Under the administration of Mayor Mansueto Malabor, the Iloilo Cultural Heritage Conservation Council was created by a group of citizens desiring to arrest the continuing decay of heritage buildings and the decline of cultural appreciation amongst the youth. Thus, never more fittingly so, at the turn of the 21st century, the first stirrings of a group passionate about cultural conservation huddled in the tiny office of then councilor Atty .Jun Jacela. Many from the cultural mainstream of Iloilo were invited but few decided to soldier on: former banker and rotarian Emmanuel “Nonel” Gemora, Architect Manuel Tingzon Jr., and head of city planning, Jose Roni Penalosa.. In a consultative public planning session, the group then sought to institute the vision and mission of ICHCC which was to aim to make Iloilo city the cultural heritage capital of the Visayas – a rather tall order considering the ever constant rivalry of Cebu and Iloilo.
Under the administration of former Mayor Jerry P. Trenas, a resolution was in place appointing an executive committee to finally give juridical and official entity to the Iloilo City Cultural Heritage & Conservation Council. The mayor of course was the honorary chairman, but the torch bearer who was formerly an outspoken critic now-turned convert was the able-bodied Architect Antonio Sangrador viced by FUAP fellow member, Manual Tingzon Jr. This time around more private sector members who were known to be active in the local cultural mainstream were invited to join and consequently became members: namely Mr. Eugene Jamerlan, Dr,. Kristin Gaon Trenas, Ms. Luth Camina, Oskie L.Arenas, Mr. Joseph Albania, Mr. Eric Divinigracia and official representatives such as Mr. Edward Yee in his capacity as President of the Hotel & Restaurant Ass’n, Ms. Desiree Bretana in her capacity as regional network head of ABS-CBN, and several architect Presidents of various Architectural chapters: Architects Rony de Juan of Hamili, Gaudencio Arancillo 3rd and Jo mari Moleta of Marikudo, Wilfredo S. Sy, Jr. of Iloilo Chapter. As professional public servants: Mr. Edwin Trompeta in his capacity as Department of Tourism head, Mr. Noel Z. Hechanova head of CENRO and OIC of the city’s river rehabilitation project ., former kagawad Merci Drilon Garcia representing the city council and Arch’t Regina Corteza Gregorio as representative of the city engineer’s office. Under the auspices of Mayor Trenas, the Heritage Month held every May in conjunction with the National Commission on Culture & the Arts’ annual celebration, was instituted to raise public awareness of the rich culture Ilonggos ought to preserve. Another notable achievement of the group was the drafting, concurrence from the City Council, and the dissemination in print, of the Preservation guidelines. In other words, local laws were now in place to protect buildings in the Central Business District from wanton demolition without respect to preservation.
Under the administration of Mayor Jed Mabilog, municipal funding for the group was formally instituted. This funding is focused mainly on recording and cataloging extant cultural gems. By this time, cultural mapping, cataloging of buildings 50 years or older, as well as actual implementation of the preservation guidelines are ongoing with the assistance of the City Engineer’s office . Although much is yet to be done and public funding is being studied, much has been achieved in the areas of public awareness. The ICCHCC as a cultural advisory group or “lighthouse”- guiding architects and building owners to see the wisdom of preserving our visibly rich cultural landmarks and practices hopes to gain more public and institutional support in the future with local and international NGOs and cultural institutions.