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.
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 simbahan.net post for a more detailed treatment.
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.
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.
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.