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Cabatuan Church

Neoclassical in style, the church of San Nicolas de Tolentino, patron saint of Cabatuan, was built in 1834, replacing the temporary ones constructed by earlier priests. It was Rev. Fr. Ramon Alquizar, an Augustinian, who initiated the building the church. Every side of the church is a facade in itself. Its walls are overlaid with red bricks.

The Cabatuan church

Before World War II, there was a spacious rectory or convento at the right side of the church. It was however burned by the guerillas in 1942 as part of their scorched earth strategy. In 1943, it was demolished by the Japanese Imperial Army and its bricks were used as overlay for the Tiring Landing Field. On Jan. 25, 1948, the church was partly destroyed by an earthquake that rocked the island of Panay.

The central structure of the church is in the shape of the cross which is about 50 meters long and about 20 meters wide, with its walls about a meter and a half thick. Its facade is decorated with the pope's tiara flanked by the Augustinian symbol of the transfixed heart capped by the bishop's hat surrounded by a cord. The upper part of the walls have 19 circular windows with multicolored glass panes.

See more photos of the church

Cabatuan Cemetery

This is the only extant Spanish cemetery in the Philippines that is a perfect square. With an area of four hectares, it was completed in 1894 after a nine-year construction period. The construction was done under forced labor, with its walls and chapel made of selected stones from the mountains of Leon.

The cemetery is Roman in style and enclosed on all four sides by solid limestones base with artistically-designed steel railings. At the center of the cemetery stands a capilla with three entrance archways.

The capilla is still in good condition with its stone carvings still visible. Inscribed on a stone tablet at its main entrance is the line: "Hatagi siya O Guinoo sang capahuayan nga dayon (Eternal rest grant unto him, Oh Lord)."

The entrance archway (top) of the Cabatuan cemetery and its capilla at the center (bottom).

Tomas Confesor Marker and Monument

In 1974, the National Historical Commission erected a marker in Barangay Leong at the very spot where the house where Tomas Confesor was born on March 2, 1891 used to stand.

The statue of Tomas Confesor was constructed in 1991 at the northern portion of the town plaza to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth. At the base of the statue lies the mortal remains of the famous guerilla leader during World War II and his wife, the former Rosalina Grecia of Jaro, Iloilo City.

Visit the Tomas Confesor Digital Library

Pamul-ogan Hill and Cross

Found in Barangay Pamul-ogan, about 4 kilometers from the poblacion, is a hill where the seed of Christianity was said to have been planted by the Spaniards. A huge cross made of hard thick molave used to stand at its summit, although what remains of it now is only its base. Carved at the base of the cross is "1732", the year of the founding of Cabatuan. The date is less distinct but clearly visible.

The cross at summit of Pamul-ogan Hill

Residents blamed the babaylans for the loss of the cross who would scrape it every Good Friday because they believed it can give them supernatural powers. The scraped portions were used to mix with some medicinal herbs to make the concoction more effective. It became shorter not because of its exposure to the elements but because of this superstitious practice. Old residents of the town recall that the cross was more than four meters high.

Baluarte Hill

Popularly known as Balic Hill, thousands of devotees make their pilgrimage here every Good Friday by participating in the three-hour via crucis that starts at the church at 6 a.m. This is the final destination of the reenactment of the passion of Jesus Christ.

From the summit of the hill, one could see the silhouette of Guimaras and the strait of Iloilo to the east, and the blue-green mountains of Madjaas, Panay's hightest peak, and some rooftops in neighboring Maasin to the west

The cross at the summit of

Baluarte Hill

The Tree of Bondage

This calachuchi tree was said to be where the Spanish soldiers tied and punish with lashes erring Filipinos who were conscripted to forced labor during the construction of the Cabatuan church. Standing in front of the municipal hall, it is surrounded by steel railings and a marker facing the road. The tree has been there since the early 1800s.

The Tree of Bondage

Tiring Landing Field

Now a vast area of rice paddies, it used to be site of an airstrip of the Japanese Imperial Army. It stretches up to the boundaries of towns of San Miguel to the southwest and Santa Barbara to the east. Following the defeat of the Japanese, the American liberation forces turned the landing field into a general concentration camp of Japanese prisoners until they were all hauled by trucks to Iloilo City.

The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) is now eyeing the area to be the site of the Iloilo International Airport.

Japanese Fortification

This concrete structure was built by the Japanese Imperial Army in a hill in Barangay Tabucan, it is 20 feet in height and 9 feet in diameter. It served as a lookout post for Japanese soldiers guarding the road and approach of the Tiring Landing Field. Its walls are still intact until today.


Via Crucis sa Balic

Good Friday in Cabatuan is not complete without the Via Crucis to the Baluarte Hill, otherwise known as the Balic Hill. Every year, thousands of devotees make their pilgrimage every Good Friday by participating in the three-hour Via Crucis that starts at the church at 6 a.m. The procession's winding route is about three kilometers long, crossing the Balic Bridge, and ends at the summit of the hill. As the first pack of devotees reach the cross at the top of the hill, the tail of the procession can still be seen from the outskirts of the town, proof of the magnitude of participants in this religious event.

After the Via Crucis, residents of Barangay Balic serve devotees with ibus, alupi, puto, conchinta and other variance of rice cakes, native chocolate and ripe mango. The practice started in 1952 when Patricio Confesor, owner of the property when the hill stands, hired a bulldozer to cut an upward winding road which in short distance below look like a ribbon on top of a semi-circular vertical cliff.

Pasyon Singing and Kapiya

Another feature of Lent in Cabatuan is the pasyon singing and kapiya contests, a townwide undertaking participated in by 14 groups from 68 barangays. Preparations for the contest last for a week. The kapiyas are makeshift altars with a tableau of colorful life-size figures made of indigenous materials. These are put up in 14 street corners, each representing one station of the cross.

It is in these kapiyas where the afternoon Via Crucis stops for meditation. Men, women and children in barong tagalog and baro't saya sing the pasyon in the kapiyas, starting at dusk. The pasyon relates the story of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ in a song chanted for two hours by choirs composed of 15 to 40 members. During the Via Crucis, life-size images of saints kept by the town's elite families join the procession. It is followed by the hadu, or kissing the wounds of the Cricufied Christ at the church which lasts until the wee hours of Black Saturday.


Held at dawn of Easter Sunday, this is the announcement by an angel, portrayed by a child, of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The announcement is made after the images of the Mother Mary and the Resurrected Christ, each coming from opposite directions, meet and side by side, lead the procession back to the church. The declaration of the angel is held in a well-decorated stage complete with sound and visual effects. This is equivalent to the Salubong in the Luzon area.


This is Cabatuan's version of Iloilo City's Dinagyang and Kalibo's Atiatihan. It showcases various facets of the unique culture and traditions of Cabatuan. It was started in 1995 to find Cabatuan a place in the tourism map and to highlight the townspeople's ability to transform traditional ceremonies into modernized dances. Courtship and marriage rituals as well as farm dances of the olden days were performed to the music of the modern times.

Hirinugyaw dancers

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Marinated native chicken with quartered potatoes seasoned with onions, ginger, tomato and lemon grass (tanglad), and wrapped in banana leaves. It is served with broth that accumulates inside its wrapping following a heavy steaming. A serving costs P30 at the Leah's Tinuom, a popular weekend destination for city residents and those from neighboring towns. The place is found at the right side of the Cabatuan public market.


Visit your friends in Cabatuan and for sure they will serve you with binakol. The fiesta is also not complete without this. Binakol is chicken cooked in a pot or bamboo node, and mixed with potatoes, ginger, onions, tomatoes, lemon grass, bay leaf and peppercorns. Boiled to perfection, its broth perks up your appetite once blended in rice.

Chicken binakol


These are not political acronyms but another favorite during fiestas in Cabatuan. KBL is kadyos, baboy and langka, while KMU is kadyos, manok and ubad. The preparation for the former consists of pork, kadyos (pigeon peas or black-eyed beans) and green jackfruit, and for the latter, pork is substituted by chicken and jackfruit is substituted by ubad (the core of the banana trunk). Even on ordinary days, Cabatuananons love to serve these dishes because they are not only satisfying but the ingredients are affordable.


Spending an afternoon in Cabatuan is not complete without hearing a vendor cry: "Huwwwwaaaad huwwwaaaad!" This snack consists of glutinous rice mixed with grated coconut and sugar, molded into rolls, steamed and wrapped in banana leaves.

Linupak nga Saging/Linupak nga Balinghoy

One memory that a visitor to the barangays in Cabatuan will surely cherish is the experience of preparing linupak. With the lusong (wooden pestle) and the bayo (wooden mortar), boiled bananas (saging) or cassavas (balinghoy) are pounded to blend with brown sugar until they produce a pudding. It is a satisfying snack for the kids and adults.


Let's face it! Some of those who join the Via Crucis to Balic are not really meditating on the passion of Jesus Christ but they simply to eat ibus after the procession when they drop by a friend's house. This snack is made of glutinous rice cooked inside strips of coconut leaves formed into a tube and tied at the end. They are best served with sugar , ripe mango and native chocolate.



A favorite during the fiesta minatay (All Soul's Day), this dish is made of boiled rice flour with sago, sweet potato (camote), cubed boiled banana, taro and other root crops, and rice balls, stirred with sugar and coconut cream. This is also served during birthdays, mahjong sessions, village meetings and other ordinary occasions.