilo, not only did we discover that the “City of Love” is a treasure trove of historical sites, a haven of cultural festivals and (literally) a stone’s throw away from “The Mango Capital of the Philippines,” Guimaras; it’s also known as the ‘pickup country’ in the Island of Panay.

Founded in 1566, Iloilo, known then as “Irong Irong” deriving its name from the nose-like structure of the river that geographically divides the province, was one of the first few islands conquered by the Spanish conquistador, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, alongside Cebu Island. In fact, back in its heyday, Iloilo was even considered one of the most progressive cities in the country. Merchants from China and India have long traded with the Ilonggos even before the Spaniards came. It proved to be an important trading post with its beautiful harbor with serene and calm waters, safe for navigation, protected from the open sea by scenic Guimaras Island. One can even see the old buildings, which were inspired by the Europeans and Americans, such as: stately mansions, majestic century-old churches and heritage commercial buildings.

“Iloilo, I’m proud to say, used to be one of the best cities in the country. In our history it was one of the first centers of commerce and trade,” said Isuzu Iloilo general sales manager, Ivan Arriola, in his manly yet sweet Hilgaynon tone, during one of our conversations when he warmly welcomed me at the airport on the evening of my arrival there.

“It was flourishing back then,” he enthused.

“But–now–with the number of investors in the province, like in real estate, commercial properties, BPO (business process outsourcing), tourism and trade, I believe, we are well on our way there again.”

Colorful and energetic Dinagyang Festival

A quaint city

Speaking of tourism, during the previous administration, Iloilo had undergone a number of changes and improvements. One of which was the rehabilitation of the Iloilo River. This body of water that starts in Oton at the Batiano estuary, then stretches through the districts of Lapuz, La Paz, Mandurriao, Molo, Arevalo and the city proper.

Here, one can instantly fall in love with the Iloilo River Esplanade, known to be “A Green Oasis in the Heart of Iloilo City.”

“It’s a very romantic place,” Arriola said. “It’s actually where my wife and I date. It’s where we jog, as well.”

Aside from than the Esplanade, other idyllic places to visit within the area are historical sites, such as: the Molo Church, Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral, Plaza Libertad, and Camina Balay nga Bato, just to name a few.

Last month, the city just celebrated one of the most-awaited festivities in the county, the Dinagyang Festival.

Also–here–it’s just a 15-minute boat ride going to Guimaras Island, another romantic place to add to that bucket list.

3,800-sqm Isuzu Iloilo dealership along Benigno Aquino Avenue

A multi-awarded dealership rising back to its feet again

“Other than sharing to you the beautiful places to go here, we’re proud to say that Iloilo is a ‘pickup country’, as well,” Arriola averred.

“Actually, most of our sales here come from our Isuzu D-Max.”

The 13-year dealership general sales manager even shared that there was a time that their own pickup model was able to surpass the sales of the leading carmaker in the country.

“Back in 2014–in fact–our Isuzu D-Max even outsold the Toyota Hilux,” he divulged.

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“Also, back then, we were the only dealership that was awarded as the ‘Most Improved Dealership’ for three consecutive years,” he continued.

In 2017 and 2018, Arriola shared further that they were recognized by Isuzu Philippines Corporation as the ‘Dealer of the Year’ for two consecutive years.

“But now, after the pandemic, it’s so hard to get back on our feet. We still feel the brunt,” he–however–segued.

According to him, the Isuzu Iloilo dealership, sitting on a 3,800-sqm area, with eight bays, four-car showroom, built in 2006 is well on its way for renovation.

“Maybe with a new IOS standard, new facade, new showroom and bigger facilities, we’ll get a fresh start,” he said.

“Like what’s happening here in Iloilo, we’re getting back on our feet again.”

“Like what we have always done ever since, it’s always about the people. We take care of our customers and, at the same time, we take care of our own people,” he concluded.

“We cherish and nurture them.”

Isuzu Iloilo general sales manager, Ivan Arriola (center), together with his staff, in a festive mood as they celebrated the Dinagyang Festival last month