The Molo Church is one of the most familiar landmarks of Iloilo. Built in 1831, the church stands as a reminder of Iloilo’s rich history and a monument for Ilonggo artistry. The Molo exudes a blatant expression of Gothic-Renaissance architecture, the one of its kind outside Manila. The interior is a fusion of Gothic and Romanesque architectures, there is a constant alternation between the overpowering features of Gothic and the recessive characteristics of Romanesque.
The interior is rich in Gothic elements. There are five gothic altars which are made of wood while beautiful paintings dominate the walls. Female Saints Stand on each pillar and a pair of interestingly decorated pulpits contrast the entire structure. The Spires of Molo are yet the most interesting colonial “skyscrapers” in Iloilo City aside from the neoclassic Belfry of Jaro.
text from Lingganay, collection of Iloilo’s Heritage Churches
Women wanting to be empowered by the graces of women saints have a place in Molo Church. This Molo Church made of coral rocks (affixed with a mortar made from egg whites mixed with sand) earned the moniker “women’s church” because of the presence of 16 images of women saints inside. The centerpiece in the retablo is the image of Sta. Ana, the patron saint of Molo.
It is said that in August 4, 1886, Dr. Jose Rizal, on his way back to Manila from his exile in Dapitan, passed by the church to pray and view its collection of biblical paintings, which is no longer extant.
Molo church is very sturdy and has survived fires, earthquakes, and artillery barrages in 1945. Molo church was made as an evacuation center for the civilians during WWII. One tower is said to have been destroyed by the Americans after suspecting it was used for military purposes by the Japanese during the Second World War. The bells still bear the scars of bullets shot at Philippine resistance fighters in the second world war. The National Historical Institute declared it a national landmark in 1992.
Infront of the Molo Church is the district plaza and its bandstand, a typical feature of old Spanish-colonial towns in Iloilo. This magnificent structure is best seen during the late afternoon when the coral stone facade of the church reflects the soft golden rays of the sunset.
How to get to Molo Church
Molo Church is located within the plaza area of Molo district. It is very accessible from anywhere in Iloilo City by taxi. All jeepneys with “Molo” in its sign board and most “Villa / Arevalo” jeepneys with pass by the Molo Church. You can catch there jeepneys at the “stoplight / flyover” intersection, along General Luna St., Valeria St., or Ledesma St. in Iloilo City Proper.