I was aghast to see a photo of the beautiful Cabatuan cemetery chapel being desecrated with a modern covered extension, in the process of completion, right infront of its central entrance when I opened my Facebook. A friend, Vincent Valencia, tagged me the photo below. The image is just one of several that Nereo Cajilig Lujan took and posted in an album at the Old Iloilo FB group.
Looking at especially, the image above, one can just feel how blatantly the parish priest, Fr. Patricio A. Salarda imposed his sense of taste by constructing an ugly covered structure directly infront of the main entrance of the chapel, violating Heritage Preservation laws and disrespecting cultural heritage structures.
Cabatuan cemetery is one of only eight beautiful cemetery complex in Iloilo and one of the few with still existing central chapels that are highly stylized, artistically designed and architecturally significant. Completed in 1894, this is one of the heritage sites that I first visited in the province.
Iloilo is one of a few provinces in the Philippines rich in heritage churches, cemeteries and secular buildings. It has also an active heritage group and government plans of reviving the downtown area, starting with the refurbishing of some old structures there are laudable. One would then think that heritage preservation and awareness is very much alive in the province. Then this happened right under our noses.
It is disheartening and frustrating that the Catholic Church in this country, with its own heritage commission and guidelines to religious heritage preservation is often ineffective with violators priests who should know otherwise. It doesn’t mean that if its church property, the current parish priest can just do whatever he wants. In the case of Cabatuan cemetery, the intent might be noble but the action is ill advised and insensitive to the heritage preservation cause.
The parish priest should be made to account for this. Ignorance of the law is never an excuse.
Check the following:
All images by Nereo Cajilig Lujan
UPDATE! This is great news for the Cabatuan heritage cemetery chapel!