To boost the ‘Paoay Kumakaway!’ tourism campaign, the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte formally opened on Nov. 12, 2015 the newly-refurbished centuries-old Paoay Convent Ruins as new tourist attraction in the province.
The Ruins opening rites highlighted the weeklong birthday celebration of Governor Imee R. Marcos. In her brief remarks, she said that “this is really a magical day as we bring new life to a building that in the past used to house so many of our priests.”
The Paoay Convent Ruins was previously an abandoned Spanish-type bricks building located just a few meters away from the famous centuries-old Paoay Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is only used as a ‘horror house’ during the Tumba Festival held here every November 1.
In a short message, Monsignor Danilo Laeda revealed that the Paoay Convent Ruins edifice was the official residence of the parish priest of Paoay Church until 1983.
“We had to build annd move to a new residence because Father James Bonoan, the parish priest here in 1983, felt insecured living in the ruins,” he added.
Meanwhile, Governor Marcos said that the 60% of tourists coming to the province are returning visitors thus the development of the Paoay Convent Ruins serves as new attraction for them.
The Paoay Convent Ruins will soon have “a bookstore, a restaurant and souvenir shops.”
The restoration of the Paoay Convent Ruins is a partnership between the PGIN and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Laoag wherein an agreement was reached for the “edifice not to remain as ruins” but to be “developed for practical usage.”
“Ang sabi nila ang restoration ng mga antiques, heritage buildings ay dapat maging adaptation; a renewed adaptation and re-use, rine-recycle pati building na hindi siya sisirain. Aayusin pero kinakailangan na maging makabuluhan at magamit ng taumbayan ng Paoay at buong Ilocos Norte for modern uses,” Governor Marcos said.
Father Laeda also described the Paoay Convent Ruins as “the grandeur and the creativity of the Ilocanos. The Spaniards initiated its establishment but the Ilocanos worked as the master carpenters.”
Aside from the newly-refurbished Paoay Convent Ruins, three new museums are expected to open in the province this November: the Balay Dingras on November 19, Taoid (Heritage) Museum in Laoag and the Burgos Lighthouse Museum on November 21.—(John Michael Mugas, PGIN-CMO)