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Monday, May 10, 2010

Nomadic Pranksters and Miagao Church, Iloilo

I love traveling with friends both old and new. My trip to Iloilo was green lighted after an initial plan hatched by Chin. I first met Chin online in multiply about 5 years ago and has since been looking forward to meeting her in person. Also joining us on our Iloilo trip was another online buddy, Aileen - one of my favorite online buddies who used to work for UN projects in Mindanao. She is also a great photographer and has ventured out in wedding and portrait photography.

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 That's why my trip to Iloilo isn't just about experiencing a new place but confirming a new set of friendship with new people as well. Aside from meeting both Chin and Aileen, I also got to meet their friends Mina and Tinay, Backpacker Ben and his pet rooster "Tagay". 

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Author Ken Kesey popularized the Merry Pranksters of the 1960's. It was a term coined for bunch of writers, artists and other hipsters who rode a bus across the USA promoting freedom and gaining new aesthetic experiences, a communal life and throw in a bit of psychedelic drug use. 

I had no plan of imitating the drug part of that journey, but in my own case. I want to meet new friends and go with them on travels around the Philippines, sort of like a fun bunch of group open to gaining a new and collective experience at the same time discovering new things about our country. A milder version of the Merry Pranksters, a muddy, little bit crazy called Nomadic Pranksters. 

After meeting them for the first time upon their arrival in Iloilo City, we then proceeded to travel the countryside of Iloilo and the first place we pit stopped was Miagao Church

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Miagao Church is famous for its architecture. The brick walls glued together by egg whites, the high bell tower, the carvings of saints on the front exterior wall and the classic golden like visual of the altar. The church was first constructed in 1786 by the Spanish Augustinians. The front facade depicts a coconut tree which represents "tree of life" in local folklore stemming from a tale of a mother who asked for the coconut tree to sustain her two children. Saint Christopher is also shown as carrying the child Jesus Christ against the backdrop of tropical trees. The tower also served a dual purpose back in the days, as a defense wall guarding the church from Moro marauders at the time. 


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In 1973, Miagao Church was declared a National Shrine and in 1993, the church was included in the list of the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Site, a testament to its historical significance and cultural legacy. The interior of the church does not disappoint with its high ceilings, arching altar and religious statues.

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The design of Miagao church was a mixture of a number of architectural influences, the Baroque Romanesque style, Muslim and Chinese style, Native design and even Medieval Spanish architecture all contributed to the unique look of Miagao Church.

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A landmark marker was inscribed on the front of the church wall detailing its brief history as a fortress against the Muslim raiders, the 1898 revolution and its battle with other forces of nature like fires and earthquakes.

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We rested briefly after taking some wacky photographs of themselves, a good way to break the ice among my new friends and myself and what a better way to start our trip to Iloilo, than immersing ourselves with a bit of history by seeing Miagao Church with our own eyes.

Going to Miagao Church from downtown Iloilo, you need to take jeepneys plying the southern route (San Joaquin or Miagao).

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