LANAO DEL NORTE | That Hot Pink Cathedral of Iligan City

Thursday, October 03, 2013

At Iligan City's Pink Cathedral

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. Iligan City’s Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel.

Diyandi Festival at Iligan City

The air was festive with music coming from live bands playing in the plaza as we roamed 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.


St. Michael the Archangel at Iligan City's Pink Cathedral

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 the Demon of Malabon, a reversed version of the St. Michael statue in my hometown’s cemetery. But I digress, that’s another story altogether.

Lines and Curves at Iligan City's Pink Cathedral

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’s so pink, the pink Baguio Cathedral would probably blush in shame. Not that it’s bad or ugly, it’s just—different.


The Belfry at Iligan City's Pink Cathedral

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 1960s, a period where modern architecture was just taking root in the Philippines.

Traditional Church Interior at Iligan City's Pink Cathedral

Its interior however has a more traditional appearance than its façade. 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.


Intricate Ceiling at Iligan City's Pink Cathedral

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.

Streetfood at Iligan City's Pink Cathedral

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.

Foot Therapy at Iligan City's Pink Cathedral

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, but more of the local hilot. I guess you’d have to try it out for yourself to know what I’m talking about.

The Altar at Iligan City's Pink Cathedral

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 | (063) 221-3285
Mass Schedule: Click Here
GPS Coordinates Map: 8.229298, 124.239465


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  1. I used to be a very cute and nice acolyte (sakristan) here. :D

  2. That color is very eyecatching, to say the least. :p

    Love the interior, though, and the Orthodox icon crucifix outside.

  3. nice, though I would NOT want to associate 'hot' with St.Michael's. no offense pero hot has negative connotations in today's world. more with sensuality.

    also, this is a well-written piece no doubt, but calling other churches CHARACTERLESS is way out of character for a Catholic believer.

    I have strong feelings for this cathedral, I am in Cebu now, but I was baptized here.

  4. The Jesuits had been in the Iligan area since the early 1600s and a fort, named after the Jesuit saint Francis Xavier, was built in 1642. One would expect at least a chapel to have been built around this time and inside the fort. This first fort was washed away--and the settlement at the mouth of the Iligan river---in one of the notorious floods of the river. A wooden church was built inside a new fort---Fort Victoria---in the middle part of the 1800s. All throughout this time Iligan had remained a garrison town way until the arrival of the Americans in 1900. The population was so small, hardly meriting a stone church in tradition perhaps of churches in nearby Bohol. A new wooden church was in the works towards the end of the 1890s but then again frequent Moro attacks necessitated use of the timber intended for the church for military purposes. Meanwhile, a temporary wooden church was built just outside Fort Victoria and across the plaza. Again, constant flooding took a toll upon this structure such that by around the 1920s this was totally abandoned and another wooden (presumably temporary too) structure was built in what is now the BDO building across St. Michael's College on Quezon Avenue. The basic cement structure of the present church was completed in 1958 and the improvement of the interiors began just around the time of the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of St. Michael's parish in 1834.