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Church of Santo Tomas (Saint Thomas) de Villanuev, Miagao, Iloilo

Miago Church

  • The Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva stands on the highest point of Miagao, Iloilo, its towers serving as lookouts against Muslim raids. These and the squat appearance of the church underline its role as a fortress, and it is the finest surviving example of " fortress Baroque ".
  • Early records of the town commence in 1580. The town was subjected to Muslim pirate raids in 1754 and again numerous times thereafter and particularly in 1741 and 1754 when each time the then existing church was burnt down whilst Muslim pirates looted the town. As a consequence of frequent Muslim pirate raids in 1786 construction was started for a new massive, fortress like church to be built on top of the hill named ''Tacas ''. Since then this church has withstood all earthquakes and typhoons including that of 1948 when eighty percent of all buildings on Panay Island were destroyed.
  • The sumptuous facade epitomizes the Filipino transfiguration of western decorative elements, with the figure of St Christopher on the pediment dressed in native clothes, carrying the Christ Child on his back, and holding on to a coconut palm for support.
  • The entire riotously decorated facade is flanked by massive tapering bell towers of unequal heights.One tower has four levels and the other three levels.
  • On the facade there is a high relief stone carving portraying a large trunk of a coconut palm in full foliage with a giant Saint Christopher carrying the Child Jesus on his shoulders with papaya and other fruit trees. A heavily drawn frieze and decorative balusters set apart the first level from the second level and from the integrated pediment.