WE LEAVE BATAC and continue to the town of Paoay four kilometers west. The monotonous views of streetside houses, trees and tall grasses are soon broken by the imposing triangular facade in the distance, that familiar shape of the Paoay Church. Within minutes, we find ourselves under the shadow of an historical landmark, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a prime example of a Spanish colonial architecture.
Paoay Church was first constructed in 1694 using bricks, coral stones, tree sap and lumber. Its label as an “Earthquake Baroque Church” comes from it bearing elements of Baroque architecture but with adaptations to withstand earthquakes, similar to the Borobudur in Indonesia. Each side of the main structure has 12 massive buttresses made with large coral stones for support. The bell tower was separately built from the main building and stands a distance from the main church to avoid damage in case of collapse.
A few minutes tricycle ride from the church and Paoay’s quiet beauty reveals itself. Surrounded by trees and situated on a picturesque spot by the lake, a mansion seduces with its elegance under the golden sunlight. It’s also known by the name with which the family christened it – the Malacañang of the North.
The mansion was the residence of the Marcos family before it was taken by the national government when the former president was removed from power. It was actually Imelda’s birthday gift to his husband on his 60th birthday.
Now visitors are filling the house and creating their own memories of it. The grand rooms overlooking the charming lake oblige those who wander inside to surrender to the lazy morning.