Exploring the Rich Cultural Heritage of Iloilo

Exploring the Rich Cultural Heritage of Iloilo
by Danny Tariman

Located in Panay Island, in central Philippines, Iloilo is known for its rich cultural past: from old churches to heritage family houses. We had stayed in the city, and I had noted that despite the highly urbanized city central, the glow of provincial warmth is still maintained.

Join me and my family as we explore the “Queen City of the South”.

Miag-ao Church

Miag-ao Church: built in 1797.
Miag-ao Church: built in 1797.

This heritage church is some 40 kilometers away from the city. Despite the distance, I say this is a “must” place to visit. I was awed by facade of the church: very detailed carving etched on the front wall. It is said that this church was built in 1797 by Augustinian friars. It was declared by UNESCO as World Heritage Site in 1993. It is actually known as the Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Parish Church to the locals.

Guimbal Church

Guimbal Church. Another centuries old church we visited on our way from Miag-ao.
Guimbal Church. Another centuries old church we visited on our way from Miag-ao.

Another church we visited is the centuries-old Spanish-type church, the Guimbal Church. We passed by this church on our way to Miag-ao, but we decided to stop-over here after the Miag-ao visit.

It is said that the yellow-colored structure is made of corals and adobe rocks what were taken from Guimaras Island. And just like Miag-ao church, this was built by Augustinian friars too. This is the home of the San Nicholas de Tolentino Parish.

Molo Church

Molo Cathedral: More than an old church, the warmth of the servants and the Mass was 'extra-ordinary'.
Molo Cathedral: More than an old church, the warmth of the servants and the Mass was ‘extra-ordinary’.

I was instantly impressed with this centuries-old Gothic-architecture church – the Molo Church. It was built in 1831 and is known to locals as the St. Anne parish church. The ornate interiors, with arches connecting the posts, wow, it is really an art to behold.

We attended a Mass in this church. What also struck by the attentiveness of the usher. He really guided us through the crowd for us to get seats. The homily too was so down-to-earth, I believe the priest was able to connect to the church attendees and was able to convey the message.

It sits in front of a well-developed plaza. The plaza has also its own attraction: the dome-covered pavilion where a lot of church goers also takes photos.

Jaro Cathedral

The Jaro Cathedral, built in 1874, has a unique facade -- a stairway leading to the image of the Lady of Candles.
The Jaro Cathedral, built in 1874, has a unique facade — a stairway leading to the image of the Lady of Candles.

The Jaro Cathedral which was originally built in 1874 has a unique facade: it has stairs leading to the image of Our Lady of Candles (Candelaria). As with most of Iloilo churches, this old structure was rebuilt in 1956 after it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1948. Another unique feature of this church is its belfry which stands at the opposite side of the street.

Casa Mariquit

Casa Mariquit
Casa Mariquit

We arrived at this heritage house a bit late, hence it was closed. The outside of this old house shows the Spanish-type brick-and-wood charm. Never-the-less, we took some photos of the 200-year-old house which sits beside an old balete tree.

Ted’s Bachoy

My family having a good fill of our tummies at Ted's Bachoy
My family having a good fill of our tummies — an authentic bachoy — at Ted’s Bachoy

After a long day, we filled our hungry stomach with what is Iloilo City is known for – bachoy. There were a number of local food outlets that sells this Iloilo specialty but we just settled into the more popular Ted’s Bachoy. We had a real taste of this specialty soupy dish to the satisfaction of our palates.

Iloilo Esplanade

The Iloilo Esplanade along the river bank of Iloilo
The Iloilo Esplanade along the river bank of Iloilo

The Esplanade is a well-developed, and well-manicured river bank along Iloilo River. We had a good early evening stroll in this place. We enjoyed the night view of the river – with the street and building lights reflected on the river – and with the refreshing beautiful ornamental plants along the stretch of the walkway. This place is also a ‘must’ visit when you go to Iloilo.

At one end of the park is commercial area with a number of eateries and restaurants. We had our dinner in this place at Ramboys – which offers “Aklan best chicken and liempo”.

Biscocho House

Shopping for some presents for your friends back in the city? Don’t forget to drop by Biscocho house. This store offers a variety of local delicacies and sweets.

Oh, so much story to tell! Our wonderful Iloilo family experience will always be treasured!

One of the antique rooms of Maig-ao church.
One of the antique rooms of Maig-ao church.
The plaza fronting Molo Cathedral.
The plaza fronting Molo Cathedral.
My family at the grounds of Molo Plaza
My family at the grounds of Molo Plaza
A nice spot along the Esplanade for a souvenir photo.
A nice spot along the Esplanade for a souvenir photo.
The belfry of the Jaro Cathedral, opposite the church.
The belfry of the Jaro Cathedral, opposite the church.
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