It would have been one of the countryâ€™s spectacular churches, if not the most beautiful were it not for a natural cataclysm that razed it to the ground. Otonâ€™s once majestic church, in the form of a Greek cross, was unique as it was the only one with such a plan and architecture blending Byzantine with Gothic and classical elements.
From the collection of archival photos of the San Agustin Museum courtesy of Fr. Pedro Galende, three old photos of the beautiful Cabatuan cemetery are featured here. Above, is the capilla or chapel sans the vegetation that now blocked the view from the entrance. This chapel has the most stylized skull and crossbone bas relief in the country.
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.
The back end of the camposanto is a wall filled with niches. During the colonial era, families of stature are interred here while the general public were buried at the grounds. The material used is not only limestone blocks but also bricks which form the frame of the niche as well as at the top portion of the columns. The capital are tuscan but some are already missing.
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.
Entrance into the cemetery is via three stone archways conveniently distanced, about a few meters from each other. All have the same design from the iron cross, the floral motif, down to the columns, lunettes and gate. A pair of urn like finials used to decorate the sides of the top arch. Now, only on finial remains which can be found at the right arch.
The octagonal capilla of the Cabatuan cemetery. The camposanto of Cabatuan is one of the country’s well maintained and artistic cemeteries, one of a few extant structures that have survived in Iloilo province. It is located along the highway, just a few kilometers before the massive and equally beautiful brick church in this municipality.