Desecrating Cabatuan’s heritage cemetery chapel

A covered extension of the chapel constructed infront of the old one.

A covered extension of the chapel constructed infront of the old one.

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.

Front view of the new chapel

Front view of the new chapel

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:

My posts on the Cabatuan cemetery complex
Nereo Cajilig Lujan’s album in Old Iloilo FB group entitled STUPIDITY

All images by Nereo Cajilig Lujan

UPDATE! This is great news for the Cabatuan heritage cemetery chapel!


  1. Poor planning, bad taste. I hope they do something about this. I really had enough of priests who do not know what heritage and conservation mean.

  2. Pingback: » Victory for Cabatuan cemetery chapel! | Simbahan: Catholic Architecture & Heritage Blog

  3. @Sadat – read Estan’s post. You should be thankful outsiders care for your town’s heritage. Because obviously, locals like you don’t. What a shame people could be this ignorant. This is one of the worst heritage desecration of recent memory.

  4. Great minds are to make others great…
    Little minds discuss nonsense issues… Jhay xian Defensor

  5. ang ga comentar da wala mana guro pag simba kada lunes para sa minatay.. ang kalalouy da ang mga tigulang nga naga simba ka maantos sila sang subra kainit… tama lang gin himu sang Parish Priest indi mana sa mag matu2x without the big YES of his parishoners..

  6. hahaha paano abi nga SAD?? ang SAD dira kung ang sumilimba ma patay sa HEAT STROKE.. subra kainit…anhun ka heritage heritag nga ina kung wala sang may simba kung in case nga mag ulan providan nyo payong tanan nga sumilimba? or bc ang ga comentar wala saya ga simba da kung mag misa sa patyo…

  7. kag ang tag-iya ka patyo iya na ka SIMBAHAN.. anhun mo kapanami patyo mo kung ang spirito mo higko sang issue nga wala sang pulos..

  8. well, if people of Cabatuan will be as enlightened as Mr Lujan, Filipinos of succeeding generations would be able to appreciate and treasure what Cabatuan has for the world. It takes an extraordinary kind of person to appreciate what heritage is.

    Mr. Sadat, please, do travel and expand your mind.

  9. Jhay, I would suggest that you travel. Especially outside of the Philippines. While your suggestion is practical, there are laws to be followed and your priest broke the law. I also suggest that you think beyond the comfort and appreciate more what preservation of heritage can do to your town, to tourism, to giving people work.

    What would you think if the church of Miag-ao, a UNESCO World Heritage site was desecrated? People from all over the world visit MIag-ao because of that. And If they visit Miag-ao, where will they stay? where will they eat? What means of transportation will they take? Will they only visit Miag-ao? What if they hear that there’s a well preserved church and cemetery chapel in Cabatuan and they are interested with it and will visit.

    All that they need to spend. And what they spend will help the community, will help the city, will help Iloilo. It’s additional revenue, its additional income to people providing them service.

    Now, how about building a portico sa harap sg simbahan sg Miag-ao? Ano kaya ang mangyayari?

    Little minds are dangerous. Most of the time, they only think of short term solutions than seeing long term benefits.

  10. Jhay, what if you think about what Cabatuan has to offer to the world in terms of well preserved heritage structure and its potential for tourism? Siguro, your comment would be different di ba?

  11. Jhay, Cabatuan has one of Iloilo’s and the Philippines’s well preserved church and cemetery chapel. Alam mo ba yan? And we’ve writing about your place to highlight what you have so that other people will be informed and will visit. I do hope you understand something about tourism and how it will help people.

  12. Am aflat aceasta pagina, dupa ce am cautat despre Desecrating Cabatuan’s heritage cemetery chapel pe Google.
    Se pare ca informatia dvs e foarte valoroasa, mai ales ca am mai gasit aici si despre ora, ora exacta, lucruri interesante si folositoare.
    Mult succes in continuare!

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