iloilo, travel/landmarks

Iloilo: The Cry of Sta. Barbara

Our 5-week vacation here in Iloilo was marked with 4 deaths and 2 funerals (we can’t attend the other 2 since we are scheduled to leave tomorrow night for Manila and on the 8th for Seoul). Funeral photos never saw the light of my facebook screen (I don’t have other SNS). Not for anything else but, no. I sometimes overshare my moments but personal grief isn’t shareable content. The whole family went to Sta. Barbara church twice for these funerals.

And… in the Philippines, visiting churches is almost always looking into the Philippine’s past.

This couldn’t be truer than in the Church of Sta. Barbara.

The Church of Sta. Barbara

The church and the convent beside it took an important role during the Philippine Revolution against the Spanish Rule. It became the headquarters of the liberation army headed by the local hero, General Martin Delgado. Thus,


reverberated throughout Philippine History as the Cry of Sta. Barbara. The Philippine flagpole right in front of the town hall is said to be the exact location of the Cry of Sta. Barbara on November 17, 1898.

Sta. Barbara town hall

How General Emilio Aguinaldo sent the Philippine flag to General Martin Delgado was an amusing story of ingenuity and bravery.  Tia Patron, the woman assigned to bring the flag to Gen. Delgado wrapped the flag around her waist covered by her patadyong and she had to act out a scene of a domineering wife so that the Spanish infantry ignored her and just let her through without thorough inspection.

General Martin Delgado was a mestizo and it wasn’t hard for the Spaniards to trust him. Unknown to Spain, he was sympathetic to the revolutionaries. More than that, he was credited to have laid down the groundwork for rebellion against Spain in the Visayas and Mindanao. Today, you can see a monument and a marker installed in his honor by the National Historical Commission right in the plaza facing the Sta. Barbara town hall. The plaza is also just right in front of the church.

Sta. Barbara native – Gen. Martin Delgado

In 2015, former President Benigno Aquino aptly made Sta. Barbara as the central venue for the celebration of Philippine Independence. Probably, it was just during this time when most Sta. Barbara natives began to be aware and appreciate the legacy of Sta. Barbara. Funny how we could take things for granted, right?

When I was a kid, I would go and visit relatives in Sta. Barbara and attend church service in what is now a national historical landmark as declared by the National Historical Institute. I would only see bats flying around while the priest continue with the mass, unmindful of these nocturnal mammals.

interior of Sta. Barbara Church

Don’t be deceived by the beautiful interior of the church. Bats sleep and fly around in here. My sons screamed while the funeral mass was going on because, in contrast to the frequent churchgoers, they weren’t used to having bats around… much more bats freely flying and people not even bothered by them.

On the West side of the Church is a little garden surrounded by the convent. The style is reminiscent of the Spanish influence.  Though more Romanesque, it is also an example of a Filipino baroque colonial style.

arches and pillars
dainty arches

Its arches and pillars, adobe, corals and red bricks whisper to the curious and the attentive of the polo y servicios that was forced upon the local population during its 30-year construction. The church was finally completed in 1878 and has survived the Philippine Revolution, the Philippine-American War and the Second World War.

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12 thoughts on “Iloilo: The Cry of Sta. Barbara

  1. I’m sorry for your losses. For such a short trip that was a bit much. 🙁
    Also, I’m very glad to read about a bit of history of your place! I didn’t know those details, but am glad I can come back to your blog when I visit Iloilo one day. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  2. Some very interesting history about those churches!
    Sorry for you losses. It’s difficult, but it’s at least nice you were able to be there for the family for at least some of the time.

  3. Sorry to hear about your unexpected losses while on vacation. I remember what stood out the most to me about the Philippines – were the churches. Most were very old and unkempt, but the one that you had to visit on numerous occasions is just stunning. Glad to see that you took something negative and made it into an informative post.
    Alla Ponomareva recently posted..Smyrna, Delaware breweriesMy Profile

    1. Churches… And big ones at that are everywhere in the Philippines. And chances are, they form part of the country’s history. Thanks, Alla.

  4. Reading this post is just like reading a history book. Shame on me I didn’t know about the story of Tia Patron, I don’t even know her. It’s amazing how this church played an important role in the Philippine history. And I’m sorry for your loss, condolences to your family. Our church in Mindanao has bats too, an like them, we’re not bothered by their presence.

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