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. That’s San Jose Church at Plaza Libertad at the heart of Iloilo City.  The devotion to the Sto. Nino which gave birth to the Dinagyang started in this Catholic…

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Article by Joy Rosal-Sumagaysay, first published in 1996 in the Souvenir Program of the Nuestra Sra. de la Candelaria.

Photo courtesy of Jun Rojas 

The belfry, campanario, or belltower is a given fixture of every Catholic church. It houses the bells, which basically toll the hours, call the people to mass, and announce important events.

During the Spanish times, the belfry also served as watchtower against invaders. Such was the case of the Jaro belfry built around 1744. Made of bricks and limestone blocks, it was a three story tower 29 meters high. Read More The Jaro Belfry — an Iloilo landmark

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This is the awesome chapel (capilla) window at Janiuay cemetery. The design is gothic-inspired as seen in its lancet arch. Although the Janiuay cemetery is only a shadow of its former self, this intricate stone tracery (artisans were “imported” from Manila) gives us an idea of how elaborate it must have been to be declared as the most beautiful in the Philippines during its time. Read More Capilla window of Janiuay cemetery

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Many interesting details can be found in Pototan cemetery. The stone cross marker for instance is still very much intact. That’s the cemetery caretaker or portero in front of the towering solid cross back in 1995. If Janiuay’s stone cross required 52 carabaos to haul it, I wonder how many this one took.

The cross figures strongly in the celebration of Pyesta Minatay or All Saints’ Day. This is where people light candles to remember their dead in far away places or those whose burial places no longer exist inside the cemetery. Read More POTOTAN CEMETERY

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Janiuay cemetery’s grand stone steps

(Janiuay cemetery’s grand stone staircase. Photo courtesy of Ayala Museum)

Inaugurated in 1884, Janiuay (pronounced as ha-nee-wai) cemetery was hailed as the most artistic cemetery in the Philippines! The town’s parish priest, Augustinian friar Fernando Llorente spearheaded the ambitious project. (Prior to this assignment, he was head of Dingle, a town where he also had a stone cemetery constructed. Read More JANIUAY CEMETERY

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staba3.jpgSta. Barbara no longer has a funerary chapel or capilla, unlike the other cemeteries I’ve featured. What is special about Sta. Barbara though is the stone tablet found just above its arched entrance of bricks and iron grills. Because of its cute size, many people, Sta. Barbaranhons included, have failed to notice it. Of the cemetery inscriptions I’ve discovered, Sta. Barbara’s really made me smile. Read More STA. BARBARA CEMETERY

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(Cabatuan cemetery capilla, 1995. Photo by JRSumagaysay)

The cemetery of Cabatuan can boast of its nearly perfect square lay-out with a vast area of 28, 930 sq.m. The newspaper El Eco de Panay covered its grand inauguration on February 4, 1894. It described Cabatuan cemetery as Roman in style with robust pilasters topped by pear-shaped ornaments and iron grills as enclosure. At the center majestically stands the capilla with three entrance archways and eight urns on the cornice. A dome (media naranja) crowned this capilla. Read More CABATUAN CEMETERY

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Among the eight artistically significant colonial cemeteries in Iloilo, I deduced that Oton cemetery is the oldest, probably built in the early or mid-19th cetury. From the exterior, it does not appear to have been from the Spanish period. The obvious proof of its colonial origin is found some 30 meters from the entrance. It is a circular stone capilla with three entrance openings above which are identical decorations consisting of skull-and-crossbones and narrow brick urns half-embedded onto the stone. Read More OTON CEMETERY

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