Our exploration of the historic churches in Iloilo wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Cathedral at Jaro (pronounced Ha-ro). I was awed by the magnificent structure of the church and by the fact that it is packed full of people from all walks of life who were there to attend Sunday mass. This high attendance is something that, in my observation, a lot of churches in other cities sorely lack. It is also proof that, a few centuries after the religion was brought over by the Spaniards, Roman Catholicism is still very much at the core of this province’s life. 

I won’t bother going into the specific details of the places that we went to, such as the geography, culture and all that, since loads of this info is already abundant on the internet. What I’d do is show you the wonderful photos that I was able to take at Jaro and everywhere else. These include:

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The view of Jaro Cathedral from the far left corner of Jaro town plaza.

 

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There was some argument between my guides (made up of various in-laws, all natives of Iloilo and Capiz) as to what this structure used to be.A popular belief among them is that this used to be part of a walled fort that has now been converted into the current Jaro town plaza. One of them went on to explain that guards/lookouts were posted on the balconies of the tower to ensure the fort’s safety against intruders. However, according to this link http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://iloilocity.gov.ph/downloads/historical.pdf, the structure used to be the old church’s belfry and it is the only structure that survived the quake of the early 1900’s, just before WWII began.

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Luckily, I was able to take a photo of the front of the Cathedral during Sunday mass. The crowd was overflowing and there were worshippers who had to stand outside the doors and strain to hear the words of the priest.

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According to this plaque,Jaro Cathedral was built in 1874 by the first Bishop of Jaro, Bishop Mariano Quartero. 1874. 140 years ago. That’s almost a century and a half worth of history.

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Stairway to heaven. There are 2 sets of stairs that lead to an elevated balcony-like structure that leads to the statue of the Nuestra Sra de la Infancia, whom Pope John Paul II proclaimed as patroness of Western Visayas in 1982, a year before I was even born.

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This plaque explains the presence of the balcony-like structure that was built into the Cathedral’s front wall.

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The first thing I noticed was the fact that the worshipers on that balcony who were offering candles, flowers, and prayers were all women.

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The view of the ancient tower/belfry from the Cathedral’s balcony.

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Before leaving, I just had to have my photo taken in front of a Spanish-colonial-style house that stands right beside the Jaro Cathedral. My guides were all in agreement when they told me that the house has been standing there for as long as any of them can remember, and that it probably dates back to the Spanish era.

Jaro Cathedral in Iloilo. Just one more evidence of the extent of Spain’s influence in Philippine culture. Just one more part of Philippine history that I never read about in any of my school books and that truly amazed the history buff in me as soon as I saw a glimpse of it.

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