Old Jaro Municipal Hall reverts to Iloilo City control

Mayor Jerry Treñas and National Museum Director General Jeremy Barns view some of the artworks inside the mayor’s office at the Iloilo City Hall. (Photo by Arnold Almacen)

By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan

The Old Jaro Municipal Hall has been officially handed back to the Iloilo City government on Wednesday, seven years after its restoration by the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP), the country’s principal agency for culture and heritage.

The transfer was formalized through the signing of a certificate of turnover by NMP Director General Jeremy Barns and Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas.

Barns’ visit also spotlighted the P4-million restoration project for the Spanish-era Fort San Pedro at the city’s periphery, a venture that will involve the city government’s engagement, particularly with businesses established on the fort’s historical site.

In a conversation with Daily Guardian over Viber, Mayor Treñas indicated that plans for the usage of the historic building are still being formulated by the city government.

The Old Jaro Municipal Hall, a creation of esteemed architect Juan Arellano—who also designed the former Iloilo City Hall, now the University of the Philippines Visayas city campus—exemplifies the Art Deco style prevalent during the American colonial period.

Completed in 1934, the hall predated the merger of the former City of Jaro with Iloilo City in 1941 by seven years.

Donated to the NMP in 2014, the museum invested P20 million in its restoration, and the building was reintroduced to the public in 2017.

Over the years, it has functioned as a district police headquarters, a fire station, and a district health center.

The hall, along with the adjacent Jaro Plaza and Jaro Cathedral, was included in the Iloilo City Cultural Heritage Tourism Zone, established under Republic Act No. 10555.

This act was authored by Treñas during his tenure as the city’s lone district representative and was signed into law by then-President Benigno Aquino III in May 2013.

In 2016, the Old Jaro Municipal Hall was proclaimed an Important Cultural Property, a status it shares with Fort San Pedro and the old Iloilo Provincial Jail—the latter currently the home of the NMP’s regional museum for Western Visayas.