The San Joaquin Cemetery (1892), one of a number built in Iloilo province during the 19th century, is located along the highway leading to the town. Built on a low rise, the cemetery’s square perimeter is demarcated by a wrought iron fence and shored by a wall of carved stone, embellished with niches and saints. A flight of 20 steps leads up to the cemetery compound. The octagonal structure at the compound’s center is a mortuary chapel, where it was customary to bless the dead. The chapel is decorated with Classical motifs. A pointed dome crowns the whole structure. (Panublion)
Sanson-Montinola House (Jaro)The more interesting house is the Sanson y Montinola Antillan house, a block away from Nelly’s. The house is reminiscent of the Gaston house in Silay, Negros Occidental. The similarities can be explained by the fact that most of the rich families of Iloilo, at one point, all transferred to Bacolod, instigated largely by the spirit of unionism that had workers clamoring for reforms. (NCCA)
Although the Cathedral is presently named after St. Elizabeth, the patroness of Jaro is Candelaria, whose feast is celebrated on 2 February. The first church and convento of Jaro was built at Alanga. Frs. Francisco de Santa Maria Oliva and Francisco Ramirez laid out new plans for the town and built the parochial buildings, however, they were destroyed when the Dutch attacked on 12 October 1614. Fr. Pedro del Castillo built a new and stronger church and convento (1639-44). The building were damaged by a typhoon around 1686. After a series of slave raids, the town, devastated by the attacks, was transferred to its present site between 1722-44. Fr. Juan Aguado built a church and convento which were damaged by an 1824 earthquake. Fr. José Alvarez restored the church, tower and convento from 1833-35, setting up a brick kiln on the church site for this purpose. Fr. Francisco Aguería drew up plans for a new church, gathered material, had bricks baked and lumber procured from Negros and Iloilo. In 1865, the Augustinians handed over the parish to become the episcopal see of Jaro, Bp. Cuartero implemented Fr. Aguería’s plan. The church was damaged by the earthquake of 1848; of the bell tower all but the first floor remained. Damaged by war, the church was repaired and renovated. The façade was renovated during the Papal visit of John Paul II in 1971, with the addition of a balcony above the main door.
Galende claims that only the remaining portion of the tower and the church plans can be attributed to the Augustinians. Early 20th century photographs show a squat church with a wide central nave and lateral aisles built lower than the nave. From a triangular pediment curved lines link the laterals with the main section of the façade. Pilasters decorate the façade, pairs of them flanking the arched portal. The church has a similar silouhette to Guimbal. The bell tower is separated from the church, in a manner reminiscent of Ilocos churches. The three story structure had a ribbed dome roof, its lower floor was quadrilateral decorated by a clustering of pilasters at the corners. The upper floors also quadrilaterals have truncated corners. Similar clustering of pilasters decorate these higher registers. Oculi, circular and arch windows pierce the stone and brick wall of the tower. Restored recently using reinforced concrete with a brick facing, the present tower departs from the older plan by being more slender and simplifying the ribbed dome. (Panublion)
A visita as early as 1719, Cabatuan became a parish 1732, under the advocacy San Nicolás. A church and convento was probably built at the foundation of the parish. But the present church traces to the efforts of Fr. Ramón Alquezar who was named prior in 1833. He remained in Cabatuan until 1865. Another author claims that he died on 22 September 1863, at any rate, the church was completed by Fr. Manuel Ruiz in 1866; restored and decorated by Fr. Manuel Gutierrez. Fr. Juan Porras built the convento in 1876.
Heritage Features: This capacious single nave church is a good example of Neoclassical architecture in its severest form. Except for rectangular carved plaques, the façade’s main decorations are twinned Tuscan pilasters alternating with plain walls pierced by fenestration’s or niches. The flanking bell towers are wide, squat and massive. This impression is reinforced by the dome covering the bell tower. (Panublion)
Janiuay to the neighboring town of Mina is a cemetery built on a slope. Described at the time it was finished as “the most artistic in the whole country” the builder of this cemetery was Fr. Fernando de Llorente who commenced work in 1874 and completed the whole project after nine years. The archbishop of Manila, Pedro Payo, blessed the cemetery.
Three stairways lead to the three gates of the cemetery, built on a high ground and shored up by a retaining wall. The wall has niches in which 16 six-foot stone santos were enshrined. The cemetery perimeter is surrounded by a brick and wrought iron fence and near this gate stood a Byzantine stone cross. The cross and some statues are missing. On the same axis as the main gate is an octagonal mortuary chapel, covered by a pointed dome roof. The roof has been replaced by nondescript pyramidal roof. Despite the obvious degradation of the chapel, the Gothic features that remain are still stunning–the windows pierced by delicate stone tracery, the spires rising at the eight points of the octagonal building. (Panublion)
Built of gray stone, the Cabatuan Cemetery was built by Fr. Juan Porras. The cemetery was blessed on 4 February 1894. Like Janiuay’s cemetery completed around the same time as Cabatuan’s; this cemetery is also built on a rise and approached through a flight of stairs. Its perimeter is surrounded by a fence of stone and wrought iron; the cemetery also has an octagonal mortuary chapel. The plan may be similar but the style is different. Here Classical and Romanesque elements dominate from the arch entrance of the main gate and its semicircular pediment, the use of arches for windows and door and even the arch shape repeated in the grille work. Baroque touches are evident in the rosettes decorating the gate and the mortuary chapel and the vase finials of the mortuary. Like Janiuay, Cabatuan has lost its dome shaped roof replaced by a flat cement roof. (Panublion)
Heritage Features: Built of coral stone quarried from Igbaras, the church is flanked by a three story bell tower to its right and the ruins of a building, probably the convento to its left. The bell tower, however, is now damaged and the upper most story, a construction in reinforced concrete. The two stories of the façade are uneven in height, the second being about one-half the dimension of the first. The first story is decorated with rosettes and divided vertically by engaged columns on tall plinths like Guimbal. Composite capitals crown the columns. A plaque above the arched portal displays the Augustinian seal flanked by cherubs. The second story is plain compared with the lower floor. The façade’s striking feature, however, is the disproportionately large pediment. When Fr. Santarén was still building the church news of the victory of Gen. Leopoldo O’Donnel over the Moroccan Crown Prince Muley Abbas reached Iloilo. The Spaniards recaptured Tetuan. Santarén’s low relief mural captures the excitement of victory where cavalry and infantry are tearing down Moorish defense, near palms and a minaret. The troops are composed in an ascending spiral with figures of horse and rider becomes smaller the higher they reach. Spaces between the figures are filled with vegetation. The title of the composition “Rendición de Tetuan” is carved at the base of this animated relief. (Panublion)
Plaza Libertad In front of the San Jose Church is a wooded plaza, improved during the 20th century with the addition of benches and Classical statuary. The Old World look of the plaza has been greatly degraded, but in its heyday, it was one of Iloilo’s charms.
Heritage Features: The church’s appeal lies less in ornamentation and more on the rational modulation of forms and spaces. Typically Renaissance in inspiration, the church façade is neatly divided into proportionate vertical modules, pierced by arch and round apertures. The twin bell towers flanking the façade uses composite capitals and has a balustrade running above the fourth floor. The church interior has an arcade of Corinthian columns supporting a faux barrel vault over the nave and groin vaults over the aisle. The main altar has some Gothic touches. A precious treasure of the church is an image of the Nuestra Señora del Rosario discovered by Diego Quiñones during the Dutch siege of Iloilo on 29 September 1614. The statue was brought by Frs. Jerónimo Alvarado and Juan de Morales to the fort, where a cofradía (confraternity) to the Virgin was established. Damaged by a fire which gutted the church ca. 1850, the image was restored in 1873 and 1907.
Location: Bounded by Sto. Rosario, Zamora and de la Rama Sts
Iloilo Customs Building Occupying a block along Muelle Loney is the Aduana or Customs Building built during the American colonial period. It is a copy of the Immigration building in Manila, whose characteristic is a tall tower that rises at the center of the building.
Heritage Features: The church is an amalgam of Gothic and Renaissance. The plan is fundamentally Renaissance, evident in the arcade of Corinthian columns in the interior, the use of semi-circular arches, and the disposition of space. The church’s height, however, and its narrow width points to affinity with the Gothic. This is further emphasized by the decorative elements, spires, lancets, tracery. The wooden varnished altar, said to have been built around 1930, carry the Gothic theme. On 16 columns supporting the roof are images of female saints, hence the church’s sobriquet as church of women.
In front of the church is plaza with a band stand, a typical plan of Western Visayas towns.
Location: Bounded by Jocson and San Marcos Sts.
Heritage Features: The flanking towers, massive, and of unequal height gives Miagao the shape of a fortress. However, the finely carved tassels, dangling like fringes from the second and third stories soften the military appearance of the construction. It is the ornamentation of the church that gives it distinction, this is especially true of the façade which designed like a retablo. Above the portal is a niche containing the patronal saint, Santo Tomás. From the niche runs horizontally a band of dentils and rosettes supporting a blind balustrade. The niche is linked to the first story by engaged columns supporting a plinth. These columns which flank the main arch portal are linked to two other columns by downward curved lines. Between the pair of columns are niches with saints. Rococo embellishments ornament the portal and the sides of the outer columns. The pediment is an altogether independent composition. The giant San Cristobal, who ferried people across the river is shown with the Christ child resting on his shoulder. The giant, dressed in breeches, supports himself with a coconut tree, rather than a staff as is traditional. Tropical plants like the papaya and others in vases are arranged in a symmetrical composition around the central figure. The pediment is pierced by oval windows seemingly out of place in the busy composition. All told the façade is a mixture of decorative styles–Classical, Baroque, Rococo–all linked by tropical fantasy in a design uniquely Philippine. For this synthesis and reinterpretation of foreign influences, Miagao church is called a World Heritage Site.
Miagao has a 19th century cemetery worth visiting. A watchtower is found along the shore.
Photos from Ivan Anthony S. Henares
Text from Panublion Heritage Site