Last week of March, I hastily decided to go on a long vacation. Admittedly, after the distress I got myself through, I needed a breather. A vacation totally uncalled for, I invited mom to go on a trip to Iloilo.
Iloilo is considerably one of the sacrosanct provinces in the Philippines that carries a rich culture and history.
Iloilo is also the family’s hometown. Dad is born in Pototan. Mom spent her younger days in Lambunao and in Iloilo City. It is also in Iloilo where my father’s ancestors made their marks in history.
I made a quick itinerary for the trip, thanks to exploreiloilo.com. Despite the fact that mom is from Iloilo, she had the least idea of where we can go. Besides, it’s been ages since she last visited it. So, I took charge.
Iloilo has its new international airport. It was used to be at the city proper but now it was moved to Santa Barbara. Mom’s sister fetched us from the airport, and we were able to pass by La Paz and Jaro on our first day.
Before we left for our island escapade in Concepcion, we visited first the Cathedral of Jaro, which is known not only for its architecture but also for its miraculous statue, the Lady of the Candles.
The Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria (Lady of the Candles) is the only rose among the all-male collection of statues which line the walls of the cathedral’s interiors. The Lady of Candles is perched on a glass-encased shrine carved out of the facade. The limestone is said to be continuously growing, and in fact, had become too large to fit into its original niche just above the present one. Her shrine is visited often by many devotees who believe the statue to be miraculous. This 400-year-old image is the focus of an annual Jaro Fiesta held every February 2.
The Jaro Cathedral (Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary) was built in 1864, the year the district was named a diocese by Pope Pius IX, by order of Bishop Mariano Cuartero, first bishop of Jaro. Destroyed in the quake of January 1948 and restored by order of His Excellency Jose Ma. Cuenco, first archbishop of Jaro in 1956. The cathedral’s style is basically Baroque, with the addition of Gothic elements over many variations.
The Jaro Cathedral is the first and only cathedral in Panay built in 1864. Baptized here was Graciano Lopez Jaena, patriot and orator, on December 20, 1856. A high point in the history of the cathedral was the visit of Pope John Paul VI, conducting a mass in 1982. He set a crown upon the Lady of the Candles and declared it the Patroness of the Western Visayas.
It was almost a 3-hour bus ride and it made me put into sleep, at last. By the time I woke up, we found ourselves tramping along the rice fields until we reached a familiar-looking pueblo and then realized that we finally reached Concepcion.
We were welcomed by the town’s tourism officer who I contacted before we started the trip. Geraldine brought us to Junbee Resort for accommodation. She, together with the resort’s owner, Mrs. Baby Garilva, made the arrangements for our island trip the following day.