Fortified with our lunch, we went back in the direction of the city just 20 minutes away from San Joaquin for the world renowned religious structure and now a UNESCO Heritage Site, Miagao Church. It is our 2nd stop for our Southern Iloilo Heritage Trail and cannot be missed as it sits majestically right by the road as you enter the town.
Built over 200 years ago in 1787, it is made with limestone that casts a warm golden yellow and light- brown color. The design is predominantly Baroque-Romanesque mixed in with local artistic elements. The differing watchtower belfries were commissioned by different parish priest (which explains its dissimilarity). The belfries flanks the facade adorned with carvings of coconut trees which symbolizes the tree of life. The image of St. Christopher in a tropical forest carrying the baby Jesus on its shoulder is also carved at the upper part of the exterior, while right above the door is a large stone image of St. Thomas Villanueva, the parish patron saint. The main entrance is guarded by the images of the Pope and St. Henry. Other images depicts the Miaganons local way of life.
Miagao church also called as the Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva is not just a place for worship. Its fortress-like design serves a dual purpose as it was used as a place of worship and as a fort in defending the town against moro raiders in the old days. The 1.5 meter thick walls although made from limestone glued together with egg whites since there was no cement yet at that time did look like it could withstand any kind of attack!
While the exterior is elaborate, the interior in contrast is simple but highlighted with a gold plated altar and filled with sunlight streaming in the stained glass window.
This church is indeed a true architectural gem making it also one of the most photographed religious frameworks. You shouldn’t miss this when in Iloilo even if you’re a non-religious like us.
This is only Part 2 of the Southern Heritage Trail, our final stop is a 400 YEAR OLD CHURCH PLUS ANOTHER UNIQUE STRUCTURE.
written by kim