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This blog is an amateur photographer's attempt to show how beautiful the world really is. He is drawn to the colors of nature like a moth to a candle light. What are showcased here are nature's grand display of colors at sunrise and sunset, beautiful beaches and off-the-beaten track locations in his beloved Philippines, waterfalls and some of nature's great sculptures, architectural gems, and other views from around SE Asia that he was fortunate to see at one point.

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December 3, 2009

iloilo: miagao church, looking beautiful amidst repairs

Miag-ao Church: Under Maintenance
Miagao's barouque church

The Miagao Church, with it coral stone walls glowing in the early morning sun, still looks grand even with the scaffolding. This impressive 212 year old architectural treasure, constructed in 1786 and finished in 1797, has every right to be considering that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Baroque Churches of the Philippines).

We were made aware by our friend Carmen that the church is currently undergoing maintenance but we decided to see it anyway. It would be my first time to see the church and I don't want to miss the chance to visit it while I am in Iloilo, with or without the scaffolds..

massive belfry and flying buttresses (side of the church)

Built in Tacas, the highest elevated area of Miagao, the church looked more like a fortress with its stout profile and 1.5 meter thick stone walls than a place for worship. I later found out that the church was really designed for that dual purpose. In fact is the third church to be built in Miagao, the first two were destroyed and looted by Muslim pirates. Miagao Church is one of the first Spanish colonial mission churches and during that period mission churches are really military strongholds.

Miag-ao Church Facade Under Maintenance
facade under maintenance

This  baroque-romanesque church's facade features an Aztec looking bas-relief (yes its hard to really appreciate it with all that scaffolding). Native influence on the design is evident as coconut, papaya and guava shrubs are incorporated in the sculpture.

Miag-ao Church Restorer
working on the church walls

The massive stone blocks used for the construction of this church were quarried from the nearby town of San Joaquin. These blocks were originally glued using limestone and egg whites but cement was later used to reinforce the walls (the church was extensively rehabilitated in 1945 after the Japanese occupation during which it was burned).

At the time of our visit, every inch of the walls are being combed with a soft brush to remove lichen and moss. A solution (probably a brine solution) is also sprayed on the walls to discourage the growth of lichen.

Miag-ao Church interior
Miagao church interior

We passed by the parish office and asked for permission to enter the church. The interior, though small, is equally as impressive as the church's exterior. Glass stained windows contrast beautifully on the stone walls.

The highlight of the church's interior is the gold-plated retablo behind the altar. I managed to convince a layperson to turn on the lights for a few seconds (yes, only for a few seconds because he'll be in serious trouble if the monsignor finds out). Its always an advantage if you can speak the local dialect fluently. 

Miag-ao Church Lighted Altar
lighted altar

According to experts, the Miagao church architectural influences include the prevailing Hispano-American and medieval Spanish architecture at that time, infused with Chinese and Muslims designs. The friars who built the church were not really architects and the fusion of different designs resulted to a form that is not indicative of a particular order or a specific period. Miagao church thus is truly a unique structure.

how to get there
Miagao is just 40+ kilometers from Iloilo City. You can catch a jeeps bound for Miagao/San Joaquin in their terminal in the supermarket. You can also wait for the jeeps in front of Iloilo Doctor's Hospital. Fare is 40++ pesos. These Miagao bound jeeps are known to be fast, and I mean really fast. You'll be in Miagao in just 30 minutes.

From the airport, you can hire a van that will take you straight to Miagao for 800 pesos.
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sheng said...

been there, and twice, elegant beauty!

Lantaw said...

@sheng, gwapo nga church no? mabalik man ko to next year a :D

RedLan said...

Ganda pa rin ng pagkakuha kahit under contruction. Na-disappoint ako last month dahil ganyan nakita ko. Last Sunday ganun pa rin. swerte nyo bukas siya. Ilang beses na ako pumunta pero closed. I cant wait to see more photos of Iloilo. Thanks for the feature!

Lantaw said...

@redlan, repairs are estimated to be completed before Christmas (daw). Nakiusap lang din kami na papasukin sa loob :)

Unknown said...

a truly magnificent structure---kahit maraming Pinoy ang inalipin sa paggawa nito.:p

i hope to see this church up close and personal one of these days.

escape said...

so true bai. even it is being repaired, it's beautiful. nice to see it refurbished.

Lantaw said...

@luna, ganun talaga ang nangyayari sa mga colonies ;). maganda sya, pag nasa iloilo ka drop by sa miagao

@dom, oo bai, its good to know they are taking care of this treasure. balik tayo dun :D

Anonymous said...

i've seen this church featured in other blogs i also follow but you have the nicest shot of its altar. =)

Lantaw said...

@docgelo, thanks!

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