When you think of Iloilo, you most likely think of pristine beach resorts, delicious food, colorful festivals, and warm Ilonggo hospitality. But with its capital as the first Queen City of the South, Iloilo served as an economic and religious center of the Philippines, as shown by its booming industries, vibrant tourism, and the enduring Roman Catholic faith. Plus, the Dinagyang Festival is one religious and cultural spectacle that tourists must-see on their visit to the province.
With Lent season approaching, it may seem a stretch to tour Iloilo and find peace since COVID-19 is still present. Still, there are a few spots such as these five destinations that you can visit for peace and solace without breaking social distancing and practicing proper disinfection.
Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral
Located in the district of Jaro, the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral is the seat of the Archdiocese of Jaro. Located half an hour away from the Iloilo International Airport, the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral is one of the most accessible churches in Iloilo. Devotees of the Our Lady of the Candles can visit, offer their prayers, and worship. But due to COVID-19, you might want to stay in and listen to the cathedral’s Seven Last Words program aired via Bombo Radio on Good Friday.
The Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It withstood periods of war and era changes, making it a historic landmark in the province. Plus, its aged Romanesque Revival facade creates a unique contrast against the modern structures, similar to Victoria Towers in Quezon City, surrounding the church.
Formally known as the Santo Tomás de Villanueva Parish Church, Miag-Ao Church is one place of worship you want to visit. The church dons a Baroque Romanesque architecture, with adobe, limestone, coral, and eggs used in its construction. Even non-religious tourists and locals may enjoy the beautiful sight of the well-loved church. Don’t forget to take a photo of the coconut tree engraved on the facade of the church. The tree symbolizes life; keeping an image of the tree may remind you that life will always find a way to thrive despite pandemics.
Garin Farm Pilgrimage Resort
As most people will flock to churches to complete their yearly Visita Iglesia, you might want to take a break from the church visits by going to another spot for praying and reflecting. Located at the municipality of San Joaquin, the Garin Farm Pilgrimage Resort is known for its 480-step stairwell that leads to a depiction of Heaven.
Upon reaching the top, you’ll see white cement figures of angels, saints, and clouds. You’ll also see images depicting the suffering of Jesus Christ before he was nailed on the cross. Such a sight may inspire you to reflect and repent of your actions in the previous year and the present.
Also known as the Parish of Saint Anne, Molo Church is another historic church that receives many visitors and devotees during Lent Season. It is called the Women’s Church due to housing only women saints in its pillars, contrasting Jaro Cathedral’s only-male saints.
If you are a fan of processions, then Molo Church is the right place for you. Every Good Friday, the church holds parades of its life-sized images carried by grand carrozas. Near the church are many heritage houses that served as residences of many prominent families of Molo.
San Joaquin Church and Cemetery
Brush up on your history knowledge by taking a glimpse of the San Joaquin Church’s pediment featuring the Spanish victory against the Moors of Battle of Tétouan. Like most Baroque churches in the Philippines, San Joaquin Church survived periods of war and era changes, making it a national and cultural treasure.
Perhaps the highlight of San Joaquin Church Complex is its cemetery, San Joaquin Campo Canto. Located a few meters from the San Joaquin Church, this cemetery is ideal for seeking a break from the city’s rush and noise.
Whether you are visiting churches or steering clear of religious gatherings, remember that Lent season is about seeking God and reflecting on your faith. The five destinations in Iloilo might just be the right spots for you to have solace and zen.