Iloilo: Visiting The Historical & Religious Landmarks
“La Muy Noble Ciudad“, “The Most Noble City”, a title dubbed by the Queen of Spain to the epicenter of trade, commerce, and Spanish conquest in Western Visayas, Iloilo City. Influence of the glorious colonist in Iloilo’s rich history are portrayed in bold and beautiful churches not only in the bustling city but all over the entire province. Here are few of the many historical & religious landmarks of Iloilo
1. San Joaquin Church and Camposanto de San Joaquin (San Joaquin).
Nestled on the borders of Iloilo and Antique is the southernmost town of San Joaquin where a unique 19th-century church made from limestone and coral stone still stood. A relief depicting the “Battle of Tetuan” sculpted on the San Joaquin Church‘s massive pediment (triangular gable forming the end of the roof slope over a portico) gives its distinct look. However, restorations were underway so the bamboo scaffolding hinders the intricate sculpture from sight.
San Joaquin Church under construction (2013)
2. Camposanto de San Joaquin (San Joaquin)
While those who walk the earth practice their belief in San Joaquin Church, the remains of the deceased lay beneath the holy grounds of Camposanto de San Joaquin. A baroque-inspired mortuary chapel, stood elevated overlooking the scenic Panay Gulf. San Joaquin’s cemetery is conveniently located along the highway so if you have time, this place is an interesting place to visit.
Entrance to Camposanto de San Joaquin.
2. Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva (Miag-ao)
Completing my quest to see the four Philippine churches inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage List was no other than Miag-ao‘s ultimately captivating Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva. The chapel-turned-fortress was rebuilt on a more secured location with thicker walls to fend off further attacks by Moro Pirates. An elaborate relief on the pediment of this historical edifice just adds up to its grandeur (first photo). Miag-ao Church is majestic, it’s elegant, it’s massive, and it was a fulfillment to see it with my own eyes.
3. St. Anne Parish (Molo District, Iloilo City)
If Miag-ao Church exudes strength and militaristic ideas, the Gothic-Rennaisance inspired church of St. Anne Parish in Iloilo City’s Molo Distict manifests feminism. Sixteen images of women saints can be found inside the church while the patron Saint Anne is on the retablo. Molo Church, as it is commonly known, has faced the wars, fires, and earthquakes but today, it stands proud as one of the historic edifices of Iloilo City.
4. Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary of Jaro District, Iloilo City.
A city within a city, a moniker coined to the bustling district of Jaro where another religious landmark can be found. The Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, or Jaro Cathedral features a Romanesque-Revival architecture, towering with two spires and a dome. Dual staircases on the facade lead to a balcony where a shrine of Our Lady of the Candles is placed. Another distinct characteristic of Jaro Cathedral, and my personal favorite, is the gigantic belfry standing separately from the church similar to the churches of Paoay, Bacarra, and Laoag of Ilocos Norte, and Santa Maria of Ilocos Sur.
Collectively, I spent only one day traversing the coastline from the southernmost San Joaquin, to the heart of Iloilo, Iloilo City to visit these centuries-old churches. Travelers, pilgrims, architecture enthusiasts and history buffs would definitely need more time if one plans to visit each. Wandering from town to town, photographing churches, and important places would be my top priority on my next visit, and I will be facing a long list of historical and religious landmarks of Iloilo province.
Belfry of Jaro Cathedral at dusk.
Some fast facts that may help you on the trip:
1. If you’re looking where to find other churches in Iloilo, check out the towns of Cabatuan, Passi City, Duenas, Alimodian, and Guimbal.
2. Directions: I came from Anini-y, Antique, but I think directions from Iloilo City to these churches would be more handy.
3. From Iloilo City, take any bus or vans bound for San Jose de Buenavista in Antique, or Caticlan in Aklan, and ask the driver to drop you off at San Joaquin. The church is walking distance from the highway, while you could take a tricycle to the cemetery.
4. Miag-ao can be reached by jeepney from Mohon Terminal in Molo or from Iloilo Terminal Market. The jeepney will stop at the church. It’s massive, you wouldn’t miss. Fare ranges from P30-P40 per ride.
5. Molo Church is very accessible if you’re in Iloilo City. Jeepneys at the “stoplight / flyover” intersection, along General Luna St., Valeria St., or Ledesma St. in Iloilo City Proper, with a “Molo” or “Villa Arevalo” signage, and it will pass by Molo Church, and plaza.
6. Jaro can be reached by riding jeepneys with “Jaro” signage. It will pass by the Cathedral or Plaza.
7. Commuting in Iloilo City might seem complex at first but the jeepneys actually goes to and from their route like a circuit, something like that. You’ll get the hang of it eventually. It’s a good alternative if you’re trying to save money.
8. Or, you could use your feet. I tried to walk from Jaro to Iloilo Provincial Capitol, to my hotel, Que Bun Pension House. It’s a good way to get an up close view of the city.
9. This is the fifth post on my two-week long backpacking journey in Panay Island and Guimaras. Next stop would still be Iloilo City in search of some good grubs. Read on to Iloilo: A Non-Food Adventurer’s Food Adventure Guide in Iloilo City
10. More Iloilo destinations.
11. Please Like Biyaherong Barat on Facebook.
12. Follow @BiyaherongBarat on Twitter.
13. Happy travels and be safe.