TRAVEL: Miagao Church Ilo Ilo Philippines

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Good day. Today, let me take you to one of the most beautiful churches I've seen in Ilo-Ilo, a humble province from the Panay islands in the Visayas region: the Miagao Church.

The Simbahan ng Miagao is very popular because of its exquisite stone/marble wall carvings. As you can see in the photo below, the very facade of the church features details beyond my imagination. The design, which emphasizes the coconut tree is a topic of lore. Check out this Wikipedia info.

The Miag-ao Church was built in 1786 by Spanish Augustinian missionaries and was declared as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Baroque Churches of the Philippines" in 1993. On the front facade, which is flanked by two watchtower belfries, one can see the unique blending of Spanish and native influences.

The central feature of the bas-relief facade is a large coconut tree which reaches almost to the apex. While an integral part of the Philippine landscape, the coconut tree is also the subject of lore. According to an old Philippine legend, the coconut tree was the only bequest from a loving mother to her two children, a tree which sustained them for life. On the church's facade the coconut tree appears as the "tree of life" to which St. Christopher carrying the Child Jesus on his shoulder is clinging to. The lesser facades feature the daily life of Miagaowanons during the time. Also depicted are other native flora and fauna, as well as native dress.

The church and its watchtowers were also built to defend the town and its people against raids by the Moros. It therefore has thick walls and, reportedly, secret passages. Indeed stretching along the Iloilo coast are defensive towers, but none that equal the size of the Miag-ao. It is because of this defensive purpose that it is sometimes referred to as the Miag-ao Fortress Church.

If you don't trust Wikipedia as much as I do, here's the official information on the church.

Personally, what I enjoyed most about the church is its textured walls. Well, not that it was "texturized" for the sake of aesthetics, haha, but I really like how pretty and warm the stone walls are to photograph.

The sides of the church is also very monumental for me! I can imagine Spanish Colonial lovers sneaking a kiss here, hehe. Much like Romeo and Juliet.

Other than the coconut tree carvings, the Miagao Church also has two quality stone sculptures that I hope would be preserved for a long time! However, in case the environment gets to it, here's a photograph to help preserve it.
The Little Prince?

Now to take you inside the Church. Here's a very delicate statue, must be really old cause it's now housed in its own glass case.

Inside the prayer room.

My confession is... I know it seems that with all these photos I acted all touristy, but just to let you know. I'm a very respectful tourist. I only took photos of the Church and areas of the Church where there isn't anyone in prayer. It is for this reason that I only photographed, I think 5 out of 7 churches we went to for my family's Visita Iglesia. The Miagao church is the second church we visited.

Despite the raging sun outside, it was very cool and relaxing inside the church! Gotta love structures made purely of stone. Now off outside I go. Til the next Church!

FYI a Visita Iglesia is a Semana Santa tradition where one visits seven different churches consecutively to pray. As I've mentioned, this is the second church we visited. :) To know about the first one, which is a church older than Miagao, please visit this link.

How about you? Any fabulous architecture you've been to? Share through the comments.

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  1. Very pretty (flowers and statues)! The Church does look like a fortress. Isn't it amazing how things get attacked, destroyed, rebuilt over and over?

    1. hi Jenni! Yes, i think among all the churches I got visit during my trip, this one's the prettiest as it's both manly (fortress like) but feminine (carvings and flowers/color too!). I'm amazed by how the church is kept. I've always assumed that since Philippines isn't really first world, most funds go to developing other areas like education etc; but I guess because our country is very devout (I think), the Church can generate its own hefty fund! :D

    2. "First world" or not, I think it depends on the priorities of world leaders, faith leaders and perhaps to a lesser extent, followers where funds go. In the U.S. we are thought of as first world, but you wouldn't think that if you looked at our health care system and declining educational performance, in some angles we look third world.

      What about France, first world, perhaps, and so many many beautiful catholic churches, chateaus etc, but their people suffered, starved and endured many wars.... another example, looks good on the outside, look deeper and there are a lot of problems.

    3. That's so true! I can only rely on stories and what I get to read but sometimes a country's status is not really the people's situation. Like, you can live in a first world country but it doesn't really mean you're enjoying such a comfortable life.

      I'm just happy that somehow, there are beautiful places like our Churches for us to see. I think it gives a little sense of hope. I think anything beautiful has power to give a sense of hope.

  2. everything is so beautiful! lovely photos! the sides of the church is my fave!

    1. Thank you so much! I tried my best to get good photos!


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