Just like San Joaquin Cemetery and among other historical sites of Iloilo, Janiuay Cemetery can also be found along the main road. For numbers Ilonggos, the town of Janiuay is connoted with its grand Filipino-Hispano cemetery. This cemetery became part of the diverse Spanish colonial sites of this history-rich province.
Inaugurated in 1884, Janiuay cemetery, pronounce as "ha-nee-wai" was tagged as the most artistic cemetery in the country. The construction of the cemetery was led by Augustinian friar Fernando Llorente, he who also was the head of town of Dingle, where there is also a stone colonial cemetery constructed. The inauguration was such a grand affair which was attended by the Archbishop of Manila, Pedro Payo, who blessed the said cemetery.
The Janiuay Cemetery lies on a one-hectare tract of land. It was built on the top of the hill that made it more grand with provision of 3 flight of staircases that leads dramatically to 3 arched entrances. . Entrances are made up of three grand Tudor arches. The area is fenced by steel supported by circular stone columns.
Of course, the main attraction of the cemetery was its octagonal capilla, which is now grown with some plants and shrubs. Despite the obvious degradation of the chapel, it remains stunning- with its pyramidal roof, tracery openings and spires on every corners that magnify the Gothic features. It serves as the masterpiece of the cemetery that I thought was a standard pattern of site development planning of province's old cemeteries. That would have been the final place of vigils and services for the dead.
The cemetery perimeter is surrounded by stone and wrought iron fences.
Said that both Ilongos and artisans from Manila who have worked in the chapels interior. While the windows and main door has a lancet-shaped arches with intricate stone-carvings on sides, that highlighted its Neo-Gothic style.
At present, Janiuay Cemetery is only now but a shadow of Ilongos' values for their departed love ones. The once gleaming limestone blocks are now badly weathered. Some parts like the stone statues and other are now have long gone. Nevertheless, walking up to its majestic stairs while looking in its facade, and glancing around on its capilla is still a must-do-experience when you have time to visit the province.
How to get there
From Iloilo City, to reach the town of Janiuay, one has to take jeepneys that are available in Centraline Terminal fronting Christ the King Memorial Park in Jaro District of Iloilo City. You have have an option of riding air-conditioned vans that are also available in the terminal.
Janiuay Cemetery was once featured in National Geographic Magazine.
Stone blocks that used in construction of the said cemetery was quarried all the way from the distant Town of Dingle and was hauled with the help of our beast of burden-- the carabaos.