The International Hotel in Calle Real

One night I was strolling down J.M. Basa Street, now known as Calle Real in Iloilo City, and I stopped on the corner of the adjacent block just to stare at the restored Villanueva Building which was used to be the International Hotel in the 60s.

Of course, at present, black spaghetti wires run through the air, lighted buildings with different advertising materials plastered all over them, vendors all over the place, and the beauty of one structure that still stood has been shared by the neighboring elements around it.

Calle Real before

All my life I have been curious of what Iloilo City was like in the past. I have dreams of standing on that same spot, witnessing people riding on the calesa, prominent men and women crossing the street with fancy dresses and suits just like in old movies, with their hand gloves and canes and even pipes while walking along.

I would always end up imagining an old Iloilo, the time that it had the title “Queen City of the South,” that time when businesses in the nearby port has been booming non-stop, that time when Chinese, British, Spanish, and English men deal with the locals, to trade, to import and export goods.

What a fascinating time it would have been to live in that decade.

So I painted the International Hotel in Calle Real, stripped off from the many buildings overshadowing its remarkable beauty, isolated from the billboards and electrical wires dangling everywhere. I just wanted to illustrate what I think it was in the past, that Spanish feel of the old city of love that I was not able to physically witness.

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