Paoay Church has been on top of my bucket list for years. I first learned about it on a tourism ad while waiting for a train at an LRT platform. The picturesque Paoay Church was the star of the ad and sure enough it caught my interest. Since then, I’ve always wanted to travel to Ilocos and visit this magnificent place.
It was only this year that I got to explore the province when a friend invited me on a road trip. With a backpack and some comfortable slippers, we went on a four day journey to the North that I will never forget. I will get to the details of that on a separate article but for now, I want to share my most favorite part of the trip — THE PAOAY CHURCH.
The Church of Saint Agustine of Paoay or commonly known as Paoay Church is located at Paoay Ilocos Norte. It was almost a 2-hour bus ride from Vigan, Ilocos and a short tricycle ride to the quite town. We could see the iconic bell tower from afar as we drove nearer to our destination.
It was easy to see why the Church of Paoay was no ordinary structure. The moment I stepped foot on the church grounds, I knew I was in a different zone. The religious building is famous for its Spanish Baroque architecture. Distinct designs at the facade, walls and buttresses make up the fascinating exterior. A huge bell tower stands separate beside the church. Because of its great historical and cultural significance, it was declared a National Cultural Treasure and in 1973, and in 1993, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the collective group of Baroque Churches in the Philippines. Such huge honor for a humble church.
We took our first steps on the patio. The prickling morning sun could not stop us from exploring the vast area where a huge PAOAY stone marker stood on the side. The walkway to the church facade was long and wide, almost intimidating to walk at. Nicely trimed grass and bushes surrounded the brick path.
The church exterior was mind blowing. There was not a bad angle as I took photos of every stunning detail of the walls, which were weathered and added more appeal to it. I feel goosebumps everytime I go visit a church for the first time and being at the entrance of Paoay Church gave me another level of it. It’s places like this that I dream of traveling; places that make me feel inspired, motivated and grateful.
The church interior was massive and spacious. Restorations were visible during our visit but there was no stopping the people from celebrating holy mass. I said my prayers and paid homage before leaving.
I excited on the side of the Church and went to the JARDIN DE SAN AGUSTIN, a garden with a variety of plants and flowers, a walkway, stone statues, and a few benches to sit on. It was a calming and relaxing place to hang out after praying inside the church. It was also a good place to reflect as various quotes about God and words of wisdom were scattered all around the garden to inspire visitors. I took a few photos of quotes that I loved and spent a few minutes enjoying the place as I sat down one of the shaded benches.
Not far from the garden was a small souvenir shop to cater those who want to take home a piece of the historic church. The shop has almost everything you need for pasalubong and keepsakes.
After hours of exploring the Church of Paoay, it was finally time to go. After one more glance of its beautiful exterior, I knew it has left a lasting impression on me. Such a beautiful place. And to visit it at a perfect day, with only a few people and a sunny morning, I was able to fully experience the magic, and serenity of it. It may took a while but I’ll definitely be back, knowing that restoration efforts are ongoing to make this magnificent place better. The Church of Paoay being a National Treasure and a World Herritage Site is still lives up to its titles. Truly a destination worth putting on top of my bucket list.
The historic Church of San Agustin de Paoay is located at Marcos Ave, Paoay, Ilocos Norte.