10 celebrities who hail from the province of Iloilo
The province of Iloilo is dubbed “The Heart of the Philippines,” so it’s no wonder that the famous personalities who call it home are also so beloved.
Famed for its Old-World charm, Iloilo is rich in pristine and quaint beaches, clean and green streets, and glorious festivals.
From actors to beauty queens and athletes, here are 10 celebrities who hail from Iloilo or have strong Ilonggo ties.
On October 25, 2020, Rabiya Mateo made her hometown in Iloilo proud when she was crowned as the next bearer of the Miss Universe Philippines title.
The beauty queen marked a new milestone recently, when she announced that she has finally acquired a permanent home address in Iloilo for her and her family.
Holding back tears, she said in an Instagram Reel uploaded on January 22, 2023, “I’m kinda getting emotional kasi parang, looking back then… Parang it was so impossible for us to have a property kasi nagre-rent lang kami.
“At sa lahat ng blessings na pumasok talaga, God is so good. So hopefully, in the coming years, mas mapaganda pa namin yung bahay na ito.”
Read also: Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Mateo gets warm welcome from Ilonggos in homecoming motorcade
One of Iloilo’s pride, Edu Manzano, relived his boyhood on May 16, 2021, when he shared pictures of the probinsya way of life, where the harvest is abundant.
The popular television host, drama actor and comedian wrote, “Samsara’s last harvest before habagat! The traditional way of harvesting mangoes. Memories of my youth in Concepcion, Iloilo.”
In one of the Leni-Kiko rallies held in Iloilo last year, Edu’s partner Cherry Pie Picache hyped up the crowd when she quipped, “Ang sarap ng Ilonggo,” after sharing two kisses with Edu.
Read also: Edu Manzano nearly lost paraphernalia he borrowed from retired general Benjamin Magalong for Mamasapano movie
In one of GMA Regional TV‘s episodes in February 2021, Paul Salas was featured as an Ilonggo Kapuso actor.
Paul shared, “Taga-Iloilo po kami. Yung mom ko nasa Iloilo. ‘Tapos, hanggang five years old nandiyan po ako. So yung lolo ko nandiyan pa rin.
“Na-miss ko nga yung hometown nga na tinatawag hometown, kasi diyan ako halos lumaki. So ang nami-miss ko diyan siguro po yung batchoy, ano pa ba.”
While he fully understands Hiligaynon, Paul admitted to not being able to speak it fluently.
Read also: Teen star Paul Salas denies being the breadwinner of his family
Jose Mari Chan
Jose Mari Lim Chan has become a popular meme on social media, thanks to his very popular Christmas song, “Christmas In Our Hearts,” that has become the anthem signaling the beginning of the holiday season as early as September.
But long before he became an internet icon, he had already established his niche as one of country’s most prolific singer/songwriters and respected pillars of Original Pilipino Music (OPM).
The holiday icon was born on March 11, 1945, in Iloilo City, and was the first-born child of Antonio Chan and Florencia Lim.
His father was an immigrant from Fujian, China who came to the Philippines at age 13, and started Binalbagan Isabela Sugar Company, Inc., a sugar trading company in Bacolod. Jose Mari eventually inherited this company and became its chairman and CEO.
Jose Mari considers himself a businessman first, and a singer-songwriter second.
Read also: Lea Salonga collabs with Pentatonix in Jose Mari Chan classic “Christmas In Our Hearts”
Born as Marietta Subong on August 27, 1970, in Iloilo City, Pokwang was the seventh among eleven children.
A cook in her own right, Pokwang showcases her culinary passion on the show Kusina ni Mamang, which airs on BuKo Channel.
Inspired by her Ilonggo roots, Pokwang prepared the Cansi Ilonggo dish for now ex-partner Lee O’Brian, on June 20, 2019.
She stated, “Cansi is like a combination of bulalo and sinigang. Mga Ilonggo, gusto gid. I learned this from my tatay, because tatay is Ilonggo, he used to cook this.
“When I was a kid, I was watching my tatay’s cooking and also my nanay.”
Read also: Pokwang on ex-partner Lee O’Brian: “Anim na taon ko na pala siya palamunin.”
Professional basketball player Kiefer Ravena, who rose to prominence by playing for the Ateneo Blue Eagles of the UAAP during his college days, is a proud Ilonggo.
He and then-girlfriend of seven years, pro volleyball player Alyssa Valdez, got into an adobong Ilonggo cook-off, where Kiefer emerged victorious with a home-court advantage.
“Medyo mataas yung standards ng adobong Ilonggo dito sa bahay kaya pressured kaming dalawa,” he spoke.
Until today, he fluently speaks Ilonggo when talking to fans from his hometown.
Read also: Kiefer Ravena cries foul over cheating allegations after breakup with Alyssa Valdez
Like a lot of Kapamilya stars, Myrtle Sarrosa‘s path to fame started when she joined the reality TV show Pinoy Big Brother.
Dubbed the Cosplayer Cutie of Iloilo, Myrtle ultimately became her batch edition’s Big Winner.
Prior to entering show business, however, Myrtle held the position of Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) president in her hometown Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo.
Myrtle revealed during the virtual media conference for Sisters Sanitary Napkins and Pantyliners in March 2022: “Coming from a political family, my grandfather was a mayor of Barotac, Iloilo for over a decade, my father was the No. 1 councilor in Barotac, Iloilo…
“I’m very much close to the government and yung heart ko talaga nandun sa pagtulong sa iba’t ibang mga tao.”
Despite these political ties and inclinations, Myrtle said her showbiz career prompts her to keep mum about her political stance.
Read also: Myrtle Sarrosa: From bagsak in elementary to cum laude in college
Singer-songwriter Jed Madela was born and raised in Iloilo City. His father, who was a choirmaster in their church, served as his mentor every time he joined singing contests in his younger years.
For some time, Jed served as the lead vocalist of two local bands, Pose and Divest.
On working with Lea Salonga in the past, he recalled, “It was for this university… for a certain university, na anniversary nila and I was her guest. Then, I performed with her when she went to Bacolod and Iloilo… sobrang na-overwhelm ako talaga!”
Jed also has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of San Agustin in Iloilo.
Read also: Jed Madela admits he once considered quitting showbiz: “Wala nang pumapansin.”
At the height of the pandemic in July 2020, Kapuso talent Prince Stefan talked about what it was like when he went back to his roots.
“Noong busy kasi ako and I was at the top of my game, I took my relatives for granted. More on friends and love life ang focus ko noon,” Prince confessed.
“Pero nang mag-declare ng lockdown sa Luzon noong March 15 dahil sa coronavirus pandemic, umuwi ako sa hometown ko, sa Iloilo City.
“I was so happy to be with my family. Nag-bonding kami ng mga pamangkin ko.”
Read also: 16 coming-out stories of Filipino celebrities
Filipino-British musical artist Beatrice Kristi Ilejay Laus, professionally known as Beabadoobee, was born in Iloilo City on June 3, 2000, before moving to London with her parents at the age of 3.
Her name may be familiar to some because of her 2017 hit single “Coffee,” which has had over 50 million views on Spotify.
The remix of her track by Powfu, Death Bed (Coffee for Your Head), became a summer anthem on TikTok in 2020, as the sixth most-streamed song.
On January 19, 2023, the singer went back to the Philippines and announced to her over two million Instagram followers (published as is): “i’m HOMe [butterfly emoji] and i might jus neva come back!
“v happy to come back to where i am from, i’m one very content bea [heart emoji] ilo ilo 4ever”
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