A Visit to Paoay Church

Jul 20, 2012

Paoay Church In Ilocos Norte
One of the places that I have always wanted to see is the Paoay Church (or St. Agustin Church) in Ilocos Norte. It is one of the four Baroque churches of the Philippines in the Unesco World Heritage Sites, along with the San Agustin Church in Manila, Church of La Nuestra SeƱora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur and Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva in Miag-ao, Iloilo.  After seeing the beautiful churches of Bohol, I want to see the complete list.  And I was awed by how beautiful the church and the bell tower looks!   The marker below says that the Augustinian missionaries started building the church in 1704 and it is indeed  a miracle that we can still marvel at its beauty until now.  The bell tower, which stands a few meters  from the church played an important role during the war in 1898.
Church marker
The pillars on the side of the church, known as buttresses, all 24 of them,  makes the church the most outstanding example of Earthquake Baroque architectural style.I was dwarfed by the sheer size of those buttresses.
side of the church

Just looking at them made me feel that I was in some other country because of the similarity on the design of the church to other architectural structure there, like the Borobudur monument in Indonesia  or the Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
massive buttresses
Unfortunately, while the facade of the church looks very magnificent, the inside of the church looks almost bare and empty.  I was expecting a grander altar or beautifully painted ceilings like the churches in Bohol, but I was disappointed.  Only now did I learn that the roof, which now looked like iron roof sheets used to be thatched roofs that were perfect for escape form fire or earthquakes. While we visited the church at noon, I saw no one inside, save for what looked like a caretaker. I just hope that on Sundays and feast days, the church gets its magnificent share of worshipers so that it can live up to its name of a grand and marvelous church.  Still, visiting the Paoay Church was a very educational and pleasant experience and I am happy to have been given the chance to see it.

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