Creepy? 5 cemeteries in Negros and Iloilo

The magnificent cemetery of San Joaquin, Iloilo

The Cuyo Loop In October of 2006, I visited the remote islands of Cuyo and Culion in Palawan for a photography assignment and passed Negros and Iloilo in transit. This is my account of that journey.

This is the 5th of a series. It is not only old churches that I am fascinated with but I find Spanish colonial era cemeteries, and to some extent, those during pre-war period with their wonderful architecture very interesting. When I get to places, after asking about the churches, I follow it up with: “Is the cemetery here old?”

In the Visayas, and possibly in the entire country, Iloilo has the best samples of colonial era, as well as pre-war cemeteries. Just think of the still intact chapels, the perimeter fence with their wrought iron railings and niches. The best example, perhaps that I have visited can be found in San Joaquin, Iloilo (photo above). It features a grand stairway leading to an equally elaborate and beautiful chapel at the center, all made from cut coral stones.

The octagonal cemetery chapel of Miag-ao, Iloilo.

Not many know it but after visiting the fortress church in this municipality, tourists usually miss this beautiful cemetery with its octagonal chapel at the center. The architecture is not as elaborate as that in San Joaquin but just simple. Its style is reminiscent of the Cabatuan cemetery chapel with its form and three portals but topped with three round openings and a dome.

Three generations: cemetery entrance arch – Spanish colonial period; elaborate pre-war old rich tomb, background; and modern niche, foreground. This is located in Valladolid, Negros Occidental.

Negros Occidental has its share of these beatiful cemteries but not as well preserved as that of Iloilo. Most are remnants or in some municipalities, only the original perimeter fence or portions of it can still be found. In Valladolid, Negros Occidental, only the entrance arch and a crumbling fence are present. But what I do like about this place is that you can readily see the different periods.

A pre-war tomb with its beautiful architecture in Victorias, Negros Occidental.

Victorias in Negros Occidental doesn’t have traces of spanish colonial era cemetery. However, inside its cramped catholic cemetery are fine examples of art deco as well as pre-war tomb architecture.

Tomb of a fallen soldier during World War II, Bago City, Negros Occidental.

On a visit to the Bago City catholic cemetery, only parts of the perimeter fence, entrance arch and niches can be found that are from the colonial period. However, there are several pre-war tombs that can be found. Interestingly, while roaming around, I found one niche of a fallen soldier during World War II.

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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. lawstude
    June 16, 2008 @ 15:55

    Two of my friends studied architecture and they said that it is a must for them during their schooldays to visit cemetary to study architecture. it is in there where some of the best structures are located. and your photos just prove it.

  2. nina
    June 16, 2008 @ 17:00

    I’ve had this obsession about taking photos in cemeteries since last year. Unfortunately, it still hasn’t come into fruition. But those are really beautiful cemeteries.

  3. donG hO
    June 17, 2008 @ 1:12

    i like the valladolid cemetery. my grandfather lies in Molo cemetery.

  4. Gibb
    June 17, 2008 @ 6:27

    the San Joaquin cemetery is the best one i’ve seen.

  5. estan
    June 17, 2008 @ 14:43

    dong ho, is the Molo cemetery old, with remnants of Spanish colonial era parts?

  6. donG hO
    June 17, 2008 @ 22:50

    meron konti. kasi nung dati may malaking paniki sa may arc nito. kaya lang hindi ko alam kung nandun pa rin yon. tagal na kasi nung last kong pagpunta ng iloilo.

  7. dimaks
    June 18, 2008 @ 6:19

    great photos!

  8. Ferdz
    June 24, 2008 @ 12:04

    I actually wanted to visit that San Joaquin Cemetery when we were in Iloilo. Sayang nga lang we were short of time. Interesting din ang cemeteries sa akin. They hold quite a unique architectural display din.

  9. manilastreetwalker
    September 20, 2008 @ 21:57

    Very interesting post and the photos were wonderful. I too have an equally morbid fascination with cemeteries because of the wealth of architectural details. Havent been to those in Ilolo but have explored Manila’s famous ones: the North, Chinese and Laloma.

    Here are some shots to when your appetite ;o)

  10. estan
    September 25, 2008 @ 19:51

    manilastreetwalker, aka Ivan Man-Dy?

    thanx for visiting. i also love cemeteries, especially the old ones. I have been to La Loma but I would want to explore it with one of your walks.

  11. End of the Cuyo Loop | langyaw
    October 2, 2008 @ 11:09

    […] made a detour but all my photos were unfortunately lost. Visited several colonial era churches and cemeteries in Negros Occidental and Iloilo and was awestruck at seeing the brick wonder of Cabatuan church. […]

  12. Jean A. Mata
    October 19, 2008 @ 7:21

    I started to be fascinated with cemeteries when I took a history course at American University, here in Washington DC, USA. It’s a week course where I was able to visit gravesites of US presidents and civil war soldiers. Cemeteries are full of history. Given a chance I will visit cemeteries in the Philippines when I go home.
    Jean Mata
    DC USA

  13. gonli
    October 24, 2008 @ 6:28

    Although creepy, the San Joaquin shows that even in death we can go in style. Beautiful shots. More to come I hope!

  14. Death in Stone: Relieves of old cemeteries in Cebu | langyaw
    October 25, 2008 @ 23:15

    […] doesn’t have the impressive colonial era cemeteries of Iloilo. There’s no ornate polygonal cemetery chapels like that of San Joaquin, Cabatuan and Janiuay. […]

  15. donardsteve
    November 18, 2008 @ 13:48

    Wow, this designs are great. Cemeteries are indeed the undying symbols of architecture.

  16. estan
    November 27, 2008 @ 12:18

    Jean, you should, especially the cemeteries of La Loma in Metro Manila.

    Gonli, thanx.

    donardsteve, old cemeteries really have intriguing architecture.

  17. deepdiver21
    October 23, 2015 @ 11:24

    Tobias Fornier in Antique has a unique inscription, “kami karon, kamo dason” translated as it’s now our time, yours is next. i have a picture of it in Panoramio

  18. john dave
    March 29, 2016 @ 13:57

    The Binalbagan Catholic Cemetery has some Spanish-era tombs, fallen American soldier markers, a marker of a Spanish Parish Priest, and most interestingly, most of its political leaders from the 1800’s up to pre-war era are buried there. Its the oldest town in NIR.

  19. estan
    March 29, 2016 @ 16:28

    Thanx John Dave. Will check that out when I can.

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