Lazada Philippines

Monday, April 2, 2012

Via Crucis: The 14 Churches of Iloilo (Part One)

I had this fascination over the architectural design of churches as early as 10 years old. My aunt who's into Via Crucis asked me one time to join her on Via Crucis, and from then on, it's been my share of sacrifices during Holy Week, and its been a goal of mine to see more churches here in the country and abroad.

Upon learning that Iloilo nests a number of truly mystifying churches, I set foot on this very welcoming province last year. But my journey then wasn't enough to explore all of its gems, so this year, I visited the place again and devoted my whole trip in seeing these architectural gems.

I'm no pro when it comes to architectural designs, so if you find something wrong on this post, please correct me. ^_^

Arriving at Iloilo Airport on a cloudy Thursday morning wasn't part of the plan. I'm planning to see 6 or 7 churches that same day, so the positivism is all over me from our home in Tondo down here in Iloilo.

Btw, Iloilo Airport is like a small NAIA Terminal 3, and I love it!

Reaching my first destination for this Via Crucis trip has two options, but since I'm on a hurry, due to the coming dark clouds, I took the shuttle going to SM Iloilo.

First Destination - First Station - Parish of Santa Barbara

The time I got here, the rain started to pour. Luckily that time, the church is open so I was able to go inside it and had a good glimpse of it interior. Basing from the looks of it, the church has this Baroque Renaissance architectural design. Though, it has a little touch of neoclassicism, I can say that the combination of two made this church a must-visit here in Iloilo.

The time I got inside, I immediately felt the age of the whole place - something that interests me more. The church is still under renovation, as far as the scaffolding are concern, but everything still look steady and strong, so masses are still ongoing. Actually, that time too, a funeral mass was ongoing, and it was my first time to witness a Hiligaynon mass.

This church is just 5-7 minutes away from Iloilo Airport. You can take a shuttle or jeep from the airport to Santa Barbara jeep terminal, then from there, you can hire a tricycle that'll  take you to the church.

Second Destination - Second Station - Pavia Church

Some 15 minutes away from Santa Barbara lays this Italian-inspired church that was said to have a Byzantine-style of architecture. Even though, I find this church misplaced, because it is located along the main highway, its red bricks were the love. A stunner along the highway, if I may say. I'm honestly not expecting it to be that neat, but it was! And just like the Parish of Santa Barbara, the interior was also under renovation.

The saints' images inside the church are mostly wood carvings, so they complement well with the whole church style. The stained glass looks fascinating too when you're inside it, as well as the pillars that looks simple and matching.

Coming from Iloilo Airport or Santa Barbara, it'll be hard for you to miss this church. Local drivers were kind to drop you off right on the side of the church, so just enjoy the view while travelling. And oh, btw, Pavia is pronounced as Pa-vee-ya and NOT Pav-ya. :-)

Third Destination - Third Station - San Joaquin Church

I know it is not a good idea to travel from north to south of Iloilo, but since I have a hotel that's been waiting for me, I skipped the other churches along the way, checked-in first and decided to visit first those on the far south, hence, San Joaquin Church came as my third church on this journey.

I visited this church last year, during my first-ever Iloilo trip, and that time, the church was already closed, so I didn't had a chance to see its interior. Fortunate me, on this journey, a mass is about to start when I arrived. I have no plans of attending a whole mass, really, since this is really far from the city, but I still feel blessed that this time, I had a chance to see the whole of church's interior.Contrast to its elegantly designed exterior, this church's interior is very plain and simple. There's nothing too fancy about this National Cultural Treasure, but San Joaquin Church offers a stunning architectural design that depicts the story behind the Battle of Tetuan.

The church is actually a glistening yellow one because it is made of limestone and corals stones. If you plan to visit this place, make sure that you leave the city proper early, probably before lunch time because the travel time takes two to two-and-a-half hours. It is perfect to visit on a sunny day to see how it shines like the sun.

Fourth Destination - Fourth Station - Miag-ao Church

After appreciating the wonders of San Joaquin Church, I hailed a jeepney to take me back to Miag-ao Church, a UNESCO World Heritage. With its mixed architectural designs, no one can really say what period if depicts, something we usually say "Only in the Philippines."

It was my first time to visit this church, and far more than I expected, this church is indeed as lovely as it is in the pictures. The striking golden yellow that it shines when hit by the sunlight gave a lovelier and heart-warming feel to me. And with is really astonishing and captivating sculptures, which, again, are far more beautiful that those of San Joaquin Church, Miag-ao Church served as the greatest gem I've seen here in Iloilo.

The interior gives justice to its very elegant exterior. With more golden embellishment and stunning architectural setups, I fell in love with this church and made it my most loved church so far. Elegant is actually an understatement for Miag-ao Church because it is simply a heavenly piece.

Fifth Destination - Fifth Station - Guimbal Church 

After an hour our falling in love with Miag-ao Church, I then hailed a jeepney again to take me to my next destination. It wasn't as popular as Miag-ao Church, but Guimbal Church holds a personal appeal to tourists like me.

Being one of the oldest church here in the country, Guimbal residence takes pride of this century old church for it serves as the witness to the triumphs of the town. Locating this church isn't really that hard, just tell the driver to drop you off at the Guimbal Plaza, and you could easily spot this church.

This church is another "yellow" church. It is made of  adobe stones called "igang" and some coral stones, which are said to be from Guimaras. The church has this courtyard that displays some religious artifacts, while the interior of the church reminded of the church from those '80s movies. The red tile flooring and white walls served as the mirrors of the church's ceiling-less roof.

Sixth Destination - Sixth Station - Tigbauan Roman Catholic Church

I didn't spent so much time at Guimbal since there's really not much to see, so I headed up north again and found myself standing in front of another Iloilo's gem, the Tigbauan Church. This church is considered as one of the most unique churches here in the country because of its Churrigueresque style or something like the Spanish baroque style.

The facade that carries an Augustinian seal has these floral decorations that gives the whole piece some elegance and artsy. I personally love how each brick has aged and how it gives the church these really old feel, but to my surprise, when I got inside the church, a colorful world awaits me.

If you think that the facade is already a work of art, wait till you see the murals inside Guimbal Church. I never expected something like this here, because the interior is so modern and  it was a splash of rainbow, really. Every image on the wall is created from colored square tiles and the whole church is simply neat and colorful! Contrasting, but it made me glad that I have visited it.

Seventh Destination - Seventh Station - Oton Church

The last church from this side of Iloilo that I visited is a modern-day church of Oton.

It was said that this new Oton Church was nothing compared to the old one, which has the Greek-Byzantine plan. But for me, a first-time visitor on this town, I can say that despite of  its modern look standing out of the way of the previous churches that I've visited, I had a pleasure seeing something like this here in the southern part of Iloilo.

There's still a part of the old church, though, that you can see when you visit this place. It is now turned into this mystical looking groto, which is also a pleasing spot here in Oton Church.

The sun is setting by the time I've finished looking around here. And since it's a no-no for me on this trip to visit a church at night, I click the pause button on this Via Crucis journey and headed back to my hotel to have my well-deserved rest.... Tomorrow is another day, 7 more wonderful churches to visit...TO BE CONTINUED.


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