It was surprising that even though Iligan City is considered to be one of the oldest Christian settlements in the country, the usual old stone church is very much missing from its bustling streets. But not to disappoint, they have something else entirely. And it is in pink. In unabashedly hot pink. The Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel.
The air was festive with music coming from live bands playing in the plaza as we roamed around the streets of Iligan. It was the month of September and it’s usually the time when the city is at its most festive; the Iliganons are celebrating their Diyandi Festival. A fiesta dedicated to the city’s patron, St. Michael the Archangel.
Our feet eventually led us to the said archangel. We found the statue of St. Michael; holding a spear in his right hand, thrusting it down the devil below his feet, right above Iligan City’s iconic cathedral. It is comforting to see this sight again, being more familiar with a reversed version of the St. Michael icon in my hometown’s cemetery. But I digress, that’s another story altogether.
It took me a couple of seconds before the unapologetic pinkness of Iligan’s church totally sunk in. I haven’t seen a church, let alone a cathedral with such a dandy color. It was so pink, Baguio City’s own pink cathedral would probably blush in shame. Not that it’s bad or ugly, it’s just—different.
The cathedral has a very modern cube-like architecture which is really quite interesting too. Somehow I can see echoes of Le Corbusierian leanings in its clean lines and curves. I read that it was built during the 1960’s, a period where modern architecture was just taking root in the country.
Its interior however has a more traditional appearance than its facade. Gone is the pink color, whites and muted hues rule here. If you ask me, I would have preferred that its interior reflect the color of its exterior. Old rose pinks with immaculate whites; now there’s a color you don’t see everyday inside house of worships. The architectural statement it would create would just be phenomenal.
But even without those hues, the interiors of the St. Michael Cathedral is a feast for the eyes too; the ceilings especially. I love how intricate they are with its complicated rhythm of curves. It didn’t even have to resort to the usual classical motifs that so often besiege newer, and dare I say characterless, churches in the Philippines.
But similarly, step outside and you’d find an assortment of vendors hawking all sorts of thingamajigs. What I immediately looked for is—what else—street food! And I wasn’t disappointed; finding something different in Iligan City’s streets. I immediately asked a helping of their fish rolls.
At the back of St. Michael church, one can also avail the foot therapy being provided by a group of ladies from the area. We got a chance to try it out after a whole day of chasing waterfalls. Most of the non-Iliganons in the group were quite excited since it was our chance to finally relax. But it was not quite the soothing massage we were expecting; I guess you’d have to try it out for yourself to know what I’m talking about.
Like the relatively nearby Ozamiz Cathedral, Iligan City’s own St. Michael Cathedral cannot boast of extensive and colorful history nor can it brag about centuries old stone walls. It is a modern church without the trappings of times past. But indeed, one cannot produce what it doesn’t have. Instead, it builds on its modernity. And through it, formed one of the most unique churches I’ve seen in the Philippines.
St. Michael the Archangel Cathedral
Address: Quezon Avenue, Brgy. Poblacion, Iligan City
Contact Number: (063) 221-5325
Mass Schedule: Click Here
GPS Coordinates: +8° 13' 45.47", +124° 14' 22.07"
View Location on Google Maps