Cabatuan camposanto: the capilla

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The Cabatuan cemetery capilla: front, right and back views.

The cemetery capilla or chapel is octagonal in form with three gated entrances. It is found at the center of the camposanto grounds just like in Miag-ao and San Joaquin, this province. Unlike in Dalaguete and Argao in Cebu and EB Magalona in Negros Occidental which are located at the back, connected to the perimeter wall.

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Facade decorations: left, a highly stylized skull and crossbones; right, weblike floral relief.

The Cabatuan camposanto perhaps possesses the most stylized skull and crossbones motif of any colonial era cemetery that I have visited across the country. What separates it from the rest is the presence of the palm like relief surrounding it. In other areas, it’s just a simple carving. This facade decoration can be found at the top of the three chapel entrances.

What I find fascinating here is the consistent use of the weblike floral relief. Found at the top of the arches at the entrance to the cemetery, it can also be seen at the top of the chapel. Inside, it is repeated, lining the walls just before it terminates at the ceiling.

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Details: left, chapel entrance arch with grill; right, outside column base

The perimeter entrance arch is echoed again at the chapel with its lunettes and iron grill work. Compared to the former where the wrought iron is heavy, here, it is used lightly.

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Left, the three chapel entrances as seen from inside. Note occupied niche at the floor between the left and middle portals; right, top cross and finial

The rounded urn like finial this time differs from those found at the top of the perimeter fence pier and archway which is a square. It crowns the chapel’s columns.

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Left, ovate ceiling; right, altar with crucifix

While the chapel is octagonal in form, the interior is ovate. The natural color of the limestone is still very much evident. Unlike the camposanto capilla in Sibonga, Cebu which has a stone dome, here it is made of wood. I’m not sure if this is the original or it was a dome before but collapsed in the ensuing years.

A simple sacrificial type of altar with a modern crucifix forms the focal point of the interior.

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Other details: left, the same weblike floral motif lining the edge of the ceiling; middle, detail of floral pattern of floor tiles; right, niches inside the chapel

Floral relieves everywhere! We can see again this now common motif. In an apparent harmony with the stone decorations, the floor tiling, said to be original, adopts it with its beautiful hexagonal black tiles with a stylized flower whose eight petals resemble more the rays of the sun.

Flanking the altar at both sides but not immediately beside it, are three rows – two columns, of occupied niches. Here, the more important members of the town were interred.

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