Tag Archive: Iloilo



This is the Church of Saint Anne in Molo, Iloilo. Some coral rocks, some sand, some eggwhites. And then, the statues of 16 women saints. Seek their graces and feel empowered, woman!

 

 

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The church is right across the beautiful district plaza where one finds a domed pavilion with 6 Greek goddesses. Why Greek? I honestly don’t know. Our guide kept harping on the “Athens of the Philippines” bit, but I feel it’s a stretch. The Gothic Church stands on its own, and the plaza….well, let’s just say it’s neat and pretty without any reference to the Athens line.

 

 

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Molo. Say that, and what immediately comes to mind is a clear broth with pork and shrimp dumplings. In olden times, the districts and towns along the shoreline were constantly raided by Moro pirates. The place being Iloilo’s version of Chinatown had many Chinese settlers, who pronounced “Moro” as “Molo”. This also explains the Chinese influence on its famous local dish “Pancit Molo”, one of my favorites.

 

 

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The church interiors made great use of columns, many of which along the main aisle is adorned by a female saint. You may address your prayers for intercession to Saints Cecilia, Teresa, Monica, Mary Magdalene, Clara, Martha, Rose de Lima, and many others. The statues, woodwork, stained glass, carvings and paintings are worth a few seconds’ pause, if you will.

 

 

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The ochre color, the flying buttresses, the ornately-designed bas reliefs, the uneven belltowers, and the gold-plated retablo. All that speak of a history surrounding the St. Thomas of Villanueva Church, more commonly, and simply called Miag-Ao Church.Β 

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The church facade is unique. St. Christopher is depicted like a local, more so as he is illustrated holding on to a coconut tree. There are also other “local” elements represented here like local fruits and flowers. Interestingly, the typical village life is very much represented in this art form.

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The Retablo

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Impressive Altar & Sanctuary

Inside, the interiors are simple, but very elegant. The antique gold plated retablo is impressive. So with the altar. A story goes that the altar dates from the late 1700s which was subsequently lost during the 1910 fire and later found and re-installed during repair excavations in 1982.

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The Flying Buttresses

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One of 2 Bell Towers attached to the church.

You’d wonder why the 2 bell towers at the church front are uneven, or simply different, unmatched. Used as watchtowers against Moro pirates, the 2 towers were built separately. The older and taller belfry is the one on the left side. Apparently, the 2 priests who commissioned the work thought it unimportant to match the design and architecture of the 2 towers. If you ask me, I think the disparity makes it unique.

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The Baptistery


I confess this trip was hatched as a serious “food trip” with friends. My love affair with shellfish has withstood the test of time and coming home, I’ve been dreaming of my favorite hard-shelled loves. But 4 days of marathon dining can get us into serious trouble so we arranged to visit some heritage churches and ancestral homes as well.

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Of the churches we visited, I was impressed with this Church. Tigbauan’s architecture has Latin American influence ….. “Churriquesque” it’s called. It doesn’t register at all with me. Admittedly the first time I heard of it. Otherwise, I would have thought it refers to some barbecued specialty dish. (I’m hopeless) . I wonder how it looked back when it was constructed in 1575 before a 1948 earthquake destroyed much of it but for the bell tower, a few pillars and church facade. The mosaics which were actually what caught my attention in the first place, were installed when the church was restored following the 1948 destruction.

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Officially named Saint John of Sahagun Church, many simply refer to it as Tigbauan Church after the town where it is located. San Juan de Sahagun was an Augustinian friar who earned many enemies during his time in Salamanca, Spain where he was known for his sermons and scathing words which offended many from the upper echelons of society. It was believed then that the fierce saint died from poisoning by a woman who sought revenge. The woman was a nobleman’s concubine who was “enlightened” by Saint John of Sahagun . Wicked woman!

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Old, original, or not, I am impressed with the mosaic interiors. The altar looks lovely in an austere way. The niches with the Last Supper, saints as well as the Stations of the Cross, look just as charming in an old world way. I just hope the local parishioners and authorities work on the full restoration of the belfry and facade, remnants of this centuries-old church.