Edit Blog Post
Published: August 2nd 2011
Although known as the “Earthquake Baroque” church in the Philippines, Paoay Church actually combines baroque, gothic and oriental designs.
I had a wonderful time when I last visited this place. Dinner with a view then. Lovely, with the entire Church illuminated in all its beauty and antiquity. This time around, I brought my family for lunch here. And the view , on this rainy day, is just as awesome. Plus the novelty of Ilocano dishes for lunch did not fail.
It is actually Saint Augustine Church
in Paoay, Ilocos Norte. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this 17th century church combines Gothic, Baroque and even Oriental designs and stands proud , alone and majestic, supported by 24 massive buttresses which render its side view just as interesting as its front view. The belfry is separated from the Church, and looks rooted to the ground like a faithful sentry to its master.
As it was raining, we decided to take our lunch in the equally lovely Cafe Herencia
fronting the church compound. Inside, you can choose a table with a window that affords an unobstructed view of the Paoay Church. On a rainy day, you will be quite content sipping a good espresso while nibbling on a local biscuit or cookie, while admiring this
Buttresses, all of 24!
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is supported by 24 massive buttresses which render its side view just as interesting as its frontal view.
icon of Spanish rule in this northern part of the Philippines.
But we came here directly from Manila, after a one hour flight that was mercifully not delayed despite the inclement weather. Passing by the Sinking Bell Tower
near the 17th century Italian Renaissance-inspired St. William The Hermit Church
in Laoag City, we timed our visit of this Paoay heritage site so we can enjoy a late lunch in this Cafe.
And Lunch Is ALWAYS Serious Business 😊
With kids in tow, Cafe Herencia allows us to choose the traditional and must-try local dishes while offering standard food options for the children.
As it turned out, we simply had to order the Pinakbet Pizza
as Cafe Herencia is touted to be the "home" of this fusion dish. Pizza is Pizza. Pinakbet is a very Ilocano dish in this region. Basically a vegetable dish consisting of stringbeans, bitter melon, tomatoes and the local fermented fish paste. Honestly, it was difficult for me to even imagine this dish as a pizza. But trust me, it was good. I'd recommend it to vegetarians and carnivores alike.
is a carnivore's dream come true.
Filipinos love their pizza. So with their Pinakbet-- a vegetable dish from Ilocos cooked almost everywhere around the country in countless versions.
Choice pork cubes boiled, then fried to a crisp. Served with diced tomatoes and onions sprinkled with the local "bagoong"
or fermented fish paste, this dish is as Ilocano as Ilocano can be. And another one for the vegetarians, there's the Poqui-Poqui.
Now, I have to remind you to enunciate every syllable here as the name of the dish sounds obscene to non-Ilocanos. The rest of the Philippines would give you a wink when you say the name of this dish as it bears the same name as that very intimate part of the female anatomy. Aha? Yes, that's how it is called. Locals have shortened the name to 'pokpok"
which by now, is local slang for a "lady of the night" (you know, the kind who sells her 'wares'😉. But by whatever name it is called, this eggplant-onion dish is a good accompaniment to nearly everything else you'd order. We had it with almost every meal we ordered! For something soupy, there is "Dinengdeng"
which combines various vegetables flavored subtly with the local fermented fish paste. Not salty at all, but this soupy vegetable dish can replace any vegetable salad you may be thinking of having to complete your
Choice pork cubes are first boiled, then fried to a crisp till its skin "bubbles". Served with cubed tomatoes and onions sprinkled with the local "bagoong" or shrimp paste.
meal. Lastly, the "Dinuguan" or "Dinardaraan"
is not for everyone. I would even venture to add it is an acquired taste. Many would balk at this pork blood stew especially as it's all black except for the green pepper which adorns the dish. If you are adventurous and visiting the country for the first time, I suggest you try it. You will find dinuguan almost everywhere around the country, but here in Ilocos, they have the crispy version. Yummy.
How To Burn All That Lunch?
There are various tourist sites to visit around this area. Rather than suffer the long 10hour drive from Manila, the 1 hour flight (especially with the many promo rates offered by PAL and Cebu Pacific) from Manila to Laoag City is the better option. If you are in a group, it makes sense to hire a van (3,500 pesos or US $ 80 for a group of 12) you can use for the next 8 hours or so rather than break up in four's to take the local pedicabs or tricycles. No time wasted with a hired van.
There is Malacanang of the North
. Malacanang is the name of
The vegetarians score with this eggplant and onion dish which goes well with almost anything. Also called "Pok Pok" but I must warn you that both poqui poqui and pokpok have sensual undertones. :))
the Presidential Palace by the banks of the Pasig River in Manila, but during the time of ex-President Ferdinand Marcos, another Palace was built fronting the lovely Paoay Lake. And then there's the Marcos Mausoleum in Batac, Ilocos Norte
and farther down, the Juan Luna Shrine in Badoc.
Up North , there is Bangui Windmills, Cape Bojeador, Kapurpurawan Rock Formation and Pagudpud Beach.
Right within the city, there is Ilocos Museum
and you can also idle the time away in a casino in Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel
. Lots of choices for the tourists.
But if you really want to burn that energy from lunch and have little time to spare, why not go to the La Paz Sand Dunes
? Just a half hour away, this is like no man's land. Desert-like in charm. If you like to visit, be sure to make arrangements so you can go sand cruising either on a board or on an ATV. Some go off roading in this area. There is even an Offroading Competition in this area but I am not aware of its schedule.
Since it's been raining, we took advantage of the lull and ventured under cloudy
A typical Ilocano dish. Very frugal in terms of ingredients, yet so rich in its subtle flavors. Love this soupy dish of stringbeans, squash flowers, bitter melon, subtly flavored with shrimp paste.
skies. It was dry, but not as hot nor humid. There was even a good breeze when we visited. Not bad. Both adults and kids had fun climbing up and down the dunes, sinking their feet in the sand, and simply just enjoying the view from the summit. Depending on the time of year and of course the weather, go and visit the La Paz Sand Dunes and burn off all that energy! Here's an earlier blog entry on Northern Philippines:
Northern Philippines: A Spanish Heritage
Tot: 2.891s; Tpl: 0.062s; cc: 13; qc: 45; dbt: 0.0399s; 2; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb