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Beyond Paoay Church: Interesting Historical Sites Nearby Edit

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Maria Rona Beltran  • Contributor
Opinions expressed by Explora.ph Contributors are their own.

FIVE THOUSAND TRAVELERS go far out to see Paoay Church during high season and often spend only 10-15 minutes at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. These people braved 10 hours of bus ride or spent a lot on plane tickets only to see a fraction of what the town of Paoay can offer.


It is no doubt that Paoay Church, is the all-time top tourist spot to visit in Ilocos Norte but there’s a few more historical places in Paoay worth knowing. Most of these are just a walking distance or a 10-minute ride away from Paoay Church.  

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When in Ilocos never miss a chance to see the Paoay Church glow during sunset. Photo by Perry Sumakote
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This bell tower was used as observation post by the Katipuneros during the revolution by guerrilleros during the Japanese occupation in the Philippines. Photo by Perry Sumakote

Arte Luna is an old Gabaldon school building named after Juan Luna, who was born in Badoc, Ilocos Norte. This is where art exhibits, inabel (handwoven cloth) products, and old photographs are showcased in the province.

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Arte Luna is an old Gabaldon school building named after Juan Luna, who was born in Badoc, Ilocos Norte.

Just a few-minute walk from Arte Luna is an L-shaped old convent where remnants of broken coral stones, red bricks, and old water well are the main attractions. It’s made of beautiful ruins of what was once a glorious home of friars during the Spanish period.


Paoay is believed to have the most number of discovered water wells built during colonial times in the region and perhaps in the country. Back when water faucets aren’t a part of every household yet, wells are built in every corner of the country. Don’t be surprised that you might trip over one of them while you wander around the town.  

Seventy percent of Paoayeños are Aglipayans despite the fact that they have one of the most beautiful Catholic churches in the country. The Aglipay Church is one of the oldest structures in this town. During Guling-Guling Festival, which is celebrated a day before Ash Wednesday, a group of dancers in colorful costumes can be seen coming from this church to join the rest of participants dancing on the streets. They then continue until they have their final dance showdown in front of Paoay Church.      

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Guling-guling is one of the oldest festivals in the north, and possibly is the least altered one for more than 200 years already. Also, it may be the only Fat Tuesday festivity in the Philippines - it happens on the day before Ash Wednesday.

Across the street where Aglipay Church is located is the Presidencia, a heritage government building built in 1895. Even though it underwent many renovations in the past decades, the original look of Paoay’s town hall is still very visible. The lower floor is made of “tobacco columns”, Ilocano’s very own pillar design. It was only in 1930’s that the Rizal statue was added standing on an art deco pedestal.

To the right of Paoay Church is another Gabaldon building, the Paoay East Central School. These school buildings belong to the very first batch of classrooms constructed during the first decades of American rule. The government that time agreed to have one Gabaldon building per town. Paoay is extra special having not just one, but two of these buildings.

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Dudol is a Malay delicacy often found in Muslim communities (e.g., dudol garut of Indonesia, dudol Malaka of Malaysia, dudol of Goa in India, and the Maranao dudol).

Vigan is not the only place in Ilocos region where one can find astonishing old houses. Paoay has its share of well-preserved abodes such as Octagon House owned by Duque family, House of Gobernadorcillo or Blanco Family, and the Evangelista House. Just a short ride away is the ancestral house of Conchita Carpio-Morales, current Ombudsman of the Philippines. The locals call it The White House because of the white paint dominating the whole house over the brown color that serves as its motif.

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The White House owned by Conchita Carpio Morales, the first ombudswoman of the Philippines.

Just a stone’s throw away from this house is a complete baroque-inspired single-arch brick bridge that’s known to be the most intact Spanish period bridge in the northern Philippines. A photo sitting on this bridge plus a backdrop of The White House would surely look like you time traveled to the past.

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Baroque-inspired single-arch brick bridge that’s known to be the most intact Spanish period bridge in the northern Philippines.

Paseo de Paoay is a two-storey building that has been around for the past two years only. It was built to invite tourists to stay longer and spend more in this town. Visitors can eat at one of the restaurants, shop souvenir items, or take a bathroom break from a long walk. The Tourism Office of LGU Paoay can be reached at the ground floor and welcomes anyone who would like to book a FREE walking tour of Paoay's main attractions. 

Guling-guling Festival 2017 by Ed Antonio


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