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Palay: From the paddy to the plate
(Center for West Visayan Studies, 1994)
Palay or rice (Oryza sativa) has been the staple food crop of the Philippines for centuries. As far as historical records show, Iloilo has been one of the leading provinces in the production of palay. When the Spaniards first came to the Philippines in the 16th century, they noted that Panay, particularly Iloilo, was the granary of the archipelago. However, after the port of Iloilo was opened to world commerce in 1855, sugar became the chief export crop of West Visayas, and some areas of riceland in Iloilo were converted to sugarland. The census of 1903 revealed that Iloilo ranked only No. 9 as a rice-producing province. But Iloilo was not to be outdone for long; in 1970, it gained the No. 1 place and has maintained that position up to the present. Since this conference focuses on the history and culture of West Visayas from 1900 to the present, we shall dwell on the production and preparation of rice from the paddy to the plate for the past 90 years among the people in the lowlands of Iloilo....