Depending on the amount of planning involved, some of my Lakwatsas are divided into two kinds… the planned and the accidental. This particular trip to the iconic Miagao Church was half-half. While researching about things to see in Iloilo while we were down for the Dinagyang Festival, I came across a write up on Miagao Church in the ExploreIloilo.com website. However, despite reading up on it, I really had no plans of going here due to its distance from Iloilo City as you can see from the map below.
View Miagao Church in a larger map
Because we landed at the Iloilo Airport quite early (it was barely even 7:00am), I made a quick decision, calculating distance and time, to make a quick trip to the church. I negotiated a fair price with the taxi operators and we were on our way.
The trip was quite scenic, with the sun just having rose. We were blessed with clear skies.
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.
Having seen quite a number of Spanish-era churches, the Miagao Church (aka Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva) was certainly much different than most. This is the first time I have seen such an ornately carved bass-relief on the front of a church.
While we were there, for a while it didn’t look like the pictures I saw in the exploreiloilo.com website. The church was so clean of dirt, mold, and grime that it looked… new. And while most things clean are usually nice. In this case, it seemed to have lost its character as a church if the the late 1700s.
The interior of the church was also very clean. For good or for bad… it looked pretty modern.
We went back outside
This one taken from outside the gates. This while a fleet of tricycles were headed my way.
After exhausting the picture taking and walking around. We jumped back into our van and proceeded to Iloilo CIty for the Dinagyang Festival 2011.
This was a great side trip.