Click on any of the images to see the enlarged copy and narratives of the photo. The Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva in the town of Miagao, Iloilo is one of the Philippines? architectural and religious gems. Built between 1787 and 1797, its fortress-like design suggests its dual purpose as a place of worship and as a fort used in defending the town against moro raiders at the time. It is one of only four (Augustinian-built) churches in the country to make it to the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List.
Its unique features include the unusual Aztec like bas-relief in the fa?ade depicting St. Christopher carrying the baby Jesus through a tropical forest. The adobe used in building the church is made from silt and clay that can only be found in this part of Iloilo, giving the building a unique warm-yellowish glow. Flying buttresses from the side of the church walls are typical of the "earthquake baroque" design reminiscent of churches in Ilocos, particularly that of Paoay Church and Vigan Cathedral. Also of note are the dissimilar designs of the two belfries; both were commissioned by two different parish priests. The church?s simple interior is nevertheless highlighted by a striking gold-plated retablo.
Miagao is about 40kms south-west of Iloilo City. Jeepneys can take you from the city proper to this town in about 45 minutes.
Additional narratives or blogs:I was able to meet the historian of Miagao Church, Mr. Marcel Centena, and he shares that the walls of the church are 1.5 metres thick. Since there was no cement back then, the rocks are glued together using limestone and eggwhites! The belfry on the left (when facing the church) is older than the one on the right. You can actually climb the stairs to get up to the highest point of the church as well as to the two belfries.
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