Friday, April 22, 2011

San Augustine Church and Bell Tower, Bantay, Ilocos Sur

Our Lady of Charity and the Bantay Bell Tower

The San Augustine Church

beautiful steel ceiling

Entrance to the Bell Tower atop a small hill 

View from the top

 The local cemetery

 The church bells chime to invite people to come and worship

A team of enthusiastic, hard-working individuals man a small stall left of the San Augustine Church in Bantay, Ilocos Sur.   They're the almost zealous "bantay (the Tagalog definition)" of  the picturesque belfry -- they request for donations for  its upkeep, as well as accompany guests as they climb the tower. It's their duty, our guide tells us, to save the town's treasure from vandals who come and either carve their names on the bells and the floor or who chip away at things to bring home as a souvenir.

The bell tower offers a wondrous view of the nearby mountains (Bantay is the Ilocano word for mountains), the church below, the cemetery and the houses of the community. It also served as a lookout to guard against the enemies during the war. The site is more popular these days for locally made movies and Fernando Poe Jr. was said to be one of its sukis.

Equally as picturesque is the inside of the  San Agustine Church with its ornate steel ceeling, gold adonrments and stained glass.

Built in the early 1500s Bantay Church is now also the pilgrimage site of Our Lady of Charity.

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