Impressive: Cabatuan and Sta. Barbara churches

The impressive Cabatuan Church

theLOOP north negros route This is the 13th installment of the Luzon – Visayas – Luzon Loop series. Click the image on the right to check out the rest of the posts.

In the Visayas, Iloilo is one of the provinces with many colonial era churches. What better way to spend a few hours before my trip to Kalibo that afternoon than with visiting two of these?

The first time I saw a photo of the church of Cabatuan and I was immediately drawn to it. Its impressive and imposing. An architectural achievement. Its squat but massive twin belfries flanks a simple facade built along neo-classic lines. Finished in 1866, it is one of the biggest churches in Panay.

Cabatuan Cemetery entrance

About a kilometer from the town’s center, just along the road is another architectural gem: the Cabatuan cemetery. It is one of the few remaining camposanto (cemetery) heritage structures in the country that is still intact. Blessed in 1894, it is known for its octagonal chapel with what is considered the most intricate skull and crossbones carving in the country. Check my post for a more detailed treatment.

The beautiful Sta. Barbara Church

The neighboring town of Sta. Barbara also hosts another beautiful colonial era church in Iloilo. Not as massive as that in Cabatuan but equally beautiful with its ornate facade. Construction took 30 years and it was finally finished in 1878.

The mudejar style of the kumbento of Sta. Barbara

What really impressed me about this church is its kumbento. While from the street, it looks like the usual old stone house, inside, especially when one is in the inner courtyard, the intricate designs found at the wooden arches that decorate it is just impressive.

A frieze commemorating the historic Cry of Sta. Barbara

Sta. Barbara was the seat of the revolutionary government against Spain in Panay and thus, was one of the historic places in Iloilo. Behind the church is a frieze commemorating this event.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.


  1. dodong flores
    April 11, 2008 @ 10:07

    Impressive indeed! You’re blessed to have visited there with blue skies and cotton-white clouds…

    I think it was overcast when I took photos of this churches…

  2. cedsaid
    April 11, 2008 @ 11:04

    The details are amazingly intact! Great takes as always.

  3. donG hO
    April 11, 2008 @ 17:04

    i only saw the Molo church when i went to Iloilo and maybe some other churches but Molo was close to where we stayed.

    nice churches.

  4. JP
    April 12, 2008 @ 15:32

    im wowed! really a pro photog!
    re “this is one place that i would want to go back again. bai, di ba lisud magpicture picture especially kung DSLR?”, thats why manguyog ka og local didto. someone who knows the place and language of the place can give you comfort.

  5. iloilo onfoot
    April 13, 2008 @ 1:03

    beautiful photos… can’t wait for your Cabatuan Church feature on simbahan. Thanks for visiting iloilo, I hope we’ll see you again sometime.

  6. Ferdz
    April 13, 2008 @ 9:52

    I really like how you incorporate those human elements into your compositions. Brings out the life in them.

    We never got as far as Sta Barbara when we were in Iloilo. Would have been interesting to see that.

  7. The Islander
    April 14, 2008 @ 14:35

    sa cagayan valley ang daming antiquated churches.

  8. estan
    April 14, 2008 @ 18:35

    gian, i’ll have to do a more detailed photo documentation of Cabatuan church before I release a post about it in

  9. Stephen
    April 30, 2008 @ 9:33

    The big church is so cool. how large is it anyway?

  10. Some Negros and Iloilo old churches » langyaw
    June 14, 2008 @ 13:59

    […] massive and imposing that when I first saw it, I can’t help but see it as a little version of Cabatuan in Iloilo. Its facade is simple and without the rich embellishments of other […]

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