Aside from the delicious batchoy, Iloilo is also known for its old Catholic churches. About three year ago, I had the chance to see three of its famous churches: the Jaro Cathedral, the Molo Church, and the Miag-ao Church.
According to the historical marker outside the church, the Jaro Cathedral was built in 1874 upon the order of the first bishop of Jaro, Mariano Cuartero, O.P. Filipino journalist and orator Graciano Lopez Jaena was baptized in this Baroque-style church located in the district of Jaro. What's interesting with this church is that its belfry is built separately from the church structure just across it.
Molo Church (also called St. Anne Parish) is a massive Gothic-Renaissance style structure found in the plaza of the district of Molo. Originally, this church was made of nipa but the plan to rebuild it into its current structure was approved in 1869 by Bishop Mariano Cuartero. Dr. Jose Rizal visited this church and admired its biblical paintings. Our local guide pointed to us the house across the church where the national hero stayed when he came to visit the church.
To see how massive this Molo Church is, just look at this picture where me and my two companions stood in the foreground.
It was already dusk when we reached the municipality of Miag-ao where the Miag-ao Church is found. Too bad I wasn't able to get a clear picture of this Baroque-style structure which was declared as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Baroque Churches of the Philippines". But I do remember that the facade was elaborately designed and its walls were thick. When we arrived, we also heard a children's choir practicing.
Centuries-old, massive, and intricately designed church buildings are indeed impressive. I've also visited the St. Mary's Church and All Saints Church (the latter was where Martin Luther posted his 95 theses) in Lutherstadt, Wittenberg in Germany. Both have become museums and no longer regular places for worship. However, the Bible speaks of another kind of church--a living, body of believers who worships God continuously. This kind of church is not a physical structure, but a group of faithful believers not confined in one space, but scattered through out the world; not even perfect as long as she's here on this earth, but forgiven by her Savior, and thus, she worships Him as Lord.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22