Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Small-Town Charm of CABATUAN

photo by Norman Posecion (USA-CAP)


CABATUAN, Iloilo possesses a number of attractions, with landscapes varying between mountains, rivers, with each holding its own unique character. Many of these attractions are being enjoyed by people, either in quest of heritage or adventurous people in search of new challenges and experiences.

photo by Norman Posecion (USA-CAP)

The Neo-Classical style structure of SAN NICOLAS DE TOLENTINO PARISH popularly known as Cabatuan Church was constructed in 1732. Each side of the church is a facade in itself with walls overlaid in red bricks. The central structure was in a shape of a cross about 50 meters long and 20 meters wide with walls about a meter and a half thick. The main altar was flanked by two minor altars. It was described as the “Model of Temples” by El Eco de Panay because it is one of the best representations of European Architecture in the Philippines. It was built with six belfries and three facades with a complex design structure associated with majestic European Basilicas. It was included in an international guidebook in the 1900s. However, it lost four belfries, the central dome and the pediments of the eastern and western facades in the 1948 earthquake that left it partially damaged.

photo by Jun Fuerte

The perfect square CABATUAN CEMETERY was constructed in 1886. It is said to be the most planned and well-organized in terms niches in the entire province of Iloilo. Its walls and chapel were made of selected stones hauled from the mountains of Leon. The cemetery is dominated by three byzantine arch entrances and a baroque central chapel is located at the center. The chapel is a fusion of roman, gothic, byzantine, and baroque architectures where its complex carvings is considered to be the most distinct cemetery relief which can only be found there. It was heavily damaged in the 1948 earthquake and was later reconstructed to its original form.


The municipality is also known during Holy Week with the annual celebration of their Via Crucis by way of KAPIYA contest and PASYON singing on Good Friday. The Kapiya display is an annual competition of beautifully depicted series of sculptures made of indigenous materials popular in the area. The characters are life-sized and are even well-lighted during the evening. The singing of the account of the Sacred Passion of Christ is locally known as Pasyon. This is a practice of continued singing, originally taking 18-20 hours without disruption from start to finish. The song recounts the life of Christ with commentaries and moral lessons and ends with verses that encouraged everyone to follow the teachings of Christ. The singers, young and old are engage in marathon chanting of the Christ’s Passion in their little makeshift bamboo chapels clustered in the different streets of the town. It is truly a unique experience for a tourist to witness this town’s way of celebrating Holy Week.

photo by Norman Posecion (USA-CAP)

TINUOM is a native delicacy of the town and is prepared by wrapping cutlets of native chicken with chopped tomatoes, onions and tanglad, one fourth cup of water and salt. The mixture I then wrapped in banana leaves and tied at the tip, It is then steamed for several minutes until the chicken meat becomes tender. Tinuom tastes similarly to our tinola but is less salty and the banana leaves gives the dish its own distinctive taste. Leah’s Tinuom is the original carinderia or mini food restaurant in the area known to serve the dish. It has become a popular destination for many when in Cabatuan. The place is situated at the right side of the municipal public market.


TINUOM FESTIVAL celebrated annually every September is a way of showcasing its culture, and it will give people a chance to see how Tinuom, its One wn One Product is done. The festival dance style is usually depicted in dress by the prevalent use of chicken feathers in the regalia. Dancers use feather bustles worn on the upper back, and creative ornamentation but stylized. Many dancers use vibrant colors to highlight their costumes. The moves highlight movements reminiscent of chicken. The festival is the highlight of the municipal fiesta celebration where competing tribes composed of students from secondary schools in the town compete for the grand prize.

The municipality of Cabatuan is 24.2 kilometers west-central from Iloilo City. Made up of 68 barangays, the townt is connected to a national highway that passes through the towns of Pavia and Sta. Barbara. Four other national roads connect the town to its neighboring municipalities; Alimodian in the south; Maasin in the west; New Lucena in the north-east; and Janiuay in the north where the highway continues northward to Lambunao and Calinog and then to Tapaz, Capiz.

No matter when you visit, you are sure to find a memorable Cabatuan in full swing with an atmosphere that is warm and welcoming for residents and visitors alike. To get to Cabatuan, one can take a jeepney or van at the terminal fronting Christ the King Memorial park in Jaro, Iloilo City. For more information, please contact, Mr. Francisco Gonzaga – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09283649477.

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