Friday, 13 July 2012

Iloilo, Philippines

Iloilo is a province of the Philippines located in the Western Visayas region. Iloilo occupies the southeast portion of Panay Island and is bordered by Antique Province to the west and Capiz Province and the Jintotolo Channel to the north. Just off Iloilo's southeast coast is Guimaras Province, once part of Iloilo Province but now a province in its own right. Across the Panay Gulf and Guimaras Strait is Negros Occidental. Iloilo's capital is Iloilo City though the city itself is independent and not governed by the provincial government of Iloilo.

Lowry mentions Iloilo in his short stories 'Tramps' and 'Goya The Obscure' and later in Ultramarine; "……his tattooed arms (where had they been tattooed, ….Iloilo?)" (Pg. 26).

There is no documentary evidence to suggest that Lowry visited Iloilo as part of his 1927 voyage to the Far East. It would appear that Lowry's mention of  Iloilo is perhaps part of a youthful obsession with the "exotic East" which, manifested itself in the composing of the song 'I've Said Goodbye to Shanghai' with his Cambridge musical partner Ronald Hill. The reference to the Iloilo may have been influenced by Lowry's reading of Richard Eberhart's poem A Bravery of Earth published in 1930. Eberhart's poem reflected his experiences at Cambridge University and his time as a ship's hand in the Far East. In a letter Lowry wrote to John Davenport dated 27th October 1930; "The third - (Richard Ghormley Ebehart!), unamazed in meditation looked up from Persia - more likely sailing down the coast by Iloilo, Zamboanga, Sabang, anywhere, Eberhart Icarus at this time". (Collected Letters Vol 1 Pg. 73-74). 

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