Centuries Old Churches in Negros Occidental and Iloilo

 This Lenten season, one of the cultural practices by some of the Filipinos is Visita Iglesia or visiting several churches. Here are some of the Centuries Old Churches in Negros Occidental and Ilo-Ilo. Let's start with Miag-ao Church, UNESCO World Heritage Site. Construction began in 1787 while Fray Francisco M. Gonzales. O.S.A. was the parish priest of Miag-ao and Domingo Libo-on  was the Gobernadorcillo. The Church was completed in 1797 and it served as the fortress against Muslim Raiders. During revolution, this church was destroyed but was rebuilt. Like other heritage churches, it was damaged by fire and earthquake. Restoration work began in 1960 and was completed in 1962.

Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral is another example of the historical baroque architectures in the country. Built in 1864 by the order of Mariano Cuartero, who is the first bishop of Jaro. In 1948, this structure was destroyed by earthquake and was restored in 1956 by the order of the first archbishop Jose Ma. Cuenco. The famous orator, Graciano Lopez Jaena was baptized in this church. In 1976, this church was proclaimed as Historical Landmark by the National Historical Institute.

Molo Church (St. Anne Parish) is situated in front of Molo town plaza.  Molo is actually one of the seven districts of Ilo-Ilo City which formerly called Parian (Chinatown) because the residents here were mostly Chinese. Then it was changed into Moro because of the frequent arrival of Muslim pirates from Mindanao, but later evolved in Molo – Wikipedia.com. It was built in 1831 by the Ilonggo artists. This church has Gothic-Renaissance architecture and it’s the only one outside Manila. It is made from coral stones with egg whites mixed with sand for some parts.

Historian  found it difficult to establish the exact year when Tigbauan Church was originally built or established. It is believe that there had been no parish priest when the church was established, but it could be possibly between 1575 to 1580 when F. Luis de Montoya was assigned as Prior. This church underwent a lot of repairs because of the natural disasters like earthquake. The said repaid was lead by different people who served as the church leaders.

Guimbal Church or St. Nicholas of Tolentino Church  doesn’t have any record to when I was erected or established. But, completed between 1769 and 1774 under Friar Juan Campos. In 1893, it was further enlarged but later was destroyed by fire during the Revolution in 1896 to 1898. This church was built from coral stone and yellow limestone through forced labor. The design is more on Spanish Colonial Style. The columns placed on the facade were added as additional support and has an artistic design.

San Jose Church is the first church in the city of Ilo-Ilo, built by the Jesuits around 1607.  But, on April 29, 1617, the Augustinians established San Jose, a house of the order. It was saved from being bombed by the Americans during World War II.  As the years goes by, some renovations were made.

The original structure of Bacolod Cathedral was constructed in 1825 which was made of wood and galvanized iron roofing. Similar to other centuries old structures, this church also faced several calamities. Originally founded by Bishop Mariano Cuartero. O.P. Cornerstone laid on April 27, 1876. Inaugurated on January 20 1882 under Fray Mauricio Ferrero as the first parish priest. Became a cathedral on June 23, 1933.

San Diego Pro-cathedral formerly known as San Diego Parish Church or St. Didacus Parish Church, it was declared as a pro-cathedral in 1994. It is the only church in Silay City that features a dome which is like St. Peters in Vatican City. It was established in 1776 using bamboo, cogon grass and nipa palm. Then it was in 1841 when this parish was constructed using stone and wood lead by Fr. Eusebio Locsin. A grandeur structure was made in 1925 and replaced the old church. A wealthy sugar baron, Don Jose R. Ledesma from Silay, donated some parts of the funds in building the new structure.