Iloilo | Miag-ao Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Miagao Church a.k.a. Church of Saint Thomas of Villanova Parish is found in Miagao, Iloilo. Its history dates back to 1731 when its namesake, Saint Thomas of Villanova, established the church as an independent Augustinian parish. After several relocations, it was finally completed in 1797 with a sculptural design so artful it can take your breath away. 

Miagao Church in Iloilo Province

Though a number of catastrophic events, both natural and manmade, occurred since then it stood the test of time. It was very much beloved by the people that it underwent several restoration projects in an attempt to preserve its historical beauty.

In fact, due to its exceptional antique beauty that was considered magnificent even in its own time period, it was proclaimed worthy to be included in the list of World Heritage by United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

No surprise right there, as it is one of the most beautiful preserved Baroque Churches in the Philippines!

Miagao Church in Iloilo Province

A Baroque Church

A Baroque is type of stylish architecture that is extremely decorative and extravagant that thrived in 17th and 18th century in Europe. Examples of Baroque’s extravagant and stylish architecture include marble stones carved into intricate images of saints and angels, watchtowers embedded with sculpted cultural elements (like coconut trees and traditional clothing), and facades with stone bas-reliefs. 

Miagao Church in Iloilo Province

The topmost of the church front shows St. Christopher dressed in traditional clothes while holding a stone-carved coconut tree with Child Jesus on his back. Below this image is a sculpted picture of St. Thomas of Villanova himself dressed in majestic clothes. 

On either side of the fa├žade are two huge watchtowers, both of which are parts of large, unequal bell towers. They are different from each other both in size and design, since two different priests ordered the construction. It is truly a sight to behold!

Inside the church itself is a sanctuary and baptistery of equal beauty, if not more so, of the exterior. You simply have to visit to experience the awe-inspiring splendour for yourself!

Miagao Church in Iloilo Province

Miagao Church in Iloilo Province


The first step in going to Miag-ao is to go to Iloilo City, whether you come from Luzon or other provinces of Visayas or Mindanao the easiest way to get to Iloilo is by plane. 

From Metro Manila 
Take an airplane ride going to Iloilo City. All local airlines has direct flight from Manila to Iloilo City. Iloilo is part of Panay Island. Aside from Iloilo City International Airport, Panay island has 2 other airports - Caticlan in Aklan and Roxas in Capiz.

Other option, if you come from Luzon you can even go by land (and sea) via RORO buses from Metro Manila to Iloilo City through Laguna-Batangas-Mindoro Oriental-Panay Island nautical highway.

From Visayas provinces/islands
If there are no plane route to Iloilo City from where you are, you can travel to Cebu. From Cebu, you can choose to travel by air or sea going to Iloilo City. 

Bacolod City (Negros Occidental) is very close to Iloilo. Just ride in a fastcraft or RORO ship from Bacolod Port going to Iloilo City - more or less 1 hour sea travel.

From Mindanao
There are direct flights from Davao City, General Santos City and Cagayan de Oro City going to and from Iloilo City.

Once you arrive in Iloilo City, you can choose any one of the 2 options:
  • Go to the Molo District, specifically to Mohon Terminal. From here, you can take any the “Miagao” jeepney, or any jeepney that goes to the south. You can simply tell the driver to drop you near the Miagao Church. 
  • You can also go to the Iloilo City Proper, and proceed to the Iloilo Terminal Market. Similar to the first option, ride a “Miagao” jeepney or take any that goes to the south portion. The locals will gladly help you should you need more specific jeepney alternatives.


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