Among the eight artistically significant colonial cemeteries in Iloilo, I deduced that Oton cemetery is the oldest, probably built in the early or mid-19th cetury. From the exterior, it does not appear to have been from the Spanish period. The obvious proof of its colonial origin is found some 30 meters from the entrance. It is a circular stone capilla with three entrance openings above which are identical decorations consisting of skull-and-crossbones and narrow brick urns half-embedded onto the stone. Inscribed onto rectangular wooden boards above either side entrance are inscriptions in Hiligaynon (the Ilonggo language): Sa Dios magdayao ang mga tol-an sang mga nagpaubus sining cabuhi. (The bones of those who humbled themselves in life glorify the Lord).

The roofing of this more than a century-old capilla would have been very, very special. Among the eight, it is the only capilla that had brick roof tiles (tejas). These tejas used to be its greatest asset. I say used to because all of those antique tejas were thoughtlessly thrown away sometime in 1996 and replaced with a cement slab roof in rough finish. Now, that’s what I call a truly “concrete evidence.”