It has a Baroque architectural design highlighted with enormous 24 huge buttresses of 1.67 meters thick (5.5 feet) on the sides and back of the building. Other than being declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the Philippine government in 1973, it has also brought honor to the country for being a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.
Its walls are made of large coral stones and bricks and its separately constructed three-storey bell tower which resembles to a pagoda is also made of coral stones. Its bell tower had served as observational post for Filipino revolutionaries against the Spaniards in 1898 and by Filipino guerillas against Japanese soldiers during World War II.
Looking closely on its architectural design, one who has varied knowledge in architecture, can see a touch of gothic design on its beautiful façade while the gabbles reflect influence of Chinese architecture and the niches on top of the pillars and buttresses suggest Javanese influence as seen in the Borobodur Temple in Java, Indonesia.
To date, as it continues to stand proud by itself, it has proven that it survived the threats of wars, strong typhoons and devastating earthquakes. Its built foundation might have been seismographically designed to resist the destruction that an earthquake may cause.
So far, this was my third time to visit this place but what made this trip very memorable is the fact that I was with the company of masteral classmates along with few friends where while resting we dine in at the Herencia Café and feasted on their great Pinakbet Pizza while having a great view of the Paoay Church. This café is located along McArthur Street, Barangay 14, Sangladan of Paoay and you can contact them at (77) 614-0214.
How to go to Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte by Car (Private Transport)
Travel time from Manila to Laoag is 12 hours. That is, if you won't consider stop overs. From NLEX, exit to SCTEX then head north to Tarlac Exit, the last exit of SCTEX. From Tarlac Exit, turn left to Sta. Rosa Tarlac Road. Turn right on MacArthur Highway.
Follow this highway northward passing through the Tarlac towns of Gerona and Paniqui, and through the towns of Pangasinan (Urdaneta, Binalonan, Pozzorubio, Sison, and Rosario).
When you reach Rosario in Pangasinan, watch out for the major fork on the road. The right road of the fork will lead you to Baguio. Take the left road going to further Pangasinan towns and Ilocos (this is still MacArthur Highway). From there you will pass by the Pangasinan towns of Sto. Tomas, Agoo, Bauang, San Fernando City, Candon, and Narvacan.
Before reaching Laoag, you will pass by the cities and towns of Ilocos Sur (Vigan, Cabugao,then Batac). Paoay is not located on National Road but only a few minutes drive from Batac. When you reach Batac town proper, drive on to Batac-Banna Road to Dewey St., turn left on Washington Street then right on Marcos Avenue. Paoay Church is at the left side. It will only take you 30 minutes tops from Batac.
How to go to Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte by Bus (Public Transport)
Partas Bus, Philippine Rabbit, Fariñas, and Dominion Bus are the most common buses that travel to Laoag. Check their travel schedule at least a day before your trip. You may charter a tricycle from Laoag to tour you around Paoay (Php250), which is a good alternative since Paoay is not on National Road.