Construction of the present Miagao Church (Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Church) was started on a Saturday, the town's market day, in December 1786, half a century after the founding of the Miagao parish. It was declared as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Baroque Churches of the Philippines" in 1993.
The town's first church building was constructed in Ubos by Nicolas Pangkug, first capitan of the town. The church was completed three years before the first Spanish priest came in 1734, but this was burned by the Muslim pirates in 1741. The second church was constructed under the leadership of Parish Priest Fray Fernando Camporedondo (1746-1747). This church was also burned and looted by the pirates. They decided to build a third church in Tacas where the townsfolk have a commanding view of the mouth of the Miagao river, the usual route followed by the pirates in entering the town. This church still stands after defying elements and catastrophies for two centuries.
The blocks of stones used in the construction of the church were quarried at Sitio Tubog in nearby San Joaquin town and in the mountains of the town of Igbaras. In baroque-romanesque style, the church sinks six (6) meters deep into the ground with walls one-and-a-half (1 1/2) meters thick and buttresses thrice thicker in size.
Its artistic facade is decorated witha relief sculpture of St. Christopher carrying the Christ child amidst coconut, papaya and guava shrubs. A large stone image of St. Thomas of Villanova, parish patron saint, dominates the center. Carved life-size statues of the Pope and St. Henry with their coat-of-arms above them flank the main entrance. Supporting the facade are the twin belfries, one towering two-storeys and the other three-storeys high.
According to an old Philippine legend, the coconut tree was the only bequest from a loving mother to her two children, a tree which sustained them for life. On the church's facade the coconut tree appears as the "tree of life" to which St. Christopher carrying the Child Jesus on his shoulder is clinging to. The lesser facades feature the daily life of Miagaowanons during the time. Also depicted are other native flora and fauna, as well as native dress.
Like any other foreign influences, the architecture of many colonial churches has undergone the process of indigenization. This process is carried out by incorporating the prevailing Hispano-American and Medieval Sapnish architecture with local as well as Muslim and Chinese touches.
History of the Miagao Catholic Church