Heritage, Luzon, Philippines

Paoay Church: A UNESCO World Heritage Site in Ilocos Norte

Heat is unforgiving during summer in the Philippines. And what more if you’re in the Ilocos Region?

We were hesitant to go out of the van when we arrived at the parking lot. But we all knew that the church that we were about to explore is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And knowing its rich culture and history, who wouldn’t want to witness its grandeur?

I am talking about the St. Agustine Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte, also known as Paoay Church among travelers. It was built and completed on 1710 by Augustinian friars led by Father Antonio Estavillo after two decades of construction.

Paoay church was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 as one of the Baroque Style Churches in the Philippines. This is known for its intricate architecture with its huge buttresses on the sides of the church used as a support against earthquake.

When we got off the van, our initial thinking was to hurriedly get inside the church. We just couldn’t stand the scorching summer heat that time. Before we even get inside the side door, I couldn’t help but look at those walls. The church’s walls were made of large coral stone, imagine that? This just shows the art and effort of creating this massive structure.

It was also impossible not to notice the Bell Tower which is a three story structure also made from coral stone, that served as observatory post of Filipino revolutionaries or Katipuneros during the 1898 revolution against Spaniards.

Paoay Church Ilocos Norte Unesco World Heritage Site

Of course, if some of my co-travelers at that time were still resting inside the church, I knew that I had to go to the facade. It was obvious, that I was the most excited!

The heat from the sun was just painful to the skin, but I didn’t mind that. It was a rare moment and opportunity to witness and take some photos of the this UNESCO Heritage site.

Honestly, there is no right word to describe Paoay Church especially once you see it before your eyes. It’s grand, beautiful and I think you would only understand when you get a chance to see it yourself.

Paoay Church Ilocos Norte Unesco World Heritage Site

So when I was busy taking photos of the church’s façade, somebody called my name and I was surprised to see Bong our van driver. He said, do you want me to take picture of you? (in tagalog)

I said, of course. Who wouldn’t want that? I was just expecting to have some selfies of the church and now I had a chance to get a full photo? So I just did some usual posing in front of the church and when I was about to thank him, he suddenly told me he had an idea for a good picture of me.

My mind was saying, “Uh oh..” Haha!

Then it was like he was instantly transformed into a director or a professional photographer. He instructed me to stand still on one side and then told me to raise my right arm and put my palm at the back of my head. What?! Haha!

Bong told me to just follow his instructions and stop complaining.

“just look from afar.”  He said.

That almost made me laugh. He said “just look from afar and then act as if you’re waiting for someone.” And then what he said next finally made me burst into laughter. “Konting pa-kyut naman sir.” (act cute) Haha!

He advised me many times to not give a shit about what other tourists would think. If I saw someone looking or laughing just ignore. Wow! Nice advice. I have to be honest, it was really awkward, funny but I followed his instructions. “Just pose, don’t give a shit.” Haha!

It took a few minutes of more posing and readjustment of my arms to look s if I was leaning on the church before Bong said that he got the right photo. And when he showed it to me, lo and behold, I was impressed. Haha! It’s unusual for me to participate in this kind to photo op or pictorial so this photo is rare Haha! Look. 🙂

Paoay Church Ilocos Norte Unesco World Heritage Site
Feeling Model? Hahaha!

After that my friends and co-travelers arrived and I was proud to show them my photo. Haha!

Paoay Church was a nice experience for me. It’s just fascinating to visit this site that has so much story and culture, making you realize how time has changed but some structures have stood the test of time.

It makes you appreciate more your culture and arts. Paoay church is one of the most beautiful churches I’ve seen in the Philippines and this is also where I got one of the most fun picture of me. Up until now, looking at the photo, still makes me puke haha! SMILE.