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Miag-ao Church


It's a 35-minute drive from Iloilo City proper to Miag-ao along well paved roads. We left the city around five in the afternoon and arrived in Miag-ao just after sunset. I've had to filter these photos as it was too dark to get any clear images.

Miag-ao Catholic Church or the Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It was completed in 1797 and ravaged during the 1898 Philippine revolution against Spain, during World War II and again during the 1948 earthquake. The walls, the belfries and the facade are all that is left of the original structure.  Miag-ao Church is a fine example of colonial Baroque.


The facade of the Church is of yellow ocher limestone which was quarried from nearby mountains. It is decorated in high relief with a palm tree on the top and center of the triangular frame. St. Christopher with the child Jesus on his shoulder is under the palm tree and they are surrounded by indigenous flora. In the niche below St. Christopher is the town's patron saint, St. Thomas. The Church is flanked by two belfries of varying heights and which were built in 1854. An earthquake in 1880 destroyed the original north tower.


The massive walls of the Church measure 1 1/2 meters thick, rises 11 meters high and are of sandstone material. It is supported by buttresses that taper at the top. These walls were built as fortifications against further advances by Muslim pirates who attacked the town in 1741 and 1754.

The Church was closed for the evening so we missed seeing the retablo. It will be the subject of a future post.

Retracing our ride back to Iloilo City, we stopped at Tatoy's Manokan and Seafoods Restaurant in the Villa district to try their famous chicken. I didn't find the native lechon manok (chicken) to be anything special but it was good to check out what the hype was all about.  All the other entreés we ordered were fine. There's a new Tatoy's branch in Santa Barbara just outside the international airport.  

We stayed at the Smallville21 Hotel in Mandurriao. This is an area of restaurants, cafés, karaoke bars and discos. It was Saturday night, party night. We could hear the loud music from the bars below to the wee hours of morning. We begged for a room away from the main street but all the quiet rooms sold out early in the day. If you love the nightlife, then this area is for you. 

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Images by Charie

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