I have never seen beautiful churches strategically placed on every town ever in my whole life until I went to Iloilo. So people might wonder what's so interesting with visiting churches unless it is Visita Iglesia? It is interesting because the churches are a testament to the very rich and flourishing history of Iloilo as a major city in the past. A queen city where the way of life is anchored in faith. I tell you, never leave Iloilo without visiting the churches. A friend from Antique said that some churches are miraculous, so when you are troubled or in need of serious or mild introspection, going to Jaro and Miag-ao can be satisfactory for your soul. And it doesn't hurt that these churches are also satisfactory to the eye.While these churches are ancient and historical, nothing prepared me for their jaw dropping gorgeousness. They are so beautiful, they give you this warm fuzzy feeling inside...the kind that makes you want to cry. Or want to get hitched just so you can marry in one of these churches.
I stayed in downtown Iloilo and the guy from local coffeeshop called "Coffee Break" told me to visit Molo church first as it is the nearest from where I was. A jeepney ride after and there it was. Gorgeous gothic church straight out of Britain or Scotland. Or whereever. It's so beautiful I didn't even dare to take a picture of myself or asked this man to take a picture of me in front of the church. They say it was also called the St Anne church, or a feminist church. Good start.
Next is the beautiful Jaro Cathedral. I went to buy bibingka and pasalubong in the original Biscocho Haus in Jaro and made a pitstop to the cathedral. This is another beauty straight out of some British town or a Harry Potter book. Gorgeous. They say that if Molo church was feminine, this, the Jaro Cathedral is the masculine church.
Next I took a jeep to Oton Terminal to ride the jeepney or multicab going to San Joaquin. San Joaquin Church they say, is located in Antique (or near the border of Antique and Iloilo). The jeepney fare is cheap for only 45 pesos one way. I think there are vans available or you can hire a cab for your church tour but, I want to ride the jeepney instead. Along the way, you will be able to see the many town churches and plazas as these serve as landmarks of the city centers, so navigating through your DIY church tour is fairly easy.
The road to San Joaquin was scenic especially nearing MiagAo and University of the Philippines Visayas. It's a seaside road and the view is breathtaking.
I first passed by the lovely yet melancholic Tigbauan Church which is Latin (Mexican) in style and structure. This was constructed as early as 1575! Frankly when I went there it looked kind of deserted, but that's where its charm is! It's straight out of an old movie and I was having my very own mental time travel while staring at it.
Next is the Guimbal Church which is a sight to behold. It's made of sandstone and corals and was constructed as early as the 1700's. I liked the shape and dome of the church which made it regal, like a watchtower that protects the Guimbal town. What's amazing with the church is the huge plaza which reminded me of Rizal Park in Manila.
San Joaquin Church is a gorgeous structure, with a war sculpted on its surface. According to sources, it is unique because of the depiction of the Spanish victory over the Moorish pirates in the Battle of Tetuan. It is made of limestones. You have to ride the little pedicabs to get to the church though. San Joaquin church has been named unique and recognized by CNN and other sites.
Next was the Magnificent MiagAo Church. Seeing it for the first time is like seeing a mirage. It stood there, gorgeously by the bend, and its orangey color moved me. It stood like a queen. It's so big, but not imposing. In the front, you'll see intricately carved artwork, it looks like an ornate desert pastry, it's that girly. But when you go to the side you'll see thick walls, which makes this delicate-looking church more like a fortress. It was architecturally categorized as Baroque in style. I learned later on that this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the only one in Visayas. (one of the four Baroque Churches in the Philippines recognized by UNESCO)
True, Manila has some amazing churches but Iloilo seems to bellow: "Iloilo is so blessed by the Gods, they took up permanent residence. And why wouldn't they, if they have such magnificent houses?"