The town of Paoay, in Ilocos Norte, was originally called "Bombay". This is because the earliest inhabitants were thought to have come from India.
The earliest historical record of the area dates back to 1593. Paoay became an Augustinian independent parish in 1686, and Augustinian friar, Father Antonio Estavillo commenced the building of the church in 1694. The structure was completed in 1710.
Paoay Church, as it is commonly known, is actually the Church of Saint Augustine. It is a Roman Catholic parish church serving the municipality of Paoay, in Ilocos Norte.
The church was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, particularly as it is one of the finest examples of Baroque Churches to be found anywhere in the Philippines.
The building has enormous buttresses at the sides and back, which gives it its distinctive architecture. The church is splendid example of "Earthquake Baroque architecture", which is the Philippines interpretation of the European Baroque style, which has been adapted to allow for the seismic conditions that are prevalent in the country.
Such destructive earthquakes are relatively common and have destroyed a number of churches in the Philippines down the years. The facade of Paoay Church displays Javanese architecture which is more reminiscent of the Borobudur of Java.