Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Miagao, or Miag-ao, while having the distinction of being the largest municipality in the Philippines with a total of 119 barangays, it is very remote, being approximately 40 km southwest of Iloilo City.
This remoteness helped Miagao from the frequent raids by pirates in the 16th to mid 1800's that plagued a lot of her neighbors and even caused whole town-centers to relocate in the opposite direction towards Iloilo City. Thus Miagao and its surrounding area grew without hinderance and with little outside influenece, acquired a distictiveness that is unique even in comparision to other towns in the Philippines, and this can be readily seen in the layout of the town proper and the relaxed attitude of the locals, who call themeselves Miagaowanons.
Miagao is home to the Miag-ao Church, built in 1786 and declared a national landmark in 1973 by UNESCO's World Heritage List, no visit to the Philippines is complete without seeing it. While Spain and the Catholic Church had a very strong influence in the Philippines for over 300 years, Miag-ao Church is a microcosm of the blending of these and native influences which can readily be seen in the central pryamidial front flanked by two watch-tower belfries.
The central feature of the bas-relief facade on the front of the Church is a large coconut tree which reaches almost to the top of the Church apex. The coconut tree, while an integral part of the Philippine landscape is also that of lore, and according to an old Philippine legend, the coconut tree was the only bequest left by a loving mother to her two children, a tree which sustained them for life, and on the Church facade the coconut tree appears as the "tree of life" to which St. Christopher carrying the Child Jesus on his shoulder is clinging onto. The lesser facades feature the daily life of Miagaowanons during the time.
Every year there on Easter Sunday the Church conducts Mass and the whole town has a grand festival that lasts several days.
Miagao is also the location of the University of the Philippines'(UP) Western Visayas Campus. The Miagao Campus lies on a sprawling 12 km² of gently sloping hills. This is the only UP College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences with a focus on aquaculture, fish processing, natural products development, and post-harvest/food science majors. The UP faculty normally consist of national artists, prize-winning writers, renowned scholars and scientists with an average 1:10 to 1:12 teacher-student ratio and except for some graduate programs, the university does not have separate faculties for undergraduate and graduate students. In the late 1970's and early 1980's Thailand and Cambodia sent numerous exchange students to UP Miagao to study fish and rice production, and after graduating returned home where, to the pride and embarassment of the Philippines, began out-producing and out-exporting the Philippines in these commodities.
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