Among the many spectacular churches in the region, the Miag-ao Church is unique in being used as a fortress in ancient times. Besides protecting its parishioners, it has served as a source of pride because of its magnificent Spanish-era architecture that still remains today.
The Miag-ao Church was built in 1786 by Spanish Augustinian missionaries and was declared as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Baroque Churches of the Philippines" in 1993.
On the front facade, which is flanked by two watchtower belfries, one can see the unique blending of Spanish and native influences.
The central feature of the bas-relief facade is a large coconut tree which reaches almost to the apex. While an integral part of the Philippine landscape, the coconut tree is also the subject of lore. According to an old Philippine legend, the coconut tree was the only bequest from a loving mother to her two children, a tree which sustained them for life. On the church's facade the coconut tree appears as the "tree of life" to which St. Christopher carrying the Child Jesus on his shoulder is clinging to. The lesser facades feature the daily life of Miagaowanons during the time. Also depicted are other native flora and fauna, as well as native dress.
The church and its watchtowers were also built to defend the town and its people against raids by the Moros. It therefore has thick walls and, reportedly, secret passages. Indeed stretching along the Iloilo coast are defensive towers, but none that equal the size of the Miag-ao. It is because of this defensive purpose that it is sometimes referred to as the Miag-ao Fortress Church.
Here is a list of some of the hotels that can be found in the province should one stay for some time to visit the many attractions of Iloilo:
- Hotel Del Rio
Location: M.H. Del Pilar St., City Proper, Iloilo / Guimaras, Philippines 5000
- Harbor Town Hotel
Location: Corner JM Basa - Aldeguer Streets, City Proper, Iloilo / Guimaras, Philippines
- Iloilo Midtown Hotel
Location: Corner Yulo - Iznart Streets, City Proper, Iloilo / Guimaras, Philippines 5000
- Days Hotel Iloilo
Location: The Atrium at the Capitol, Cor Gen. Luna- Bonifacio Dr, City Proper, Iloilo / Guimaras, Philippines 5000
- Circle Inn - Iloilo City Center
Location: Iznart Street, Maria Clara, City Proper, Iloilo / Guimaras, Philippines
- Iloilo Business Hotel
Location: Benigno Aquino Avenue, Mandurriao, Iloilo / Guimaras, Philippines 5000
Iloilo Province is located in Western Visayas and can be reached by plane, bus, ferry or roro (roll-on-roll-off) from Manila.
There are direct flights to Iloilo Intenational Airport and take around 50 minutes from Manila. Once there, one can ride a shuttle van or taxi going to Iloilo City.
List of airlines that have daily trips to Manila to Iloilo:
- Cebu Pacific
- Air Philippines
- Philippine Airlines
- Zest Air
From Manila Ports, the travel time going to Iloilo Domestic Port, located along General Hughes St., is about 20 hours.
There are buses from Manila that have trips to Iloilo City. The bus uses the roro (roll-on-roll-off) services going to Iloilo. The bus terminals in Cubao and Pasay have buses with trips going to Iloilo.
When touring the province, taxis and jeepneys are available as a mode of transportation around the province.