The old, historic Church of San Jose Placer, Plaza Libertad, Iloilo City

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Information about The old, historic Church of San Jose Placer, Plaza Libertad, Iloilo City

Published on March 1, 2014

Author: senorfrog



A visit to the old and historic Church of San Jose de Placer on Plaza Libertad in downtown Iloilo City. From the founding of the first Chapel by the Jesuits in the early 1600s to the present day. With the story of the Church primary treasure the Statue of Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.

San José Placer Church Plaza Libertad Iloilo City, Iloilo 1

The driving distance from our jumping off point at the SM City parking lot in Iloilo to San José Placer Church at Plaza Libertad in downtown Iloilo City is approximately 10 kilometres. Which translates into a driving time of between 30 to 40 minutes in City traffic. HERITAGE RATING: This Heritage Rating indicates that the site visited has: “GOOD HERITAGE INTEREST” Our Heritage Ratings are NOT a reflection of the quality of the attraction, nor a review of the visit! They are a very subjective assessment of the historic interest of the specific location or attraction. We only assign a rating to Churches, historic buildings & locations that we have actually visited & reported on for either of our websites or 2


Church of San José Placer, from Plaza Libertad, Iloilo City 1928 4

A very brief history of the area. In 1566 as the Spanish conquest of the Philippines was underway and moving north toward Manila, the Spaniards under Miguel López de Legazpi came to Panay and established a settlement in Ogtong ( Oton ). In 1581 Ronquillo moved the town center approximately 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) east due to recurrent raids by Moro pirates and Dutch and English privateers, and renamed the area La Villa de Arevalo in honour of his hometown in Ávila, Spain. In 1700, due to ever-increasing raids especially from the Dutch and the Moros, the Spaniards again moved their seat of power some 25 kilometres (16 miles) eastward to the village of Irong-Irong (previously called Estanzuela), which had a natural and strategic defence against raids and where, at the mouth of the river that snakes through Panay, they built Fort San Pedro to better guard against the raids which were now the only threat to the Spaniards' hold on the islands. Irong-Irong or Ilong-Ilong was shortened to Iloilo and with its natural port quickly became the capital of the province. 5

Native of Visayan origin 1590 6

In about 1607, the Jesuits, built a small chapel to serve the newest settlement named Estanzuela and it was to be the foundation of the San José Placer Church and Parish. ‘Internal’ Church politics saw the parish change hands frequently over the years. When the Jesuits were expelled from the Philippines in 1768, the Dominicans took over for a few years and the Parish was transferred to the Diocese in 1775 until 1868 when the Augustinians took it over. The original ‘chapel’ had been built of light materials – bamboo etc…Friar Mauricio Blanco, the first Prior of Iloilo, named in 1873 started to restore and expand the original Chapel. He later, laid the foundations of the new Church using stone and brick. The original concept was to build a church in the Byzantine architectural tradition including three naves and a transcept. 7


Friar Blanco finally completed the church in about 1885 and in fact started to add two belfries in 1893 using several hundred labourers. They added a clock and a barometer to the towers and began the construction of the Convento. 9


The Convento, dating to the mid-1890s 11

The Convento, dating to the mid-1890s 12

The primary treasure of the San José Church is the Statue of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. According to tradition, it all began on the night of September 30, 1616 when the statue of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary was discovered among the debris of the Real Fuerza de San Pedro or the fort by Don Diego Quiñones after a hard won battle against the Dutch. Quiñones was the Spanish leader of a group of Filipino and Spanish soldiers who built the fort, and who defended it from the determined attack of “very large” Dutch force. Two Augustinian missionaries, Friar Juan de Morales and Friar Jeronimo Arevalo, were present during the attack, and they inspired the soldiers' morale and spirit. It must be noted that the Dutch at that time were interested in occupying the Philippines and driving out the Spaniards. Three days of “unequal and rigorous fighting” eventually led the Dutch to retreat leaving behind 80 dead and 100 wounded. The victory of Quiñones and his men was taken as “a good sign of success” for future battles. This was further reinforced with the discovery of the image after the Dutch had left and the defenders took stock of the destruction in the fort. 13

Soon after, Fr. Morales and Fr. Arevalo, with the permission of the Spanish alcaldemayor, constructed a post in which they displayed the statue of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary and brought to a chapel in the fortress. The newly-found statue was immediately venerated and soon proclaimed as patron mediatrix of Iloilo. For the past three centuries, commitment and zeal towards the statue grew. To the surprise of the city population, devotions to the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary spread all over Panay and Negros until pilgrims from different parts of the country flocked and paid homage to it. Today, the replica of the image of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary stands proud in Fort San Pedro. At the base of the statue, there is an inscription that reads: This monument stands as a memento of the historic finding of the miraculous Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in Fort San Pedro by Captain Diego Quiñones and his FilipinoSpanish soldiers on September 30, 1616. It was constructed by the Iloilo devotees over the occasion of the solemn coronation of the Holy Image on October 11, 1970. The holy image is enshrined and venerated at the San Jose Parish Church, Plaza Libertad, Iloilo City. 14














The Black Nazarene 28

The Black Nazarene 29

The Black Nazarene 30











New Iloilo City Hall, facing Plaza Libertad 41







A historical locomotive from the Old Panay Railway used in the sugar industry on display in Plaza Libertad 48




Assessor: Purchase of Ker lot beneficial to city Wednesday, February 12, 2014 (A Report from Sun Star, Iloilo) ILOILO City Assessor Nelson Parreño, who was recently awarded as the most outstanding city assessor of the country, branded the proposed purchase of a lot adjoining the Iloilo City Hall as beneficial to the city. Parreño said the planned purchase of a 3,063-square-meter lot owned by British firm Ker and Co. at P35 million is a good buy, considering the cost and market value of the lot located in a prime area. The City Assessor Office has appraised the lot at P11,000 per square meter based on the 2006 appraised value, which the lot in question would cost at P36.35 million. But the Department of Finance has mandated the general revision of real properties for purposes of taxation in every three years. However, the City Government did not pushed through with the revision in 2009 due to destruction caused by Typhoon Frank. The City Assessor’s Office is set to implement the general revision of appraised value of real properties starting 2015 upon approval of the City Council. 52

The proposed revision of the lot’s appraised value would then P15,000 per square meter or about P45.9 million, as the revised market value of lots along JM Basa to Muelle Loney is P15,000 per square meter. Parreño said it is highly beneficial to the City Government to buy the lot now with installment payment than wait for 2015 with a new revised appraised value. Last week, Ker and Co. President Virgilio Cruz and Iloilo Manager Roger Aguilar paid a visit to Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog to offer the lot and discuss the terms and conditions of the purchase. Ker and Co. lowered the lot price from P50 million to P35 million. Mabilog said he is intended to put up an Executive House, city gallery and a parking lot at the Ker lot. However, the heritage design of the existing building, used to be a trading office, will remain, as the building is already more than 75 years old. (LCP) 53

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