Stopovers from Vigan to Laoag

Bantay Belfry

Impressive gothic belfry in Bantay, Ilocos Sur

Will try to finish up the entries on our northern Luzon trip in the coming days. I will also have individual posts on some interesting objects along the way. The first couple of weeks has been very busy at work. Double deadlines as they say. Well to continue on…

The travel from Vigan to Laoag is only a couple of hours trip, but if you have time to spare there are lots of interesting stopovers on nearby provinces that would give your time and money enough its worth.

Bantay Belfry and church

Bantay belfry and crimson church, Ilocos Sur

First off from Vigan is the Bantay Belltower and church. Now this is a must and you wouldn’t miss it since it’s on the highway and near the bus stations at the entrance of Vigan. From first seeing the belfry at the distance from the church gate I was already in awe at it’s magnificent structure. For me it’s one of the most magnificent structures I have ever seen. It’s baroque-gothtic style and color truly impressed me. Too bad the gates was closed we couldn’t get up, they said that this belfry used to be a lookout tower during the war. Not to belittle it’s church which stands a few meters away, the church boast a crimson facade and amazing window arcs emphasized by its white shade.

Masingal Belfry and Museum

Masingal Belfry and Museum

The next stop is the belfry and old church-turned-museum of Masingal, next town after Vigan. The belfry isn’t as impressive as the one in Bantay but the church now houses the extension of the National Museum in Burgos, Vigan, and more impressive displays of Iloco antiquities, earthen wares and old coins and money. The curator narrated the grim history of the church though. During the war this was made into a headquarters by the Japanese, then a Japanese captain went missing and was found dead. The people in the town were all gathered in the church and was kept there until someone or one of them admits to the Captain’s murder. Unfortunately though at that time there was the “Pest” sickness spreading, a lot of poeple inside where infected, eventually a mass burial was made behind the church to prevent the disease from spreading. I may be corrected in this info, but this is what I remembered of what the curator said.

Juan Luna's house

National Artist, Juan Luna’s House turned museum

A couple of town ahead is Juan Luna’s rebuilt house in Badoc. It’s a couple of blocks from the highway and you’ll be able to see National Artist Juan Luna’s impressive house turned Museum. It’s a bit of disappointment as there were no original artworks there, only reproductions. But his original tools, palettes, brushes and easels were there.

Paoay Church

St. Agustine also known as the Paoay Church, a UNESCO heritage site

Now we missed a spot in Currimao were we were supposed to see the giant corals, but we were dropped off at the D’Coral beach. We learned that the giant Corals are near the port. Since there were no more time we headed of straight to Paoay. Upon reaching the Junction to Batac we veered left on a tryke and headed to the UNESCO heritage site of Paoay Church.

I was finally able to enter the interior of the church but it wasn’t that impressive for me though as its cielings were just improvised steel roof. But why is it included in UNESCO’s Heritage list? Well it’s a perfect example of Spanish time architecture in evolution combining Baroque, gothic and oriental styles which you’ll notice on the different levels of the church from the ground up. Also the massive S-shaped buttresses on the side of the church to make it earthquake proof adds to it’s uniqueness which earned its place as a heritage site.

Sinking Tower

Laoag’s sinking bell tower

Well, finally you’ll know you’re in Laoag when you see this Sinking Belltower. The tower sinks a few centimeters every year. I was wonering why it sinks. Is it the foundation? Anyone knows? Then, a man on a horse could enter the church entrance, now you have to stoop down to enter. The St. Williams church with it’s Renaissance design facade is a few meters walk from the sinking belltower. If you’ll notice in Ilocos most of the bell tower are located a few meters away from the church itself. This is to make sure the former wouldn’t topple on the later during an earthquake.

St Williams Church

St. Williams Church with a renassance facade