What Were They Thinking: A strange sight in Jaro Plaza

November 25, 2020



Judith Torres

Across the Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady of the Candles in Jaro, Iloilo, is a plaza where the cathedral’s belfry stands. Mature acacia trees form canopies over the little park, which has been named Graciano Lopez Jaena Park, in honor of the revolutionary from Jaro who in the late 1800s was a leading propagandist against the abuses of colonial Spain. 

After photographing the cathedral and its belfry (featured in BluPrint Vol. 3, 2011), and the nearby police station, which was formerly Jaro’s city hall and believed to have been designed by master architect Juan Arellano (featured in BluPrint Special 1, 2011), our team decided to cool our heels in the shady park. 

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We walked around a little bit, taking in the monument of Jaena; an obelisk commemorating the courageous members of the Free Panay Guerilla Forces who died valorously fighting the Japanese in World War II; and the plaza’s gaily colored—pink—bandstand. 

Jaro Plaza Iloilo City - A sacred statue enclosed in a cage
The sacred statue is in a cage, which for safe measure, is enclosed within a fence

Then, we chanced upon what looked like an aviary and approached it to get a closer look at its resident that bore blue and white plumage. Mamma mia! It was an image of Mama Mary. Asked to explain why the Madonna was encaged, a guard at the park said that some years before, when water would spring near the foot of the statue, some people would bathe themselves in the muddy puddle, in the belief that the water had miraculous healing powers. Scandalized Jaroanons who sought to put a stop to the practice, but did not wish to deprive believers of their idol, put the statue behind bars. 

This article first appeared in BluPrint Special Issue 3 2011. Edits were made for BluPrint online. 

READ MORE: What Were They Thinking: Neo-classical elements out of context


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