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PASSI CITY: The Sweet City in the Heart of Panay

Historical Background

Passi is one of Iloilo’s oldest towns. Originally settled by the three brothers Dig-on, Tokiab and Umawang. So far, recorded data of Passi’s past began with the arrival of Spanish conquistadors. Differences in languages were allegedly the reason how places got their names. How Passi got its name was told by tradition.

During the early days in Panay, a group of Spanish Conquistadores under Legaspi managed to find their way into the mouth of what is known as Jalaur River at Talaugis near Barotac Nuevo on a mission of exploring the hinterlands of Iloilo. They rode on a unique flatboat known as the "Sciata" (yacht) that could float and move easily on any kind of up or down stream travel. That trip took them to as far the sitio of Calinog, northwest of Passi.

One day, a bunch of these Spanish explorers came downstream. They anchored on a place farther west at the mouth of Lamunan River called Ansig. They stumbled on a small hut by the river bank where an old woman was found winnowing pounded palay. One of them asked her. "Como se Llama Este Lugar" not knowing the native language of course. Much to the old woman’s surprise and perhaps excitement, she replied without much ado "Pasi" which means some of the unhusked rice on her basket held in both hands. She must have thought that they were eager to know what was in the basket and what she was doing, because she could not understand their language.

From that time on, the Spanish begun to call the place "Pasi" at first. The word later evolved to be known by its present "Passi."

During the Spanish Era, Passi was called a "pueblo" administered by Capitan Municipal", then, it was called "Presidential" during the establishment of the American Colonial Government and administered by a Municipal President. However, when the Philippines became a Commonwealth, the town became known as municipality and designation of a chief executive became a municipal mayor. Passi then became progressive and had experience tremendous development over the period. From that time on and up to December 31, 1997, Passi is still considered a municipality. But because of its strategic location, Passi became a center for trade and commerce bringing more investment opportunities to the municipality. With high income, high population growth, and a big area of land, Passi has all the possibilities to become a component city. And now, after a hard-earned endeavor, Passi is now the first component city in the Island of Panay with the signing of R.A. 8469 effective January 30, 1998 by the President of the Philippines, Pres. Fidel V. Ramos.

Physical Characteristics

    a. Location and Accessibility

                Passi City is in the Heart of Panay and is geographically located South of Dumarao, Southeast of Bingawan, East of Calinog, Northeast of Dueñas, North of San Enrique, and Southeast of San Rafael. It could be reached with in 45 minutes from Iloilo City and 1 hour to Roxas City.

    b. Topography and Climate

                Rolling hills and narrow valley plains relatively dominate the topography of Passi. The flat land stretches alongside the Jalaur and Lamunan River. Passi like most of the Iloilo’s towns, belong to the third type climate region which has no pronounced maximum rain period and no distinct dry and wet season.

    c. Environment and Natural Resources

                Passi City occupies a total land area of 25,068 hectares. As of 2002, 86.7 percent of the total land area was classified as agricultural land and 15.2 percent as upland timberland. It is traversed by 5 major rivers namely: (1) Jalaur River; (2) Lamunan River; (3) Hin-ayan River; (4) Asisig River; and (5) Maliao River. It also has creeks and tributaries, which can be tapped for irrigation purposes. Different types and variety of mineral production can be found in the City of Passi. Limestone can be found at Barangays Iglalana, Igbang Grande, Talongonan, Agtambo, and Sarapan. Rock phosphate can be found at Barangays Igbang Grande and Quinagaringan, Pequeño. Sand and gravel can be commercially available at Barangays Gines Viejo and Agdahon.

    d. Political Subdivision

                The City of Passi is classified as a 3rd Class City in the 4th District of Iloilo with an annual income of Php258,811,752.25 as of December 31, 2006. It is composed of 38 rural barangays and 13 urban barangays.

3. Demographic and Social Characteristics

    a. Population

               The total population of Passi City as of May 1, 2000 reached 69,601. It grew at a rate of 3.40 percent in 1995 to 2000. The number of households in the city increased to 12,893, or by 14.4 percent from 1995 figure of 11,274. The average household size slightly increase to 5.4 persons from 1995 figure of 5.3 persons. A total of 12,893 persons occupy every one square kilometer of the land area in the city. This was higher than the national and regional population densities, which were 255 and 307, respectively. Based on the 1995 population projections, the 2007 population of the city is expected to reach at 70,174 and at 72,637 in 2010.

    b. Education

                For SY 2005-2006, the City of Passi has a total of 30 public elementary schools, 2 public primary schools, 4 public secondary schools in the rural areas, 1 urban national high school, 1 vocational school, 1 private and secondary school and 1 tertiary school. The performance of the city in terms of the education sector is described in the succeeding table of indicators:




1. Teacher Pupil Ratio

SY 2005-2006



2. Classroom Pupil Ratio

SY 2005-2006


3. Set Pupil Ratio

SY 2005-2006


4. Enrolment Rate

SY 2004-2005



5. Survival Rate

SY 2004-2005



6. Retention Rate

SY 2004-2005



7. Drop-out Rate

SY 2004-2005



8. Completion Rate

SY 2004-2005



9. Graduation Rate

SY 2004-2005



    c. Vital, Health and Nutrition

                In the City of Passi, 19 babies were born for every 1,000 population or a total or 1,323 babies in 2004. Nineteen (19) babies for every 1,000 live births died of a disease before the age of one-year. Seventy-six (76) women of Passi City died for every 1,000 live births due to causes associated with pregnancy immediately before and after delivery. The City has the Don Valerio Palmares Sr. Memorial District Hospital (DVSMDH) and 1 City Health Office and 16 Barangay Health Stations. The hospital is a 25-bed capacity facility with complete surgical and obstetrical equipment and an X-ray laboratory, which also served the municipalities of Iloilo such as the San Enrique, San Rafael, Dueñas and part of Dumarao, Capiz.

    d. Labor Force

The Labor Force Participation Rate for the city was estimated at 56.53 percent in 2006. This is the proportion of the total number of persons in the labor force to the total household population 15 years old and over.

    e. Energy and Water Resources

                Passi City is currently served by the Iloilo Electric Cooperative (ILECO) II. According to ILECO II, almost all-51 barangays are already energized. One of the priorities of the city government towards progress is the electrification program to cope the needs of the Passinhon on the unstable power supply. Presently, ILECO II has constructed a 5-MVA Sub-station donated by the city government that will serve and accommodate the power needs of industrial and commercial investors.In terms of water supply, 98.69 percent of household in the city had access to potable water. Of the total 13,328 households, 84.74 percent had access to Level I type of water supply, 3.38 percent to Level II and 10.57percent to Level III. As of 2006, the barangays of Agdayao and Guinagaringan Grande has level III type water supply and the barangays of Jaguimitan and Bagacay has level II type of water system. The water needs of the Poblacion is served by the City of Passi, which get its supply from the six deep wells and two springs at Barangay Sablogon, Bacuranan and Man-it. Potable water resources can also be tapped from natural springs or from ground water, which is bountiful in the area especially in the barangays of Igbang Grande, Bayan, Sarapan, Sablogon, and Jaguimitan.

    f. Peace and Order

                The peace and order situation in the city is generally peaceful and normal. Criminality and illegal activities continue to undermine the moral fiber of society and pose a threat to peace, order and stability of the city while insurgency waned and dissident terrorist remains evasive and non-confrontational. The Passi City police force is equipped with one Elf-patrol Jeep; one Dalica Back-up Van; and one patrol car. It is also equipped with 3 transceivers. It has also its police sub-station conspicuously placed at the poblacion for easy access to everyone who is in need of police assistance and information.

4. Economic Characteristics

  • Agriculture

        Crop Production.
    The major agricultural products are palay, sugarcane, corn, coffee and pineapple. Other products include vegetables, root crops, cutflowers, fruit trees and bamboos. The total land area devoted to palay production is 9,607.46 hectares (ha), of which 2,406.60 ha are irrigated, 7,060.86 are rainfed and 140 ha are upland. Crop production represents 45.05 percent of the total land area. With an average of 2.3 MT per ha, corn embraces the total 1,202 ha which produces 3,396.24 MT. This represent 5.63 percent of the total agricultural land devoted to crop productions. Area planted for sugarcanes is estimated at 3,387 ha with an average production of 65 tons per ha. The total land area suited for pineapple is 300 ha. It has an average annual production of 12,000MT.This represents 2.77 percent of total land devoted to crop production. Coffee productions are situated at the mountainous and rocky areas of the city. The variety used is the native robusta. The plant population is estimated at 2,000-5,000 plants per ha. Vegetables thrive well in the locality of Passi City which covers 45 ha and 30 ha of leafy and fruity vegetables, respectively.

        Livestock Production.
    Residents of Passi City are also engaged into backyard livestock production such as hog raising, poultry, carabao, cattle and goats. In 2006, there were 5,855 heads of carabao, 1,105 heads of cattle, 4,596 heads of goats, 14,805 heads of hogs and 42,585 of poultry production. Backyard raising is the secondary source of income for most farmers especially after their second harvest.

        Trade and Industry.
    Commercial activities found in the city are generally centered on Sari-sari (retail) store operation, eateries, bakeries, banking and financing, hardware, agriculture inputs, grains and poultry supply, and general merchandizing, which have been acted as controlling most, if not all of the business activities in the locality. More investments have been provided to cater growing needs in the locality and other neighboring towns. Businesses like Jollibee, Mercury Drug Store, Kodak, and Konika developing centers, various telecommunication facilities, banking institutions, and Central Azucarera de San Antonio (CASA), are just some businesses that promote commerce and job opportunities in Passi City. Additional facilities and other support services are provided like roads, power, water, health, and sanitation, drainage system, solid waste management and environmental protection.

        Telecommunication Services.
    Numerous communication facilities had been installed at Passi City since its establishment as a component city. These include the Bureau of Post, Bureau of Telecommunications (BUTEL), Panay Telephone, Co (PANTELCO), PLDT, Microwave Link, Smart, Globe, Sun Cellular, RCPI-Bayantel, LBC Express, LIBAP Express, Fastpak Global Express, and Milky Way Cable Vision, Inc.Radio communication equipment can be found in the 51 barangays of the city, which serve as the medium of the communications in the barangays especially in cases of emergency.

    As of 2004, the city had a total of 692 government personnel of which 85.0 percent or 591 were career personnel. In terms of revenue collection, the city improved its performance by 26.0 percent to Php12,689,668.14 in 2005 from 2004 collection of Php10,060,792.02. On fire code fees, the city increased it collection to Php307,293.20 in 2005 over its 2004 collection of Php109,506.72 or a significant increase of 181 percent.

    Tourist Attraction:
        The Pintados de Pasi.
    Tradition is witnessed in one of the biggest cultural celebrations observed in Panay, which is Pintados de Pasi'. This is a very unrivaled and remarkable event that is rooted in the very hearts of the citizens of Passi. Pintados retraces the legend and history of Passi - the bonding of kindred spirits, the intermingling of the Aetas, Chinese, Malays, Muslim, Hindus, Spaniards, Japanese and the Americans. The first batch of Spaniards that reached the island gave a different name to it. They called it "Isla de Pintados" after seeing tattooed men whom they called pintados or "painted people". The art of tattooing was practiced all throughout the island. The chronicler Miguel de Loarca, in his accounts in Historia Pre-Hispania de filipinas sobre la isla de panay, described the pintado practice. The men tattoo their entire bodies with beautiful figures using small pieces of iron dipped in ink. This ink incorporates itself into the blood and the marks are indelible. Culturally, the inhabitants of Panay used tattoos to exhibit their record in battles. The more tattoo marks a man had on his body, the higher his status as a warrior. The elegance of the pintado practice has raised tattooing into the level of art. They do them with such order, symmetry and coordination that they elicit admiration from those who see them. While the men put tattoo all over their body, it was a rule in the old Panay society that the women only wear tattoos on one side of their arms. According to one account, while a group of Spaniards who had settled in Calinog went downstream to the Jaluar river and anchored in a place called Ansig, they saw tattooed women who were winnowing pounded palay. One of them asked her what the name of the place is. The woman, who did not understand Spanish, thought that the man was asking what she was doing and replied "naga-pangpasi" which means picking out unhusked rice from pounded palay. From then on, the Spaniards called the place "Pasi" which later evolved into "Passi." As the Spaniards began to christianize the inhabitants of Panay, the friars believed that tattooing was a pagan practice and forced the natives to abandon the art, thus resulting to the disappearance of the pintado culture. However, the practice did not escape the eyes of historians who recorded it with respect and veneration that this form of art deserve. It was a practice ought not only to be preserved but also to be revived in some other ways to highlight the fact that during the pre-Spanish era, an advanced civilization of artistic people had already flourished in this part of the archipelago. The ancestors contributed much to the final shaping of the unique character of Passinhon, which is always ready to face the new challenges and the festival. It is in this context that the City of Passi embarks on this project to showcase and revive one of Panay's rich cultural legacies. The celebration, not only of the foundation of Passi City but also of the return of the pintado culture is made colorful every year. Headed by Passi's First Lady Jinky Diaz-Palmares, the festival includes the search for Bb. Pintados de Pasi, Karosa Parada, Carabao Painting Contest, Pintados, Drum and Lyre Competition, snake dancing activity called Binayle sa Kalye and Hirinugyaw sa Pintados, which encapsulates the culture essence in one glorious moment of interpretative dance, sign languages and body movements as proud testimony of heritage and tradition.

    Investment Potentials
    Passi City had numerous areas for possible investment, some are the following:

  • Irrigation System Potable Water Supply; and Hydro Electric Power System;

  • Inland Resort Development;

  • Agri-Industrial Projects; and

  • Industrial Tree Plantation

  • Sources:

    2006 Socio-Economic Profile, Passi City

    2006 Regional Socio-Economic Trends


    The NSCB RD6 Office
    is  at  Luna St. La Paz, Iloilo City, 5000 Philippines
    Tel/Fax  No. (033)-320-0513
    URL: http://www.nscb.gov.ph/ru6

    Email: nscb6@yahoo.com

    Updated 25 April 2011
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