Two Ilocano baroque churches have made it to the Unesco World Heritage List.
They are the Roman Catholic Church in this town— birthland of the Galaritas, the Blancos, the Villanuevas, the Toledos, the Valenzuelas, the Baysas—and the Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion Church, which is nestled in a hill in Santa Maria, rich in myth and folklore.
The Paoay Church, also called Simbaan ni San Agustin, was built in 1704 from coral stones, mortar and molasses. Historians call the church structure “earthquake baroque.”
It is only a few kilometers from the inland Paoay Lake, which was mercilessly inundated during the onslaught of Typhoon “Pepeng” in 2009.
The lake, according to legend, took shape when the community north of the town proper exploded in much the same manner as the Biblical Sodom and Gomorrah.