Make your own free website on
Home | A Brief Portrait & Family History | Family Members List Page | Family & Relatives: A Background on the Gumban of Pavia | A Brief History of Pavia, Iloilo | Saying Goodbye To A Mother, Grandmother & Great-Grandmother | Contact Me
The Life & Times Of Encarnacion Janduquile y Gumban vda de Himatay, 1904-2004
A Brief History of Pavia, Iloilo

Pavia is a small town, covering only 3,804 hectares of prime farmland.
It is close to the provincial capital of Iloilo, a short 15-minute drive from the City proper.  Historically, it has alternatively been part of Santa Barbara, and an arabal of Jaro.  The geography of the town is flat, and the fertile soil makes it ideal for planting rice, coconuts and other fruit trees.  However, the 19th-century Augustinian friars working in Iloilo noted in their histories that most of the residents worked primarily as entrepreneurs.  This was probably due to the proximity of Pavia to the City.  But this proximity was also a mixed blessing, as it caused many of the residents to fall prey to the usurious moneylenders from Jaro.
Pavia was officially founded in 1862.  How the town got its name is unclear, and has long been disputed.  One theory has it that the name came from a certain Colonel Pavia of the Spanish garrison in Iloilo who was supposedly responsible for initially establishing a Spanish presence in the area.  Others believe that the name is a Spanish corruption of the Hiligaynon word biya-biya, as the area was originally considered a neglected patch of land that served mostly as a camping ground for city sophisticates and absentee landlords.  Others claim that the town was named after a Spanish governor-general, Manuel Pavia y Lay, Marquis of Novaliches, who eventually became a priest after his short tenure in the Philippines from 1853-1854.  However, this author believes that the more credible theory seems to be the overlooked fact that the town's religious well-being was placed under the jurisdiction and supervision of the friars of the Augustinian Order, and they simply named the place in honor of the town in Pavia, Italy, where the founder of their order, Saint Augustine, was buried.
The last theory seems to be supported by circumstantial historical evidence: it was also in 1862 that an independent parish dedicated to Saint Monica was established by an Augustinian friar, Policarpio Minayo.  But it was only in 1889 when construction of the famous brick church -- as it now stands -- began.  It was envisioned and built in the Byzantine style, with Romanesque design elements.  Two Greek crosses dominate the facade, and the transept is round set against the rear wall.  It is unique in the whole of Panay Island, as it is the only church built entirely of red brick, inside and out.  Quite significantly, the church design was apparently inspired by the ancient royal archbasilica of San Michele Maggiore in Pavia, Italy -- minus the front columns.*  **
Its alternative history, however, has it that 13 large landowners were actually the town's founding fathers 14 years earlier, in 1848: Marcos Evangelista, Graciano Gonzaga, Constantino Gumban, Vicente Hechanova, Anacleto Hedriana, Jorge Jagolino, Locario Juntanilla, Barbario Maquiling, and the brothers Ramos, Remigio, Leocadio, Gregori and Mariano Maquiling.
In their honor, streets around the town plaza were named after them.  It was said that the landholdings of each of these founding fathers "stretched as far as the eyes could see" -- although these properties were perhaps more realistically measured in sizes that ranged from 100 to 300 hectares only.  Much of the original families' patrimonies, though, have been diluted through the decades and contributed to their decline.  But only the Gumban have maintained a dominating political presence in the town for most of the 20th century.

* The seventh-century royal archbasilica of San Michele Maggiore, which was rebuilt in the 11th century, is not only the oldest in Pavia, Italy, but is also considered a good example of High Romanesque architecture.  It is a historically-important structure as well, since many Lombard emperors and kings were crowned within its interiors during the Middle Ages -- among them Charlemagne as King of the Lombards in 774, and the Hohenstaufen Frederick Barbarossa as Holy Roman Emperor in 1155.  Some have argued that the church in Pavia, Iloilo was inspired by yet another historically-important church in Pavia, Italy -- that of the San Pietro In Ciel D'Oro, rebuilt in the 12th century, which is notable for its brick facade.  Considering that the church of Santa Monica was built by Augustinian monks, this observation may have its merits; the San Pietro In Ciel D'Oro is famous as the final resting place of Augustine of Hippo.  The body of the saint was brought to Pavia sometime in the 8th century and re-interred below its altar.  This famous church has also been mentioned by Dante in his Divine Comedy, and by Petrarch in his poetry.  (For photos on the two above-mentioned churches, please refer to the website
** It is interesting to note that the first church bell of Pavia was made from bronze coins donated by the Gumban family.  Oldtimers recall that it had a pure, strong tone that reverberated throughout the town when rung.  It could be heard from Pavia's farthest barrios.  Sadly, one of Pavia's parish priests, a certain Father Martinez, moved the bronze bell to a church in Santa Barbara.