Ilonggos are excited with the opening of the newly-constructed Iloilo Esplanade at the bank of Iloilo River in Mandurriao district, Iloilo City on Aug. 18.

Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog said the Esplanade will become an attraction for Ilonggos and visitors to enjoy public entertainment starting with the first national dragon boat competition here in the morning, battle of the bands in the afternoon to be capped by concert and fireworks display at night highlighting its opening program.

Senators Franklin Drilon and Loren Legarda together with boxing superstar and Saranggani Rep. Manny Pacquiao will grace the Esplanade inaugural rites at 8AM.

Baroto (local boat) races will kick off in the river on Aug. 25 at 10AM.

Refreshing and scenic Iloilo Esplanade photos posted on Facebook (FB) as a sneak peek have generated well-wishers and commendations for Mabilog and Drilon for the realization of the development project bringing the river back to life.

The Esplanade has become a source of pride for the Ilonggos who are very much excited to witness the showcase of a wonderful transformation of a vibrant and livable city.

FB friends especially those abroad expressed their love and longing for their hometown and its newest attraction, saying they can’t wait to go home and visit the place they miss most when they go on vacation this December.

“Let’s bring all your friends and have a memorable experience of the town! Life is so short and we should really make the best out of it. I am so proud of Iloilo and all the people in-charge! Very good job and merit to the mayor,” stressed Ricardo Nuangay Moleño Noserale on FB.

“Iloilo has a lot of things that can truly be proud of to the world. I think it is now the time to show the ‘hidden crown’ of the ‘real queen’ to the whole world. It is now Iloilo’s time to shine ‘again’,” declared Godfrey Sompia, referring to Iloilo’s old glory as the “Queen City of the South.”

“No doubt it’s beautiful there when nighttime comes when everybody makes it their meeting place and hang-out. Go Iloilo! Kudos to the people in-charge for making this happens!” Ivo Cataluna exclaimed.

“It is beautiful where we can enjoy the nightlife and beauty of our beloved city,” said Maria Capra Malones.

The Iloilo Esplanade will undoubtedly become one of the city’s major tourist destinations, thus promoting the grandeur of river.

It is also expected to inspire and attract other businesses along the boulevard such as hotels, restaurants, theme parks and other fun establishments.

An eco-park, recreational and fun area, the Esplanade will be an ideal place for children and adult healthy lifestyle buffs and other fitness-loving aficionados, she said.

Trees and other ornamental plants are planted to enhance its scenery. Food kiosks will be provided to cater the needs of park-goers.

This project will definitely boost the city’s tourism industry as well as an avenue for social recreations in the metropolis with fast rising developments and home of famous historical landmarks.

It hosts viewing decks and trees beautifying the Esplanade which will serve as a leisure place for a respite from busy city life but without going too far.

The P70-M Widening of Treñas Boulevard (Esplanade) project initiated by Drilon and implemented by DPWH-6 even saved money upon subjected to competitive bidding and awarded to a private contractor at a cost of P58-M.

The 1.2-kilometer stretch linking Aquino and Carpenters Bridges included the construction of concrete paving, retaining wall, 4-meter wide interlocking block pavement, slope protection, landscaping and other amenities.

It became a showcase of global river protection when the city hosted the 1stPhilippine International River Summit even as President Benigno Aquino visited the site June 1.

Photo credits: Tara Yap