Miagao Church (sometimes spelled as Miag-ao) in Iloilo Province is the most recognizable church in that province. In fact, it is always featured in every tourism flyer being given away from the tourism office. At first, I thought it was huge, like a cathedral. When I finally visited the place last October 22, 2013 I was surprised that it’s smaller than I thought it would be. Nevertheless, it’s very beautiful.
Miagao Church in Miagao, Iloilo is famous for its façade that portrays St. Christopher (San Cristobal in the vernacular). It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited churches in the province. The façade of the church has bas relief of coconuts, papaya and local flora. Just below St. Christopher, you’ll find the statue of St. Thomas de Villanueva. You’ll also find the Seal of the Church and State on the façade, with a statue of a pope and a king. This church has two uneven bell towers.
The main altar of the Miagao Church has the Sto. Nino on top, the Crucified Christ on the center, with St. Joseph and St. Thomas de Villanueva on the sides. It’s painted to give the notion that it’s covered in gold. The sides of the church has French windows and the outside wall is reinforced by buttresses.
The UNESCO marker on the lawn of the church reads:
Pandaigdigang Pamanang Pook
Simbahan ng Santo Tomas de Villanueva
Isa sa apat na simbahang Baroque sa Pilipinas na itinala noong 1993 sa talaan ng Pandaigdigang Pamana alinsunod sa 1972 UNESCO Kumbensyon ukol sa Pangangalaga ng Pandaigdigang Pamanang Pangkultura at Pangkalikasan.
Taglay ng Simbahan ng Santo Tomas de Villanueva ang pambihirang kahalagahang unibersal na nararapat na pangalagaan para sa kapakinabangan ng buong sangkatauhan.
The rough translation of the marker is:
World Heritage Site
Church of St. Thomas de Villanueva
One of the four Baroque Churches in the Philippines that was listed in 1993 on the World Heritage Site following the 1972 Convention on the Conservation of World Cultural and Natural Heritage Sites.
The Church of St. Thomas de Villanueva possesses the unique, universal qualities that should be preserved for the benefit of humanity.
Another marker on the façade of the church reads:
Construction of this Church began in 1787 while Fray Francisco M. Gonzales O.S.A. was Parish Priest of this town and Domingo Libo-on was Gobernadorcillo. The church was completed in 1797. It served as fortress against Muslim raiders. In 1898, during the Revolution, the Church was destroyed. Subsequently rebuilt, it was damaged by fire in 1910. It was badly damaged by earthquake in 1948. Restoration work began in 1960 and completed in 1962. During the term of office of Most Rev. Dr. Jose Ma. Cuenco, D.D. Metropolitan Archbishop of Jaro, of Msgr. Fernando S. Javillo, D.P., Parish Priest of this town and Dioscoro Mueda, Municipal Mayor.
The main façade of the Miagao Church taken at different angels. Noticed that the color of the yellow limestone changes?
The markers of the Miagao Church.
The main entrance of the Miagao Church. I wonder whose statues are flanking the entrance.
Detail of the main door of the Miagao Church.
Even the side windows are well decorated.
The main altar of the Miagao Church.
The interior of the Miagao Church, formally known as the Church of St. Thomas de Villanueva in Iloilo Province.
The baptistery of the church.
The buttresses that fortifies the church against earthquakes.
One of the bell towers taken from the rear.