Monday, February 10, 2014

Philippines - Paoay Church

Paoay is a small town about an hour plus from Laoag City and not exactly in the tourist radar. Yet, this little place was the very reason why I flew to Laoag City to begin with for here in Paoay, an UNESCO Heritage Site can be found in the form of Paoay Church.

Paoay Church, an UNESCO Heritage Site

The Church of Saint Augustine, or commonly known as Paoay Church, is one of the four churches in Philippines listed under UNESCO Heritage Site. Grouped as the Baroque Churches of the Philippines, these churches have unique architectures, the localized version of the European Baroque architectures. 

After my visit at Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, I took a bus to Paoay, which was about an hour and a half ride. The bus stopped rather close to the the church, which was beneficial to me. I could see the bell tower from where I got off. 

The bell tower from afar

Once I was within close proximity to the church, I noticed something about it. It is massive. Paoay Church is not some small town church but a grand dame, commanding attentions from afar. 

One of the significant feature of the church - in fact, all the four churches listed as the UNESCO Heritage Site - is of its thick side walls. Destructive earthquakes during the 17th and 18th centuries, when the church was erected, influenced such decisions. Enormous buttresses on the side and back walls can be seen to provide supports during shaking. 

Thick walls to provide supports

Bell tower is lower and stouter in design

Another unique feature is that the church proportion is lower and wider. Paoay Church's bell tower is also designed accordingly, being lower and stouter. All these interpretations of European Baroque architecture are famous in places prone to earthquakes like Philippines and Guatemala. Hence, it is also known as the Earthquake Baroque architecture. 

Even with the whole "Mother Nature takes over" look, Paoay Church is still very much a local church, one that is still in use. Instead of being just a piece of heritage, the church remains a holy site to many as the locals still do their prayers here. The interior is simple yet majestic. 

The interior

One of the many Christ-related figurines on the wall

It has not been a waste of time going to Paoay purely for the church. I got to see such a massive structure, old it may be, still very much in the hearts of the locals.


Sharing is caring. A word of advice and a piece of information.

Besides Paoay Church, another famous spot is the Paoay Lake. According to the legend, the lake used to be a prosperous town but due to the locals' materialism, God was angry and sank the town with an earthquake. Nearby the lake is the Malacanang of the North, a mansion that belongs to the Ferdinand Marcos, the 10th President of the Philippines. There is also the Paoay Sand Dunes if you are into thrilling adventures. Full disclosure, I did not go to any of these sites as I spent to much time wandering around Paoay Church.


  1. I love the design. It has a European feel in it actually.

  2. I find the churches in Philippines resemble those in the Europe. I really enjoy exploring their churches...

  3. Havent set foot in PH yet, pending 2 ctres for SEATH - TW and PH... sigh...

    They look similar to those in Goa (am yet to blog, sigh....), prob because they are from the same era + same country - Portugal!

  4. What SEATH stands for? South East Asia T*** H***???

    Technically, Philippines is under Spain though Portugal and Spain are neighbouring countries...