Creepy? 5 cemeteries in Negros and Iloilo

Categories The Loop


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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Stan 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).

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. Open for work, collaborations and inquiries for site features.

19 thoughts on “Creepy? 5 cemeteries in Negros and Iloilo

  1. 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. 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. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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)

    http://oldmanilawalks.blogspot.com/2002/01/october-26-2005-cemetery-musings-ok-so.html#comments
    http://travel.webshots.com/album/163376852zvrqMH

  6. 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.

  7. 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

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

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

    Gonli, thanx.

    donardsteve, old cemeteries really have intriguing architecture.

  10. 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

  11. 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.

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