The first sight we’ll feature from the new satellite imagery added by Google last May 13 is the Jaro Belfry, located along E. Lopez St. in the district of Jaro in Iloilo City. This belfry, affectionately called the kampanario by the locals, is associated with the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral across the street to the southwest. The cathedral is the seat of the Archdiocese of Jaro, which covers the provinces of Iloilo and Guimaras and has Antique and Negros Occidental as associated diocesan areas.
The Jaro Belfry is designated as a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Institute and is the major landmark of Jaro Plaza. The belfry was built in around 1744 (a different source says 1864) and is one of the oldest structures in Iloilo City. During the Spanish Era, the belfry was used as a watchtower (like many other belltowers) and stands 29 meters high with three stories. The belfry was damaged a few times by earthquakes the latest being in 1948 during an earthquake (nicknamed the Lady Caycay) that shook the whole island of Panay (see this photo of the collapsed belfry). Reconstruction was taken every time the belfry was damaged and finally, the National Historical Institute undertook a restoration in around the 1990s.
The Jaro Belfry is one of the few belltowers in the country that stands alone from its church. We have actually already seen two such belltowers in Vista Pinas before: the Sinking Bell Tower of Laoag and the belltower of Paoay Church. Among the three, I like the Paoay’s belfry the most.