Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Today, I wanted to see (I almost forgot this) the famous St. Augustine Parish Church (a.k.a. Bantay Church) and belltower.  I don’t want to tire myself with hasty tours, squeezing in several sights in a day, I wanted to have a moment, am getting old and been to all those exhausting hastened tours during my youthful years traveling in big cities.  This is my country, and maybe my final travel destination, so I’m slowing it down.  Besides, I have all the time in the world right now, so to speak.

I hailed a tricycle in front of my hotel and made sure I have 10 pesos coin on my pocket.  I hate being taken advantage of, not that I’m becoming stingy, most travelers are, but it’s just that I hate the feeling, I’m sure you know what I mean.  I’m in my very own country for goodness sake.  If I was defrauded in a foreign land which by the way seldom happens, that’s acceptable, but in my own country?  That’s silly. 

Statue of Virgin Mary with the bellfry on the background

Facade of Bantay Church

The tricycle driver dropped me in front of the church, paid him 10 pesos and sped away.  Travel time from Vigan’s heritage village to Bantay Church is a little more than 5 minutes.

The bell tower is up on a hill just beside the church, pay the obligatory donation, take the wide stairs on the lawn leading to its entrance, and two sets of stairs leading up to the top of the tower – two flights concrete, two flights wooden stairs.

There are 4 small bells hanging on each windows of the tower and a big one in the mid.  Mind your head on the last flight of wooden stair just before you reached the top as the side of the big bell hangs an inch or two on the stairs, careful not hitting it with your head (or the other way around?).  There’s a staff up there telling you that, but just in case no one is there.

Interior of Bantay Church.

Bells on top of the bell tower. 

I stayed on top for an hour or so, I like it there, windy, quite, and had a nice talk with two tourists, discussing travels and life, hmmm, the mood on top is conducive to meaningful conversations.  They took a bus to Ilocos and heading back to Manila before the night is over.  That was a hasty plan.  An almost half a day bus trip each way and not spending a night?  Quite a waste.  One of the girl told me that it was just an impromptu decision, like something is directing her to come to Vigan.  A supernatural force of sort? I don't know.  I somehow suddenly felt like, maybe, mine is similar.  Something is compelling me to travel, and I feel like I'm not going to end this trip so soon.

Anyhoo, it was nice having someone to chat with amidst the calm and comforting fresh air caressing your cheeks on top of that bell tower.

The big bell suspended in the mid of the bellfry.

Brief Info:

The Saint Augustine Parish Church, commonly known as Bantay Church, is a Roman Catholic church in the Municipality of Bantay, Ilocos Sur province in the Philippines. The church is also known as the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity (Nuestra SeƱora de La Caridad) housing the miraculous image of Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Charity, crowned as the patroness of Ilocandia on January 12, 1956. The church was named after its patron saint St. Augustine of Hippo.  The old historic belfry of the church known as the Bantay Tower, which served as a watchtower for pirates back in the Spanish colonial era, gave the town its name - bantay (meaning to guard). Established in 1590, the church is one of the oldest in the Ilocos Region. [Wikipedia]


St. Augustine (Bantay) Church and Belltower
Tricycle fare from Vigan centrum – Bantay

How to get there:
Bantay is a municipality in Ilocos Sur, just beside the heritage town of Vigan.  Around 7 hours by bus from the capital city of Manila. 

From Vigan heritage village, take any tricycle (or passing tricycle)  and tell the driver to take you to Bantay Church.  Pay 10 pesos / head, in 5 minutes you're there.

Continuation of the day's itinerary - Sta. MariaChurch.


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