The following photos (and a bit of text) are about the various churches we were able to visit while we were at Ilocos. These churches, all built during the time the country was still under Spanish rule, were built in the Earthquake Baroque style.
Bantay Church and Bantay Tower (Belfry)
The Bantay Church is a Roman Catholic Church located in Bantay, Ilocos Sur. It’s official name is Saint Augustine Parish Church but the church is also known as the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity (Shrine of Nuestra Señora de la Caridad).
Established in 1590, the church is one of the oldest in the Ilocos Region. It is said that the belfry served as a watch tower for pirates during the Spanish period which led to it being called Bantay (to watch) Tower. The town was subsequently named after it.
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The Laoag Cathedral had its humble beginnings in 1580. It started off as a small chapel, established by the Augustinians, that was made of wood and thatch. In 1612 the foundations of the current church was laid.
The Cathedral, canonically known as Saint William Cathedral, is also known for its Sinking Bell Tower (image below), which is supposed to sink at a rate of an inch a year. The tower was supposedly built after an earthquake in 1707.
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One of the more popular and probably most visited churches in the Ilocos Region is the Paoay Church, also known as the Saint Augustine Church. This church was completed in 1710 with enormous buttresses (24 of them) on the sides and rear of the building.
In 1973, the Paoay Church, with its massive walls made of large coral stones and brick (our guide said that the facade turns pink when the dying rays of the sun hits it at a particular angle), was declared a National Cultural Treasure. Twenty years later, it was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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The “youngest” of the churches we visited was the Sarrat Church, also known as the Santa Monica Parish Church. Completed in 1779, Sarrat, originally known as the San Miguel Church, is the largest church in the Ilocos Norte region. It has a ling nave, a convent connected to the church by a three-level brick stairway, courtyards and (rumour has it) “torture chambers” used by the inquisitors during the Spanish era.
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We also had a chance to visit the Vigan Cathedral. While the 1st temporary chapel was built in 1574, the more permanent structure wasn’t constructed until 1641. Since there was a mass being celebrated when we were at Vigan Cathedral, out of respect, we didn’t take any photos while we were there.