While the whole of Kalibo
was still nursing their hangover from the previous night's crazy drinking and partying (all in the name of Sto Nino), we inched ourselves to travel to Iloilo
. From Numancia where our hotel was, it was an easy tricycle ride to the town center, then another tricycle to Kalibo commercial district, then another ride to the Van Station. To save some hours of travel, we decided to take the van instead of bus. The normal bus ride could take up to 5 hours, but for the van, it could take the whole stretch for only few minutes above 3 hours.
There was no available van when we arrived at the station, so decided to eat breakfast first in the closest fastfood.
Colorful Candles Which Jaro Church is Known For
The purpose of this trip was to explore Iloilo for a day and we would be back to Roxas
to spend our night there. This means that we would be travelling to Iloilo for 3 hours then quick lunch in Iloilo then travel for about 45 minutes to Miag-ao where our final destination was. Then return for 45 minutes jeepney ride back to Iloilo, then a taxi ride to the van station then another 2.5 hours to Roxas City
where our flight back to Manila
has been booked the following day. The itinerary was for sure tiresome and for many people they would think it as absurd.
I had my good reason for doing such itinerary.
Miag-ao Church, a UNESCO site
Since last year, I have been visiting Philippine churches that are marked as UNESCO World Heritage sites as part of the category of Baroque Churches uniquely found across the entire archipelago. The problem with these churches is that they are scattered across the country. Two churches are up north (Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte
and Sta Maria Church in Ilocos Sur), one in Manila (San Augustin Church in Intramuros) and lastly, Miag-ao Church in Iloilo. To complete all four churches, I have to see Miag-ao. I can't afford to leave Panay Island without seeing its gem, its architectural and historical treasure. This is not a religious thing for me, I just love churches. That's all. :)
From Kalibo to Iloilo, the road condition was pretty okay except for about 10 kilometes of unpaved road from Capiz-Iloilo boundary to Passi City.
Going to Iloilo was easy, we were still fresh from last night sleep. Once in Iloilo City
proper, we saw one church first before going to my friend's hotel. We decided to see the Jaro Cathedral. This church was built in 1864. It is a very old looking church. Its belfry is detached and can be found across the road from the cathedral. Most churches in Iloilo including this one has been severely damaged by a big earthquake in 1948. This church was not spared and even the belfry collapsed and was just recently reconstructed. There's an image of Mary on the second level of the church. Devotees would offer candles of different colors, thus the image is known as the Lady of the Candles.
After church visit, we went to drop our bags to my friend's hotel.
Then we had lunch. During lunch a friend realized that he just lost a thousand peso bill. Oh well, poor him. That's a bagful of goodies for pasalubong. Anyway, after lunch, we travelled westward away from Iloilo to see the Miag-ao Church, the last UNESCO church in the Philippines that I have not seen so far. To see the church would finally close a cycle to me, that's why I was so excited. After 45 minutes, I was already standing in front of a very beautiful church. A sight really worth all the hours of travel.
The Church of Santo Tomas
de Villanueva, also known as Miag-ao Church was built between 1787 and 1797. Its fortress-like design suggests its purpose as not just a place of worship but also as a fort used to defend the town from the raiding moros during the Spanish occupation.
Buttresses common to the Earthquake Baroque Churches of the Philippines
Its unique features include the unusual facade depicting St. Christopher carrying the baby Jesus through a tropical forest. The material used in building the church is made from silt and clay that can only be found in this part of Iloilo, giving the building a unique warm-yellowish glow. Flying buttresses from the side of the church walls are typical of the "earthquake baroque" design typical to old Philippine Baroque churches. Another exciting trivia about the church is why the two towers are not identical. A priest told us a story that the original designer died during the construction, and the reliever refused to follow the original design. I am sure there was some sort of pride struggle during the construction of this church. The church's simple interior is nevertheless highlighted by a striking gold-plated retablo. The interior was too simple if compared with Bohol's and even Bicol's churches.
Facade of Molo Church
Going back to Iloilo, we then went to Molo Church. This Gothic-Renaissance-styled church is made of coral rocks (affixed with a mortar made from egg whites mixed with sand). It is known to be a feminist church because of the two rows of sixteen female saints line on both sides of the altar. Molo church is very sturdy and has survived many fires, earthquakes including the big one in 1948, artillery barrages during the Japanese attack in 1945. What took my attention was the crown of the pointed arches of the church. They looked to me like the crown of stupas in Myanmar like that of the golden Shwedagon in Yangoon.
There's a funny story about the name of the town came about. The town is called "Molo" because people used to seek refuge here during times of war. It was the Chinese district and everytime the Moros would arrive, they would yell out in warning "Moro! Moro!", but of course, the Chinese could not pronounce the 'r' and said "Molo" instead.
The Towers of Molo Church
That is why it's called Molo. I read it somewhere in the net, I'm not sure if it's true.
After the Molo Church visit, we decided to wrap up of Iloilo experience by buying some sweets for the people waiting for us in Manila. I bought butterscotch, something Iloilo is very famous of. By friend managed to buy a bagful of sweets despite that he already lost a thousand bucks. I was already tired after doing what we did for that day, we went back to my friend's hotel freshen up. We need to catch a van leaving at 630 PM. So after few minutes, we bade goodbye to Addie and the two of us left for Roxas.
By the way, I saw a lot of old houses in Iloilo City that looks like Manor Houses during the boom of the sugar industry of this place. This, and Dinagyang is another reason why I am coming back to Iloilo. :)