HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 62 no. 1 (2016)

Casa Real de Iloilo: The Tale of a Heritage Provincial Capitol

Demy P. Sonza



The Casa Real de Iloilo is the oldest and grandest building of its kind in the country. The heritage structure was built as the Provincial Capitol of Iloilo at the start of the sugar boom after the opening of the port of Iloilo to international trade in 1855. When it was completed in 1873, two publications in Madrid hailed it as “the magnificent Casa Real” and “the best of its kind, the most commodious and largest in the Philippines.” On 11 April 1901, the U.S. Philippine Commission headed by William Howard Taft inaugurated the civil government of Iloilo and inducted Gen. Martin T. Delgado as the first provincial governor at the Casa Real. Seven years later, on 27 December 1907, Gov. Benito Lopez was assassinated in the same building. The Casa Real was renovated in 1910 and heavily damaged in World War II. A large annex was built after the war, but this was gutted by fire in 1998. The building was declared a historical landmark in 2010 by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. It was restored to its pristine grandeur on time for the 2015 Independence Day celebration. This paper tells the colorful 150-year story of the Casa Real de Iloilo, where 18 Spanish and 29 Filipino governors had held office.