15. January 2009

Miag-ao Church, Iloilo

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site trip and this is the Miag-ao Church in Iloilo. The starting point of my trip is in Iloilo supermarket which is located at the back of the Robinson Place Iloilo. Beside the Iloilo supermarket you will see the terminal station and you will be riding the jeepney going to Miag-ao (Fare is 60 PHP). The travel time is approximately 1 hour to 1 hour and 30min. The jeepney will just drop you right in front of the church so you don’t need to worry.

I’m really fascinated with the church facade. The yellowish color of the church makes it more attractive.

Miag-ao Church Front ViewMiag-ao Church FacadeMiag-ao Church Front Wall SculptMiag-ao Church SideviewMiag-ao Church WindowMiag-ao ChurchMiag-ao Church Altar

Useful Facts:

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.

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