On my long bus trip from Bacolod to Sipalay to visit Sugar Beach and go scuba diving, I couldn’t help but notice the town church of Hinigaran – dubbed as the “Gateway to Southern Negros” – so I made sure to drop by on my return. Admired from the outside, St. Mary Magdalene Church is a squat and imposing structure sitting right at the edge of the National Highway.
The church was first established in 1848, constructed out of light materials. The building of the stone church we see today began ten years later. Built out of bricks and limestone, the Romanesque-style church is visibly of solid construction, mostly likely in order to withstand volcanic earthquakes from Mt. Kanlaon. The two-meter thick walls of limestone used to build the church were sourced from Guimaras, and the hardwood from Palawan. As with many other churches across the country, forced labor was employed to construct this heritage structure. Laborers were required to render 15 days of work and were only paid 15 centavos, hence the locality on which the church stands is called Kinsehan. The church was completed in 1881.
Since the 1960s, unguided renovations of the church modernized its interior leaving only the facade, walls and belfry intact. The silver retablo (altar) is long gone. Five original church bells dated 1867 and 1896 are now mounted outside next to the church.
How to Get There
Located 50 kilometers south of Bacolod City, Hinigaran can be reached by public bus in one and half hours . Take a bus to Kabankalan or Hinoba-an at the Ceres Southbound Terminal at Luzuriaga St, and ask the driver or conductor to drop you off at Hinigaran Church.
Where to Eat
Locals highly recommended eating at Mila’s Restaurant (Tel. +63 34 3917849) located along the National Highway, next to the public plaza. They had delicious and great-value breakfast meals like carne fritas for PHP 75. But the restaurant better known for their sweet offerings like their sponge cake-like version of bibingka (rice cake), buko pie (coconut pie) and potato cake.
Where to Stay
If you need to spend the night in Hinigaran like I did, check out Ester Ken Tourist Inn (Tel. +63 34 3917529), located along the National Highway. Room rates start at PHP 385 (per 24 hours) for a fan double.