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What Else to See in Paoay, Ilocos Norte Aside From Paoay Church

Paoay, Ilocos Norte, Philippines
white house of paoay owned by conchita morales corpio

The town of Paoay in Ilocos Norte is no doubt a popular tourist destination. Being the home of Paoay Church, a UNESCO heritage site, one cannot proclaim that he or she has been to Ilocos without seeing this historic church.  However, the sad truth is most of those aren't seeing the best of what Ilocos Norte's historical spots because they only spend an average of 10 - 15 minutes of walking inside the church plus photo ops in front then leave. The LGU Paoay says an estimate of 5, 000 tourists visit ONLY Paoay Church during peak season and 2, 000 for low season.  It was my fourth time in Ilocos last February. I was thinking I have seen already what this town is all about but I'm so wrong. Here's a travel guide to Paoay in Ilocos Norte. Take note, these are just the ones located walking distance from Paoay Church. I will do a separate blog entry for a complete itinerary and travel guide to the whole of Paoay's tourist destinations:

1. Birthplace of Valentin Diaz

valentin diaz
This marker says "Here was born, 1 November 1849, Philippine Revolutionary hero Valentine Diaz, son of Geronimo Diaz and Maria Villanueva. Moved to Tayug, Pangasinan, 1857 later became Gobernadorcillo. Member of La Liga Filipina 3 July 1892; Treasurer of the Katipunan, 7 July 1892; Major in the Army of the Revolution 1895; Exiled to Hong Kong, 1897. Colonel in the Philippine Army during the Filipino-American War. Died in Manila 1918"

2 Arte Luna
arte luna paoay ilocos norte

Arte Luna is an old Gabaldon school building named after Juan Luna, the great Ilocano painter from Badoc, Ilocos Norte. Workshops, art exhibits and products like inabel (wooven cloth) are usually displayed here. It's old name is Primera Escuela Central of  Paoay. It is said that there's an entrance fee of Php 50 if there are exhibits inside but most of the time is is just an empty and dark space.

3. Paoay L-shaped convent

paoay L shaped old convent ilocos norte

You will see remains of  old & broken coral stones, bricks of different sizes, and  grand looking water well that seemed a marker where Spanish conquerors get their water supply are the main attractions. This  beautiful ruins which is slowly being dressed up by the  local government unit of Paoay was once a glorious home of friars and Spaniards. Recently, this convent is groomed as a "horror house" especially during the commemoration of Tumba, Paoay's local version of the Day of the Dead.  

Entrance is free during ordinary days. You just need to write your name to the logbook from the guard.

"Cultural mappings, researches and more discoveries conclude that Paoay has the most number of water wells built during colonial times in the whole province and perhaps in the country.  A water well is used back then when a water faucet isn't available in the Philippines which was only introduced during American occupancy. Each well is built every corner in Paoay where a community dwells to supply clean water, wash clothes et cetera.  The rulers and locals of Paoay in yesteryears may have seriously followed the grid system for building the biggest number of water wells so don't be surprised if you might trip over one of it while you walk. " 

4. Beautiful and old houses

old houses in paoay ilocos norte

Sure, there's Calle Crisologo in Vigan where a bulk of heritage houses (some converted to paid accommodations) can be seen. Paoay has also a fair share of old houses: Octagon House by Duque family, House of Gobernadorcillo by Blanco Family, and the Evangelista House.  The ancestral house of Conchita Carpio-Morales, current Ombudsman of the Philippines is the one I would recommend worth visiting. It is 15 - minute tricycle ride from Paoay's center.  

5. Paoay Brick Bridge
Paoay oldest Brick Bridge ilocos norte

To the left of Miss Conchita Carpio's old 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. 

"If you have a great eye of photography, the outcome of your picture could like you traveled back to the past.  It is dubbed as The White House because of the white paint dominating the whole house over the brown color that serves as its motif. See my main photo above."

6. Paseo de Paoay 

paseo de paoay ilocos norte

Paseo de Paoay was only added two years to attract tourists to spend more by eating at one of the restaurants and buy souvenirs. The Local Tourism Office of LGU Paoay is located at the ground floor.  There's actually a debate going on from history buffs whether it was right to build this building within the buffer zone of a UNESCO heritage site. Technically, it is deemed wrong but if this is a decision of the local officials of Paoay, then they are expected to know better than anyone else. 

Sorry no photos for these yet

7. Aglipay Church
PaoayeƱos are seventy percent (70%) Aglipayans though it is very ironic that this town is home to a revered Catholic church and earthquake baroque architecture as wellThe Aglipay Church is one of the oldest structures in this town. Every Guling-Guling Festival, celebrated a day before Ash Wednesday, dancers wearing Spanish-inspired costumes are seen dancing while coming out of this church to join the rest of participants dancing in the streets.

8. La Presidencia
Presidencia is a heritage government building built in 1895. The original look of Paoay’s town hall is still very visible despite the numerous renovations it underwent. The lower floor is made of “tobacco columns”, Ilocanos' very own pillar design. The Rizal statue built on the front right side was  added in 1930. 

9. Paoay East Central School as Gabaldon building  

Some of the old buildings inside this public elementary school in Paoay belong to the very first batch of classrooms constructed during the first decades of American rule. Actually, the rule of the local government says to have one Gabaldon building per town but Paoay for some reasons has two!

Please feel free to reach out LGU Paoay's tourism office for a free walking tour to any of these destinations within Paoay Church. 

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travel guide to paoay ilocos norte

Would like to credit Mon Villaverde of Terrific Traveler blog for taking the photos via my Canon DSLR camera, Perry Sumakote of for the opportunity to join this trip and Bernard Guerero of Local Government Unit of Paoay Tourism Office for accommodating us.

Note: I was one of the participants invited by LGU Paoay to cover Guling Guling Festival 2017 and explore Paoay as a travel destination. You can click HERE my review of GULING GULING FESTIVAL : PAOAY, ILOCOS NORTE'S 400 YEAR OLD TRADITION. This is a sponsored trip however opinions are all mine.

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