BANTAY CHURCH BELL TOWER

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The imposing tower on top of  the hill near the Nuestra Senora de Caridad Church in Bantay serves both as a bellfry and a watch tower.  It was erected way back in 1591-1592.
Its location  offers a vantage view  of  Vigan and its neighboring towns. The Banaoang bridge can also be seen on broad daylight. 
enclosed is the Banaoang bridge
view of Bantay and Vigan from the bell tower
 Visitors can limb up  the spiral stairs and see up close the bells. There's one big bell at the middle and some smaller bells hanged around.Like any other bell church towers ,its spiraling stairs get steeper as it gets higher.  Those who are suffering from vertigo or have fear of heights are not advisable to climb.
If I am not mistaken, some scenes of  the famous Filipino movie "Ang Panday" were shot here. I am referring  to the original versions wherein the equally famous actor, Fernando Poe, Jr. was the main protagonists. Today it is now a tourist attraction and part of the Bantay  Church's Pilgrimage site. 



Read my other posts on my Ilocos Sur series

1.  Historic Town Of Vigan
2. Vigan City Attractions and Festivals
3.  Calle Crisologo| Vigan Heritage Village
4. Buridek Children's Museum
5. Vigan Cathedral| St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral
6. Apo Caridad Pilgrimage Site| Bantay's Best Kept Secret
7. Bantay Church Bell Tower
8. Vigan Dancing Fountain and Laser Lights Show
9. Baluarte| A Zoo in the Historic Town of Vigan
10. Discovering Vigan's Hidden Garden
11. Pagburnayan| Vigan Jar Factory



BANTAY CHURCH|ST. AUGUSTINE PARISH CHURCH

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The Saint Augustine Parish Church in Bantay, Ilocos Sur was built in 1590 by the Augustinian Friars, thus the name of the church. According to history, in 1763 the Ilocano hero, Diego Silang lead an uprising to the site where the church stands. The structure was damaged during World War II and was reconstructed in 1950.
The church's facade after its reconstruction boasts of  a neo-gothic design mixed with pseudo-Romanesque elements. On June 12,1956,  Msgr. Vagnozzi thePapal Nuncio to the Philippines crowned the Miraculous image of Our Lady of Charity  also locally known as Apo Caridad and the church was consequently became the  Shrine of our Lady of Charity. In between 1591-1592 the belltower was erected on the hill very near the church.
 
Bro. Bing Padua, one of the tour guides of the Apo Caridad pilgrimage site , recounted that the image of Our Lady of Charity otherwise known as Nuestra Senora de Caridad was  found by fishermen floating in the Bantaoay river in Bantaoay, the village bordering  the towns of San Ildefonso and Bantay. Residents of neighboring towns and provinces came to take the image that was placed  inside a wooden box but to no avail. No one was able to move the precious cargo even a bit. Apparently, only the people of Bantay can move and carry the image thus it became the town's Patron Saint. They later on named it Our Lady of Charity because of Her numerous miracles to her devotees. 
 

  




APO CARIDAD PILGRIMAGE SITE: BANTAY' BEST KEPT GEM

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When I was still a kid I would equate the town of Bantay as the town where the makers of jewelries can be found. My mom would always go to Bantay to  buy jewelries from the goldsmiths of  the town ,send these  to her friend in the USA and  she sell these to  her friends . On some occasions ,when she would  let me accompany her, I would go around the shop and admire all the beautiful gems on display. A few months back I visited the town again  or its more of I toured a friend who was visiting the province for the first time. I was really amazed when I went  inside the Saint Augustine Parish Church. I've been here before but this time it was totally different. 
 
The church famous is also very famous of its  Bell tower. I had already climbed the tower countless times. .. Surprised but  as we went down from the Bell Tower , a tour guide was  already waiting for us at the gate of  church's side courtyard and he would later on became our photographer. Bro. Anthony, our tour guide  showed  us the grotto located  just beside the church before  leading us to the church's main altar. As we were walking towards the altar I noticed that the statue of the town's patron Saint,  Nuestra Senora Caridad also known as Apo CAridad had been turned around so that Her back was turned towards us (Apo, by the way , is an Ilocano word which means   God and/or holy, it is also use as a sign  of  respect.) When we reached the back of the altar, Bro. Anthony told us that the statue of Apo Caridad can be turned around  so pilgrims can see Her up close and touch Her.
Apo Caridad up close
 (Read more about the Saint Augustine Church here:)

Near the church's main door entrance is a chapel. I am not  sure though  if this is also the Adoration Chapel but it is a good spot for meditation and prayer. 
 
Another door, just directly opposite the door where we first entered coming from the Bell tower is another leads to   the Art Gallery . On booth sides of the alley are different religious artifacts and arts. The most interesting  among the artworks is the huge portrait of Jesus Christ crowned with torns. When you stand and look up  at the portrait, its as if He is looking at you too.  
 
 
Not to be missed in the pilgrimage site is the Chapel by the ruins. It is an open air chapel set in the ruins right beside the church. There's a  bell at the entrance that tourists must ring  according to our guide. 
 
After our pilgrimage tour, I realized that all this years the church had hidden its real gem. Tourists would  come   here to climb the bell tower or maybe they stop here  because it's part of their Vigan city itinerary . little did we know that its real beauty is actually hidden in plain sight. Thanks to all those  who are behind this project, we can now see its splendor and glory.

Note: Pilgrimage site tour is free of charge but don't forget to give donation for   maintenance purposes.



Read my other posts on my Ilocos Sur series

1.  Historic Town Of Vigan
2. Vigan City Attractions and Festivals
3.  Calle Crisologo| Vigan Heritage Village
4. Buridek Children's Museum
5. Vigan Cathedral| St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral
6. Apo Caridad Pilgrimage Site| Bantay's Best Kept Secret
7. Bantay Church Bell Tower
8. Vigan Dancing Fountain and Laser Lights Show
9. Baluarte| A Zoo in the Historic Town of Vigan
10. Discovering Vigan's Hidden Garden
 11. Pagburnayan| Vigan Jar Factory







WHERE TO EAT IN SAGADA

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Though Sagada is located some 1500 meters  above sea level, food choices are abundant. There are several restaurants to choose from. Some of these that I tried myself were the following:

Pinikpikan House - as the name of the restaurant suggest their specialty is   pinikpikan. Pinikpikan is a local dish and very famous in the Cordillera region. it got its name from the word "pikpik" meaning light beating.  It is like a chicken stew/soup but the big difference is the way the chicken was prepared. According to  a friend who was born and  raised in the province, the live chicken should be beaten with a stick before cooking. This  process keeps the blood inside the chicken avoiding less blood spill when cut. Preferably use native chicken because its meat is tastier compared to a broiler chicken. When the chicken is already without life, tossed it into a fire to burned off the feather and clean it afterwards cut it to pieces. They  use Etag or Itag to add  flavor to the water. Etag is a sun dried meat also a famous local dish in the region.  For commercial purposes, they put vegetables as an added recipe just like what the Pinikpikan House served  us. The restaurant also have other dishes to choose from including set meals. At the back of the restaurant are  beehives which the owner gladly showed to us. 
pinikpikan
Yogurt House -  one of the more famous restaurant in town is the Yogurt House. The restaurant's specialty is of course, yogurt. Their menu consisted mostly of western based foods. So, don't be surprise if you see many foreigners dining here.
yogurt with blueberry
clubhouse sandwich
Tip: If you plan to eat here  be sure to be at the restaurant  way ahead of meal time or better  yet don't come here when you are already hungry because waiting time to be seated  is really long especially during peak season. They don't accept reservation. In our case we waited almost one and half hour. By the time we were seated it was already half an hour before they close and some of the menus are not available anymore. Their prices compared to other restaurants are much higher. 
 
Gecko Inn -  I included this in the list because the hostel have its own restaurant in shade of pink and it was in this inn were I tasted a delicious -flavorful- fried chicken. It was cooked by the hostel's owner.  I'm not sure though  if they also serve to non guests. 
 Tip: Sagada is implementing curfew beginning at 9:00pm. By this time the shops and restaurants are already closing their stores. At 10:00 pm it is already like a deserted town.

Click Here for Sagada Itineraries, tours and fees.



Read my other stories on Sagada:

Read my other stories on Sagada:
1. Sagada Fellowship
2. Sagada Tours and Fees
3. Where to Eat in Sagada
4. Where to stay in Sagada: Gecko Inn
5. Sagada's Hanging Coffins
6. Chasing Waterfalls: Bomod-ok falls and Bokong Falls
7. Sagada Cave Connection: Conquering my Fears
8. Echo Valley Tour| Sagada

VIGAN CATHEDRAL|ST. PAUL METROPOLITAN CATHEDRAL

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One of the most photographed landmark in Vigan is the St.Paul Metropolitan Cathedral or simply the Vigan Cathedral.


The cathedral is more locally known as  "Simbaan nga Dakkel" (Big Church). Yes, there's also a" Simbaan nga Bassit"or Small Curch in Vigan which is actually a cemetery chapel. All religious festivities are celebrated at the Simbaan nga Dakkel except the "Tres de Mayo" which is held annually at the Simbaan nga Bassit. It would help if you say the their sizes( big or small)  when taking the public transportation so they can take you right away to the  church you wish to visit.
Its history dates back centuries ago when  the Spanish conqueror and founder of Vigan Juan De Salcedo who ordered to built a chapel on 1574. Its very simple structure was made of wood making it susceptible to natural calamities, an earthquake destroyed the chapel two times in 1619 and 1627. It was reconstructed on 1641, this time a church but on 1739 it was engulfed with fire and was reconstructed again. It became a cathedral when the seat of the Nueva Segovia was transferred from Lallo, Cagayan to Vigan in 1758. In fact, the official residence of the Archbishop of Nueva Segovia named Episcopal Palace  is located right next to the cathedral.   It was on 1786 when  Gov. Jose De Basco instructed to build a new building. Years later, January 3, 1790 to be exact, the cornerstones were laid out. In 1800, a decade  later, the new cathedral was finally completed. It is the same structure we see today. 
Archbishop Palace
confessional
they use these during processions
 
 Because of its history of earthquakes, the Ilocanos fortified the building making it less prone to earthquakes thus its design is called Earthquake Baroque but its style is of neo gothic and pseudo Romanesque with Chinese influence.
 

The interior walls are exactly the same  centuries ago. It features  includes 12 small altars, 1 choir loft and 3 naves. On the main altar is a brass communion rail.  Churchgoers would line up before the brass rail  and kneel down   when taking the communion but this practice was long been abolished.
 
one of the twelve mini altars
 
one of the many statues inside the cathedral
 A Chinese lion dogs or fu dogs can be seen on its facade. At the  center right is the statue of St. Paul riding on  a horse. Just above the doorway is an alcove with paintings of the history of His conversion. 
 

And what would be a church without a bell fry? The  25 meters bell tower is topped by a bronze weathercock as a sign of homage to St. Peter. It  is located in Plaza Burgos, just a few steps away. 


Read my other posts on my Ilocos Sur series

1.  Historic Town Of Vigan
2. Vigan City Attractions and Festivals
3.  Calle Crisologo| Vigan Heritage Village
4. Buridek Children's Museum
5. Vigan Cathedral| St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral
6. Apo Caridad Pilgrimage Site| Bantay's Best Kept Secret
7. Bantay Church Bell Tower
8. Vigan Dancing Fountain and Laser Lights Show
9. Baluarte| A Zoo in the Historic Town of Vigan
10. Discovering Vigan's Hidden Garden
11. Pagburnayan| Vigan Jar Factory

 



BURIDEK CHILDREN'S MUSEUM

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Buridek Children's  Museum: A children's museum in the country's most child friendly city.

On the 8th day of September in 2008, the historical city of Vigan Inaugurated the Buridek Children's Museum. It is the first children's museum in Northern Luzon and only the third in the whole country. The other two are the Museo Pambata in Manila and the Museo Sang Bata  Sa Negros in Sagay City, Negros Occidental. 
The museum's name "Buridek "  which means younger sibling    is located inside the Mira Hills Fil-Hispanic Friendship Park or more locally known as just  Mira Hills. The park in itself is already a tourist attraction. There's the recently opened zip line that   would surely delight the kids, a swimming pool and picnic tables for the whole family or just sit, relax and enjoy the lush greenery. The  tall concrete structure which in fact is a water reservoir would surely ignite tourist's curiosity. For parties and other occasions the sprawling  park would be a perfect venue. Its  souvenir shop sells various memorabilia. 
 
The establishment of the  Buridek Museum only manifest Vigan's  advocacy to be a child friendly  city. Proof is, it's already relegated to the Hall of Fame status for winning the "Most Child Friendly Component City in the Philippines" for three consecutive years. 

Note: All photos used in this post are courtesy of  Raissa Villanueva and the Buridek Children's Museum. Raissa is the manager of the museum.For more information, visit their Facebook Fanpage ...



Read my other posts on my Ilocos Sur series

1.  Historic Town Of Vigan
2. Vigan City Attractions and Festivals
3.  Calle Crisologo| Vigan Heritage Village
4. Buridek Children's Museum
5. Vigan Cathedral| St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral
6. Apo Caridad Pilgrimage Site| Bantay's Best Kept Secret
7. Bantay Church Bell Tower
8. Vigan Dancing Fountain and Laser Lights Show
9. Baluarte| A Zoo in the Historic Town of Vigan
10. Discovering Vigan's Hidden Garden
11. Pagburnayan| Vigan Jar Factory


CALLE CRISOLOGO|VIGAN HERITAGE VILLAGE

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Undoubtedly ,this  famous street   helped  Vigan made its way to the list of  UN Historical Sites. 
The  length of the street is paved with cobble stone. On both sides are centuries old Spanish houses. Though the buildings were built hundred years ago, its European architecture is still very visible. Truly, Vigan is making a  great effort to preserve its grandeur.  Most of these buildings have   Capiz windows and large doors.
 
 
 Calle Crisologo and Plaridel street forms the Vigan Heritage Village. This place was used to be the residence of the the affluent  families. Today, some of the house's lower floors  are converted into  souvenir shops and eateries while the second floors are still residential.  
 
The street was named after the famous Ilokano writer, Mena Pecson Crisologo. If my memory serves me right , it was  called Mena Crisologo Street before its inclusion in the UN Historical List of Sites. Famous literary personality, Leona Florentino, owned a house here. She lived on the first house of the street , right in front is her statue. Today the said house is now the Provincial Tourism Office and a restaurant on its ground floor.
Even this historical street is not spared from traffic especially during holidays and fiestas because of too many tourists and the kalesas. Kalesas or horse drawn carriages are the only allowed mode of transportation.  All motorized vehicles must take another routes. 
 
Tip: I would recommend strolling the street before it gets dark so you can see its beauty during the day and night.




Read my other posts on my Ilocos Sur series

1.  Historic Town Of Vigan
2. Vigan City Attractions and Festivals
3.  Calle Crisologo| Vigan Heritage Village
4. Buridek Children's Museum
5. Vigan Cathedral| St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral
6. Apo Caridad Pilgrimage Site| Bantay's Best Kept Secret
7. Bantay Church Bell Tower
8. Vigan Dancing Fountain and Laser Lights Show
9. Baluarte| A Zoo in the Historic Town of Vigan
10. Discovering Vigan's Hidden Garden
11. Pagburnayan| Vigan Jar Factory