Unlike other islands in the Visayas, I hadn’t explored Panay Island at that time, admittedly a huge lack in my education and experience as a travel blogger!
I loved Iloilo (and Panay) so much that after the fam trip with Injap, I booked another trip (this time, all expenses mine) to explore the city and the province more.
I love visiting churches whenever I travel, whether in the Philippines or outside.
It’s not that I’m Catholic; I just love seeing beautiful architecture. And all over the world, some of the most beautiful buildings I’d seen are churches.
I’ve been to the impressive St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, for example, and the stunning Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. I’ve been inside the Church of Our Lady in Dresden, Germany, which had been completely reduced to rubble during World War II and rebuilt from scratch.
Someday I’m going to write about the most beautiful churches I’d seen in my travels, but in the meantime, I’m going to tell you about those we visited in Iloilo. Indeed, I can honestly say that some of them can definitely hold a candle to the other churches I’d seen in other countries!
Miag-ao Church, located approximately 35 kilometers west of Iloilo City, is one of the most unforgettable churches I’ve seen in the Philippines. It is made from limestone and local corals quarried from the sea, giving it its natural, yellowish color.
The church and its watchtowers were built in in 1787 to protect the town and its people against attacks by the Moros. The church has thick walls and, supposedly, secret passages (no, we didn’t look for them!). It is because of this defensive purpose that it is also referred to as the Miag-ao Fortress Church.
What I loved about this church is the intricate motifs on its facade, including the image of a saint carrying Jesus while holding on to a coconut tree. St. Thomas of Villanueva, its patron saint, is at the center.
Miag-ao Church was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.
Also known as the National Shrine of Our Lady of Candles, Jaro Cathedral is the first and the only cathedral located in the district of Jaro in Iloilo City. It is one of the oldest churches in the country, and considered as the second National Shrine in the Visayas after the Basilica del Santo Niño in Cebu.
What makes Jaro Cathedral out of the ordinary is the location of its bell tower. Normally, bell towers are built next to their churches. Jaro Cathedral’s, on the other hand, is across the street!
The original cathedral (built in 1864) was actually beside the bell tower; however, it was destroyed by an earthquake. When the church was rebuilt, it was placed across the street to its present location.
Jaro Cathedral was proclaimed a historical landmark by the National Historical Institute in 1976.
St. Anne’s Molo Church
St. Anne’s Molo Church is located in what used to be the small town of Molo before it became part of Iloilo City in 1937. Pedro Calungsod, a Filipino martyr canonized by Pope Benedict in 2012, was said to be from this area.
St. Anne, built in 1831, is also called the Feminist Church or the Women’s Church of Iloilo because of its all-female saints put along the main aisle of the church. It was declared a national landmark by the National Historical Institute in 1992.
Tigbauan Church is located in the town of one of Iloilo’s treasure trove, called Pueblo de Tigbauan in 1575. A local reddish coral and limestone from nearby Igbaras town were used in its construction.
The church survived the earthquake of July 13, 1787; however, it was during the Lady CayCay earthquake in 1948 that left the church only with the bell tower, a few pillars from the convent, and the facade.
What makes Tigbauan Church unique is the huge number of mosaics inside it, which includes the Stations of the Way of the Cross. When you go inside, look for the mosaics of the Our Lady of Fatima and the scene of Adam and Eve being banished from the Garden of Eden.
This 400-year old church is located in the greenest town in Iloilo – Guimbal. It features a vintage belfry that is 4 stories high which also served as a watchtower during the Spanish occupation.
Guimbal Church is made up of yellow adobe and coral stones. It was recently rehabilitated to its original structure after it was damaged in the Second World War and the 1948 earthquake.
There are many other churches in Iloilo that deserve to be mentioned here. Someday, I’ll go back there again to fully appreciate all the province has to offer.
If you’re going to Iloilo soon, look for hotels in Iloilo here.
Disclaimer: While the campaign was sponsored Injap Tower Hotel, all opinions are mine. The management of Injap didn’t have a say in any of my write-ups about Iloilo.