Some mortuary chapels in Luzon and the Visayas

The domed octagonal cemeteray of Tabaco is impressive with its architecture. Volcanic stone is used, just like the cathedral.

The domed octagonal cemetery of Tabaco is impressive with its architecture. Black volcanic stone is used, just like the cathedral.

Extant mortuary chapels in the country are hard to find except maybe if you are in the province of Iloilo where there are a few excellent examples. However, beyond that province and Cebu, there are also scattered across the rest of the regions but not all and I haven’t seen one from Mindanao. During my travels, I was able to find some that are now posted here.

Not all towns and cities have them as only the more affluent ones were able to build these. Typically, these cemetery chapels are either found at the center, some are at the back end and an exception seems to be the Simbaan a Bassit which, other than located at the front, it has the only working espadaña, architectural feature where the bells are hung at the pediment, in the region. Nagcarlan is beautiful with its circular cemetery like Paco in Manila (not shown here), sports an espadaña and has a catacomb, the only one that I’ve seen.

Lucban and Tayabas surprised me with its twin belfries. While the former is in ruins, the latter is still in working condition and made me smile because of the gothic architecture (lancet portal & trefoil). Still in Tayabas, the Santuario de las Almas is huge compared to the other chapels.

Cabatuan, San Joaquin, Miag-ao all in Iloilo and Tabaco City in Albay have their own octagonal chapels of which San Joaquin is the most impressive. Tabaco’s is also stunning because of its dark volcanic stones. These two are domed.

Lastly, Sta. Maria in Ilocos Sur looks impressive but it’s difficult to ascertain as it is already in ruins. The one in Malabon, Metro Manila has only its lower part extant and is also in ruins. Both were constructed by the Augustinians and are located just near the main church.


  1. Estan, many of your photos display spectacular traces of damaging earthquakes. This one of Malabon cemetery chapel shows displaced elements of an arch, usually produced by major earthquakes only. I am geologist, dealing with history of the environment. I’d like to contact you and others knowledgeable of ancient masonry buildings. Salamat, mik_

  2. Hi Estan,

    The Malabon mortuary chapel looks like only the roof was removed. Unfortunately, the cemetery complex was desecrated once again. if you noticed the monument in the center and the old apartment niches around, thus making this the only remaining intact old cemetery and church complex in the country.

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