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Tuesday, October 8

Bantay Church and the Belfry: Reminiscent Structures of Ilocos

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Bantay Church in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

When you hear the place “Vigan”, your mind automatically thinks of a place where old structures rest. Pieces of jigsaw are likened to the deep-rooted buildings and towers of this northern city which make up a heritage site. One reason of visiting Vigan City is to see its antique structures, such as the St. Augustine Church in Bantay District (or simply Bantay Church) and its famous Bantay Belfry. Who will forget a scenic bell tower that rose from a hilly part in Vigan?

The Vigan-Laoag-Pagudpud Ilocos Triple Combo One-Day Panalo Trip!

Bantay Belfry
The Bantay Church and Belfry was our second destination after a fast-paced kalesa tour from Vigan Cathedral near Plaza Salcedo, passing by the Capitol and some old buildings. Bantay Church is near the city center, but it is not a walking distance. So if you are not on a kalesa tour, then probably you can hire a trike to get you there. This is one of the must see tourist attractions in the city.

Bantay is not the dog name we used to hear during our school days. “Bantay” means the mountains, or somewhere it is a far-flung place with an overlooking site. It is an Ilocano word. Basically, by the time I wrote this article, I was on a “bantay”, however it was a city called Baguio. No wonder they call it Bantay District, or the Bantay Belfry because the place itself is a hilly part in Vigan. The belfry was erected on a hill where you can actually get to see a glimpse of the overview of the nearby lands.

Manong kalesa driver dropped us off the entrance of Bantay Church. However, it was an untimely day that there was an ongoing wedding mass or event (or I can’t remember if that was a wedding or a funeral mass). Hence, I was not able to see the inside of the church. But looking at the deep brown, neo-gothic façade of the church, it was an astounding piece of information penetrating my imagination—Ilocos Sur is really rich in history that it was able to preserve one of the oldest surviving churches in the whole province. It was anciently beautiful and I think Panday movies and other historic films were shot in this place.

Religious icon before the church

Neo-gothic facade of Bantay Church

Entrance to the church

The church has already withstood several natural catastrophes. Yet it was still standing. There is no entrance fee going to the belfry, however there is a donation desk before the church where maybe you can drop some coins for the maintenance of this ancient landmark in Ilocos. The belfry is scenic, seriously. It was like a masterpiece of the old arts. The time we visited I was not able to get to see the nearer belfry, because it was far and it was a scorching hot summer day. Even if I want to spend more time to take pictures, I was not able to do so because we had a limited time. Remember, this the most haggard trip ever, packing Vigan, Laoag and Pagudpud in one day. Seriously, it was not a good idea to jam pack everything in just one day. But well, if you are tight enough to do it in one day, go ahead.
The beautiful Bantay Belfry in Ilocos Sur

Bantay Belfry, Ilocos Sur

The Bantay Belfry is just one of the living legends that make up the entirety of the old city of Vigan. The church was built in 1590, and would you believe it was reconstructed in the year 1950? See the interchange of digits? The belfry also served as the watchtower of the people of Vigan in case there are attacking invaders.

Like I said, it is an old piece of beauty. But well, we have to leave the Bantay Church and Belfry for our next destination which is Calle Crisologo.

Kalesas waiting near Bantay Church

Old house near Bantay Church

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