WE LEAVE BATAC and continue to the town of Paoay four kilometers west. The monotonous views of streetside houses, trees and tall grasses are soon broken by the imposing triangular facade in the distance, that familiar shape of the Paoay Church. Within minutes, we find ourselves under the shadow of an historical landmark, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a prime example of a Spanish colonial architecture.

The Saint Augustine Church, or more known as the Paoay Church, was declared a UNESCO Heritage site in 1993 the collective group of Baroque Churches of the Philippines.
Left, the belltower was constructed separately from the church. Filipino revolutionaries used the structure as an observational post during their fight against Spaniards in 1898. Right, the church’s buttresses, which are its most distinguishing features, serve as protection from earthquakes.

Paoay Church was first constructed in 1694 using bricks, coral stones, tree sap and lumber. Its label as an “Earthquake Baroque Church” comes from it bearing elements of Baroque architecture but with adaptations to withstand earthquakes, similar to the Borobudur in Indonesia. Each side of the main structure has 12 massive buttresses made with large coral stones for support. The bell tower was separately built from the main building and stands a distance from the main church to avoid damage in case of collapse.

The Marcos family’s mansion, which they call Malacañang of the North, is a lavish residential structure beside the Paoay Lake.
With grand rooms with luxurious furniture, the Marcos mansion provides a glimpse of the opulent life.
Left, the back patio of the mansion has serene views of the lake. Right, figurines of Filipinas in traditional costume decorate a bedroom desk.
The picturesque Paoay Lake is the largest lake in Ilocos Norte and one of the most popular attractions in the region.

A few minutes tricycle ride from the church and Paoay’s quiet beauty reveals itself. Surrounded by trees and situated on a picturesque spot by the lake, a mansion seduces with its elegance under the golden sunlight. It’s also known by the name with which the family christened it – the Malacañang of the North.

The mansion was the residence of the Marcos family before it was taken by the national government when the former president was removed from power. It was actually Imelda’s birthday gift to his husband on his 60th birthday.

Now visitors are filling the house and creating their own memories of it. The grand rooms overlooking the charming lake oblige those who wander inside to surrender to the lazy morning.

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3 thoughts

    1. Hi! I was told that our ancestors were from Batac as well. I really love Ilocos, it’s such a beautiful place with a rich history. Nope, I didn’t get to try the miki but we enjoyed the empanada and the dragonfruit ice cream. The Paoay Sand Dunes were closed to the public when we were there, but we did explore the ones in Laoag.

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