Three hundred years of Spanish colonization means the Philippines has countless 19th century Catholic churches scattered throughout its islands. One such church is set off by a vast, well-manicured lawn—a rarity in the country—in the northern Luzon region, in Paoay town, Ilocos Norte province. Aptly called the Paoay (paa-waay) Church, this UNESCO World Heritage Site features immense, detailed stone buttresses as protection from the many earthquakes that plague the Philippines (the country is within the Pacific Ring of Fire).
Inside, the church remains bare and free from fancy, remade facades and altars. Right across is a public elementary school, which is why schoolchildren frolicking at the church grounds is a common sight.
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