ILOCOS SUR: BANTAY CHURCH
Another church. This seems to be turning out like a Visita Iglesia. This time, we headed to the town of Bantay, Ilocos Sur. Located at the Northeast of Vigan City, it is considered as the “gateway’ of the province’s capital.
Built in 1590, the St. Augustine Church or Bantay Church is considered one of the oldest churches in Ilocos Sur. Its facade features a Neo-Gothic design mixed with Pseudo-Romanesque elements. It serves as the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de La Caridad, the Queen of Ilocandia. The interior looked expansive. The series of arches automatically leads your eyes to the altar… and it’s exposed ceiling gives you the feeling that it was higher than it actually is.
I sat down a few moments, taking in the sight inside the church. I said short silent prayer, thanking Him for the safe journey. I then noticed that there were a lot of foreign photographers inside the church. More than a few of them carried two cameras with them. (Na-insecure sa nag-hahabang puting lens. Pwede pa kayang humirit ng bagong lens kay Bossing?) It seemed like there was a photo expedition in town.
One thing I love about visiting churches, is watching people light candles. I love photographing the flickering light inside the dimly lit church. In Bantay, the candles are placed inside little clay pots that have holes on the sides. There was a warm reddish glow that seemed to add more solemnity. Standing there, I wondered what the offerors were praying for.
A few meters away from the church is the bell tower perched on a beautifully landscaped hill. And again! there were more steps to climb to get to the tower. It was a choice between staying under the noontime sun or climbing the hill… tho there was staircase leading up right the door of the tower. This time, I didn’t bother counting. I’m not sure whether it was the heat or the climb that got me. I didn’t bother going up the tower anymore. I was contented staying under it’s shadow and out of the sun’s rays. From the food of the tower we had a good view of the church ground. The bell tower also served as a watch tower during World Wars I and II against invading enemies.
If you happen to get one of those guided tours in Vigan via a horse drawn calesa, Bantay church is one of its stops.