paoay, oh why?!
We entered the town of Paoay and I immediately noticed silence, like someone pressed the mute button. I checked my wrist watch to make sure it wasn’t siesta. It felt like we were entering a movie set of Shake, Rattle and Roll and I was compelled to give my friends a second look to make sure I am not not with Ana Roces, Manilyn Reynes, Rez Cortes and Lilia Cuntapay.
I was half expecting that the following events will involve ominous looking local villagers, a creepy banga (earthen pot), and ME being the main dish for the night’s feast. It was that quiet. It only made sense when I realized that it was Pacman day, and everyone was hooked on the television watching Manny’s anticipated win.
So, we searched for a public television and joined the the rest of mankind in cheering for the pre-determined victory Hoorah while I, devoured a mound of Philippines’ best empanada drenched in oil and Ilocos’ famed vinegar, sukang iloko!
Photo by JJ Antiojo
MANDATORY PAUSE… take some time to salivate!
Paoay is well known for its crown jewel. The 300 year old oriental baroque church of St. Augustine is one of the four declared by the Unesco World Herit–blah blah blah I bet you know it already.
Well if you don’t, Google it, this is not Wikipedia!
This structure is so enigmatic, Why?
What interest me with this church is its structure. We were standing right in front of it for couple of minutes then my eye played on the structure’s facade and its visual register. I covered the lower half of the church with my hand and, Alas! I knew it! It looks like a Khmer ziggurat. This fortified the legends that there was an older pre-colonial structure built on the exact same spot of the current church.
I stretched my hands and covered the bilateral half of it and saw a Mount Meru pyramid. That’s when the spirit of to Robert Langdon possessed me. I had a flash back to my Philippine history class back in UP, our professor once mentioned that Ilocos Norte’s first inhabitants were Chinese, Indonesian and Indians.
The same craftsmen that chiseled the coral bricks of this church may have fused european baroque and inspirations from a previous structure. But as to this point, there’s no concrete archeological proof of the indian temple myth other than the manuscript mentioning “Bombay” referring to Paoay’s old name giving historians a clue as where the first inhabitants came from… CLUE? ah DUH!
I quit my little autism-game when I started to smell something was burning. That was me, I was burning under the broiling heat of the 11:30 sun. We found refuge inside the the Fourteen coral stone buttresses that serve as effective insulators, I lit a candle and pretended to pray. It was so quiet, my mind refused to function.
Time here is so slow, Why?
Paoay’s charm is not like the usual tourist destinations of Northern Luzon, it has a feel of weathered opulence. The pace of the town is so easy and laid back, It felt like God punished me to be living in a city with all its harshness, not to mention rude residents. Unlike other quaint places in the country like Sagada, Dupax and Caluya, Paoay is relatively big for a 4th class municipality. But quaint doesn’t have to be small, Paoay may be big, but the feel of the town will transport you back to the past.
Not a lot of history were written, Why?
Smaller barangays posses the same old provincial charm and enigmatic ambiance that could be the reason why time move slower in this part of the world. People from the past may have been attenuated by the wind blowing from the South China Sea, and instead of documenting down their history, they opted to rest in their backyards and enjoyed watching time pass by. I couldn’t blame them.
Little were written, there is no recorded documents of activities earlier than 1700. Except for some Legends that were passed down from generations to generations. Like the legend of the Lake. Tale says that the lake used to be a prosperous town of rich people adorned in jewelries and fine clothing. The villagers thrived in wealth until their material possessions clouded their connection to God. An old lady warned the people that the village will be destroyed, but they just laughed at her. Night came and a clapping thunder started rolling from all directions. Flood swallowed the city and its dwellers as their cries died out in the merciless darkness of the night.
In this modern time, town folks are swearing to see remnants of the structures at the bottom of the lake, and if you’re lucky, you may be able to retrieve gold articles once worn by the damned residents.
But we were infuriated, Why?
A colonial themed restaurant in front of the Paoay church serves Italian and local favorites. Herencia de Paoay tweaked it a bit fused the two cuisine to come up with this interesting entree… The pinakbet pizza!
And this is OUR photo stolen by http://www.pagudpud-ilocos.com/paoay.html. Yes! It was stolen, they did not ask for permission and the least thing they could have done is to give credit. BUT THEY EVEN CROPPED OUT OUR WATERMARK!