Many wealthy families in the Philippines can trace their ancestry from rich landowners in Iloilo. To name a few, the Lopezes, Ledesmas, Montinolas, Aranetas and many more. At present, Negros ( where many Ilonggos moved to) supplies 70% of our country’s total sugar production.
To live like a haciendero is one of my dreams. Airy and spacious home overlooking vast plantations at dusk. But all these upscale way of living is due to the efforts of one person.
Let me introduce you to Sir Nicholas Loney..
If you have been traveling between Iloilo and Bacolod, I’m pretty sure you have seen our dear Uncle Nicholas
His statue “greets” passengers and is at the end of this road ironically named Muelle Loney or Loney Wharf.
I challenged my helper who hails from Negros and my own husband who travel Iloilo- Bacolod at least twice a month. And both of them have no idea who this man is. As I expected..
So a short biography can be seen in this rusty insignia
He was born in Plymouth, Devonshire in England in 1826; he went to the Philippines as a trader in 1851. He was appointed as the first English Vice-Consul in Iloilo. When Iloilo was declared as an international port, Loney made major contributions in fostering the local economies of Panay and Negros Island by improving the islands’ main industry – sugar. He offered financial assistance to growers and introduced modern facilities when it comes to harvesting and processing canes into sugar.
His Loney and Company is the first foreign-owned trading house in Iloilo. Other than sugar exportation, he also engaged in other industries amidst Spanish control during that time. He died in 1869 and was buried in Iloilo.
He made this port one of the most prosperous in the country giving rise to Iloilo as the Queen City of the South ( I know there are many debates on this issue, that will be another post ok?)
Now wait this wharf is not as busy as those of other ports but imagine this participating in international trade more then 150 years ago. I hope this post will give you a different attitude towards that old lonely statue of Nicholas Loney. I hope you too will give a second or two and look at him, thanking him for what he did to the marvelous city of Iloilo.