I arrived at Bantay, Ilocos Sur 6:30 AM of December 27 after an almost 5-hour trip from Pangasinan. The ticket I got was Vigan but after passing through the Bantay Bell Tower and the conductor shouted “Bantay!,” I eagerly got off the bus and started my itinerary. Popularly known as Bantay Bell Tower, the Bell Tower of Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Caridad which was constructed in 1591-1592 as a belfry of the church and at the same time the watch tower of the town is situated on top of a hill. You need to register and give some donations on the designated area before entering the environs of the bell tower.
It houses four bells, a bigger one and another three of same sizes. Going to the topmost area of the tower, you can see the Bantay Municipal Cemetery and a magnificent 360o view of the town including the nearby city of Vigan.
After having a photo op with the belfry, I dropped by at St. Augustine Parish Church which was built in 1590 by Fr. Montoya Osa. It was named after St. Augustine the patron saint by the Augustinian Friars. The church was damaged during World War II but was reconstructed in 1950.
St. Augustine Parish Church
According to their ancestors, the image of Our Lady of Charity was found by some fishermen placed in a wooden box floating in Bantaoay River. People from other towns and provinces came to take the image but could not move and only people from Bantay were able to carry the miraculous image. “Our Lady of Charity” was the name given to the image due to the many miracles interceding her numerous devotees. The church is not grand as the UNESCO Site of Paoay Church but it has its own stories worth discovering.
Everyone entering the church is asked to offer a short prayer and lit a candle. You can also write down your petitions on a book that will be read during pilgrimages. After the short stop at Bantay, I continued my trip to Vigan City where I was astonished by a world heritage site, the old-street of Calle Crisologo.
Note: Sorry for the shots. I didn’t know that my camera was set to manual focus mode lowering the quality of the pictures.