Here are some of the churches I visited in the Ilocos region in 2000 and 2009. I intend to re-visit both Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur soon. Yes, Ilocos Norte’s tourism is at its peak right now, thanks to Governor Imee’s tourism boost. Meanwhile the city of Vigan, Ilocos Sur is another pleasant place to revisit the country’s colonial past from churches to old houses.
Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle. First built by the Agustinian friars in 1574. The current white cathedral is a Baroque style church built in 1790 and was completed in 1800. You can see Chinese influence in the facade as symbolized by the Fu dogs just above the doors in the main entrance. The bell tower stands spearately across the church in Plaza Burgos.
Bantay, Ilocos Sur
Church of St. Agustine
First built in 1691 and restored in 1870. Evacuees took refuge in this church during the Basi Revolt of 1807. This brick church has Baroque, Neo-Gothic and pseudo Romanesque features. The church is the home of Our Lady of Charity, more fondly called Apo Caridad, the miraculous and venerated oldest Marian image in Ilocos. Auntie Jean told us that the image’s face and hands were ivory and it was stolen some time ago.
The Bantay bell tower served as a lookout for approaching enemies during World War I and II. It also offered a wonderful view of the nearby areas including the farmlands, the mountains of Abra and the old cemetery.
Bantay Bell Tower and Apo Caridad. The miraculous image of Our Lady of Charity (to Ilocanos she is Apo Caridad) is enshrined in the church.
Paoay, Ilocos Norte
Paoay Church (Church of St. Agustine)
This church is one of Ilocos Region’s most famous landmark. It is a classic example of Philippine Baroque architecture and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Built from 1609 to 1702 by the Agusitinians. Its 3-storey bell tower served as the Katipuneros’ look out post during the Philippine Revolution and subsequently by the Filipino guerillas during the Second World War.
The church is also known as a Philippine Earthquake Baroque Church. It is built of baked bricks, coral rocks, tree sap and lumber like molave. Its facade is a combination of Gothic, Baroque and Oriental designs. A website says that it is highly reminiscent of a Boroboudur Temple.
This side of the church will show you why Paoay Church is also classified as a “fortress church.”