Iloilo Float is Grand Champion at Parada ng Kalayaan 2024

By Mariela Angella Oladive

Iloilo’s “Cry of Sta. Barbara” float clinched the Grand Champion title in the First Sparks of Freedom (historical) float category at the 126th Philippine Independence Day Parada ng Kalayaan on June 12 at the Quirino Grandstand.

The float bested entries from nine other local government units (LGUs).

Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. received the award on June 13, along with a trophy and a cash prize of P1 million, presented by Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. and National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Chairperson Lisa Nakpil at the DILG Extension Office in Mandaluyong.

Abalos commended Iloilo’s float for “capturing the essence of being a Filipino” and highlighted its significance in representing the country’s struggle for freedom.

Sta. Barbara Tourism Officer Irene Magallon expressed the province and municipality’s privilege in being selected to participate in the Independence Day parade.

“The identity of Sta. Barbara, when it comes to nationalism and love of our local history, is there because we were still able to preserve our historic event. A lot of municipalities would also want to be recognized, so they are making their efforts, but we are already there,” Magallon said.

She added that national cultural agencies have already recognized the historical significance of Sta. Barbara.

“It is the pride of every Sta. Barbaranhon. We have to preserve that pride,” she said.

The provincial government noted that the float conveys “a powerful message of unity, resilience, and the enduring spirit of freedom,” celebrating the collective strength of the Ilonggo people and their pivotal role in the broader narrative of Philippine independence.

The float commemorated the Cry of Santa Barbara, a historical event on November 17, 1898, which marked the establishment of the Revolutionary Government of the Visayas with Roque Lopez as president and General Martin Delgado as the general-in-chief of the army.

It was also the first time the Philippine flag was raised outside Luzon, representing the unity and determination of the Visayans’ fight against Spanish colonial rule.

The float featured the Santa Barbara Church and convent, the sites where Delgado convened the junta or council that orchestrated the first cry for revolution against Spanish rule in Iloilo. Both landmarks were declared a national landmark in 1990 and a national cultural treasure in 2013.

Magallon noted that all the materials for the float were shipped from Iloilo by the provincial government, with fabrication beginning in the last week of May. It took several days to assemble the float to ensure it was 75 percent complete by June 5 for pre-judging.

Alongside the float, performances representing LGUs with historic events were part of the parade. The Cry of Sta. Barbara was depicted by students from various national high schools in the municipality, which had gone viral across social media.

The float will remain on display at the CCP Complex until June 16.