If I were living in Manila and had a sudden urge to endure an butt numbing 8-hour bus, I could have already visited the Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte … sadly it wasn’t the case.

The most convenient way from Iloilo, my hometown, to this iconic church is to take a flight to Manila and another flight to Laoag City. From Laoag, it’s just 30 minutes by land to the Paoay Church.

It’s so cool to be so far away from home and have the chance to visit the Paoay Church alongside many attractions of Ilocos Norte … especially because I didn’t exactly take the most convenient route :)

Paoay Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Yearning for the Paoay Church

The Paoay Church has probably been blogged about a gazillion times already. It is one of the most famous and most photographed churches in the Philippines after all.

At some point in my life, there exists a moment when I saw a photo of the Paoay Church for the first time. The WOW moment, which made yearn for the day I’d get to see the Paoay Church in person.

Paoay Church in person

What first drew me to the Paoay Church was how exotic it looks. It evokes an somewhat Oriental slash Aztec feel … maybe it’s the spires and the unconventional pyramidal shape that does it.

A friend once told me, “If you can’t figure out the architectural style of a church, then it’s probably Baroque.” Baroque architectures is sometimes described as an exaggeration of different styles.

Baroque-style churches are quite common in the Philippines. During the Spanish-colonial era, the friars were tasked to design the churches.

They were not architects and relied on memories of churches they’ve seen in the known world. Much of these churches, as in the case of the Paoay Church, were very much influenced by the local landscape.

What caught my attention the most was the Paoay Church’s overbearingly massive buttresses. These support structures located at the sides of the church were built as protection against earthquakes.

Obviously, the buttresses have been effective since the church still stands up to now. I love how curves and the pointed spires create a beautiful pyramidal silhouette.

Another thing I loved was the charming open space in front of the church. The greens and cobblestone paths bring out the beauty of the Paoay Church.

Standing in front of the Paoay Church feels like being transported into the Spanish-colonial times. Of course, the lack of people helped. I made my visit during a sleepy weekday afternoon.

Paoay Church Interiors

In contrast to the ornate exteriors, the interiors of the Paoay Church were very simple. This might not be the original ceiling.

Lunch at La Herencia Cafe

After getting my fill of photos, it was time to fill my stomach. So corny, haha.

Seriously, I got hungry seeing a quaint restaurant across the church. It was named “La Herencia Cafe”. Herencia means heritage in Spanish.

La Herencia Cafe had a nice al fresco area affording a great view of the Paoay Church.

Ordered Bagnet with KBL. Bagnet is deep fried pork meat while KBL is a dip made of Kamatis, Bagoong, and Lasona.

What makes bagnet different from the usual chicharon was that it’s customary to eat it with rice.

Bagnet with KBL at La Herencia Cafe

Passed by the Paoay Municipal Hall on my way out

Paoay Church, finally!

Maybe in some obscure part of the internet, there exists a person who will stumble on this blog post and see a photo of the Paoay Church for the first time too. I hope my photos did this magnificent church any justice.

My visit to the Paoay Church was part of an 11-day trip aross Northern Luzon.