Ilonggos and visitors alike are falling in love with the splendor of Singapore Quay-inspired 1.2-kilometer Iloilo Esplanade at the riverbank in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

It was opened on a star-studded note with boxing superstar and Saranggani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson and Ilonggo leaders Sen. Franklin Drilon, Rep. Jerry Treñas and Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog leading the inaugural rites Aug. 18.

It was a rare opportunity to see up-close the “Pambansang Kamao” getting mobbed by fans.

Mabilog said the Esplanade serves as an attraction for Ilonggos and visitors to enjoy public entertainment including dragon boat and baroto races and fireworks display as well as endeavors 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.

Facebook 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.

The Esplanade undoubtedly becomes 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 is an ideal place for children and adult healthy lifestyle buffs and other fitness-loving aficionados.

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

The development project definitely boosts 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 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 1st Philippine International River Summit even as President Benigno Aquino visited the site June 1.