Friday, March 07, 2014

Friday, March 07, 2014

Climbed down the stairs of the Bantay belltower and looking at my cellphone’s time, it sure is still early in the afternoon, it’s a precious time to waste.  I forgot who it was who told me about this nice church, aah, I saw the black&white photo at the Burgos Museum and was recommended by the curator there, so I decided to head to Sta. Maria, a town 45 minutes from Vigan.  

I entered the 711 just down the church along the main road, bought a bottle of water and “siopao” for a snack, while paying I asked the cashier how to get to Santa Maria.  Two ways – any of those big provincial buses going to Manila will pass by the town of Sta. Maria, and then, there are the vans parked right in front of 711 going to Tagudin passing by exactly in front of the church.  The latter though may take sometime to fill.  I took the van, I told the driver of course to drop me exactly near the church, it stopped right in front.

Van is in front 711 going to Santa Maria Church.

The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption (Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion), like most churches in Ilocos is in baroque architecture and built in 1765.  It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

This church has a dramatic setting on top of a hill with wide 85 steps of granite rock stairs leading up which reminded me of the Spanish Steps leading to Trinità dei Monti in Piazza De Spagna in Rome, though that one has more winding and wider stairs where throng of people congregate.  The beautiful bell tower beside the church was built in 1810. I like this church better than the previous ones I’ve visited, in that, it has an imposing setting.

Santa Maria Church with its belltower.

There's a line of street food vendor very near the church along the main road, and I'm a sucker for streetfood, ordered a piece of Ilocos staple merienda (snack), the Empanada and a bottle of water, I'm really craving for a bottle of coke but the chorus of voices kept ringing in my brain - "Diabetes".  I was diagnosed few months back, and I just love sugary drinks and ice cream.

The altar of Santa Maria Church.

Stairs at the back of the church.

Tip:  Always have 10 pesos or small change in your pocket for tricycle fares if you don’t want to pay more, and, here’s what I’ve found out from the receptionist at my hotel which was confirmed by the pharmacist at Generics Drug near the plaza – if you hail a tricycle running along the road, they charge the normal fare (10 pesos minmum), the parked ones charges more (20 pesos up).

Brief Info:
The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption (Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion), commonly known as the Santa Maria Church is the parish church of Santa Maria in Ilocos Sur province, Philippines. The church was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on December 11, 1993 as part of the Baroque Churches of the Philippines, a collection of four Baroque Spanish-era churches. [Wikipedia]

Sta. Maria Church (Sta. Maria town)
Van fare from Bantay – Sta. Maria Church
Van fare from Sta. Maria – Vigan centrum
Vigan Hotel – (Php395 / night) located at the back of the cathedral and less than a minute walk to Calle Crisologo, Plaza Salecedo and Burgos and a leisure walk to most sights in Vigan.  Economy room, non-aircon, shared bath, very simple with TV.
Telephone: +63 (77) 722.19.06
Mob.: +63 9155498753

How to get there: 
You can take a bus that’s going to Manila from the corner down the road from Bantay Church or the airconditioned van parked in front of 711 at the side of the gate.  Pay 50 pesos one-way, 45-minute travel time.  From Sta. Maria Church back to Vigan, same vans or buses pass along the road in front of the fruit stands and street food stalls.


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