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Miag-ao Church, A UNESCO Heritage Site

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I don't usually make churches part of my itinerary because they all look the same to me, unless they're a really famous landmark. However, when I first saw pictures of Miag-ao church, I just had to go and visit this fine piece of architecture and see it for myself.

If you want to do as we did so you can still have time to go around Guimaras in the afternoon, I suggest leaving at 5am in the morning to go to Miag-ao church. You will arrive at 6am, in time for the first mass. We were late and arrived at 7am but it was still ok.

How to Get There:

Since our hotel was in Bavaria Restaurant and Hotel in Jaro, Iloilo, we walked a short distance towards the Jaro Cathedral, near the plaza. You can't miss the huge bellfry in the middle of the road right across the Jaro Cathedral. We waited in front of the famous Ted's Batchoy for a jeep with the signboard Leganes and just told the driver to drop us off at Stoplight. The Leganes jeep also passes by SM Iloilo so you can ride from there.

Miag-ao Church, a baroque-style church and UNESCO heritage site

Two massive belfries are on either side of the entrance
Once you're in Stoplight, look for jeepneys going to Miag-ao. Our fare was Php 50 for the 45 minute ride. The last stop will be exactly in front of Miag-ao Church but if you have more time, this jeep will also pass by Guimbal church, which is also beautiful.

For me, the church looked unusual, not your typical Filipino church. It is one of the four churches in the Philippines declared as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Baroque Churches of the Philippines", the other three being Paoay Church (Ilocos Norte), San Agustin Church (Manila) and La Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion in Sta. Maria (Ilocos Sur).

Interior of Miag-ao Church
Beautiful doorway
According to wikipilipinas, its fortress-like design suggests its dual purpose as a place of worship and as a fort used in defending against moro raiders.

The motifs are carved from soft, yellow limestone. The man depicted in the carving is St. Christopher carrying the Child Jesus on his shoulder while clinging to a coconut tree, which is the "tree of life" in the Philippines.

The carved facade of Miag-ao Church
According to some sources, the Miag-ao Church has hidden passageways to bring townspeople to safety in case of attack.

The parish patron saint is St. Thomas of Villanueva and his stone image is at the very center in front of the church. On either side of the entrance are carved statues of the Pope and St. Henry.

The Pope
St. Henry
We stayed for an hour just taking photos after offering personal prayers. The same jeep will return to Iloilo City but this time, we got off at "Super" which is the short term locals use for Supermarket.

From there, we took a tricycle for Php10 each to bring us to the port going to Guimaras but that story is in another post.


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