Invaders and Zombies beware. Learn the stories of the church.
The word bantay in the vernacular means guardian, built in 1590, this lovely red brick church and it’s bell tower, served as watch point against invading forces coming from the sea during WWI and WWII. When the bell sounded off it signaled the residents of nearby towns to seek shelter and escape to the nearby mountains. Sadly, the church was heavily damaged when the Japanese occupation gained the upper-hand, but it was eventually rebuilt and reconstructed in the 1950. I was the first guest to arrive when I visited and was surprised at how genuinely warm and sincere the care takers were. Guides are often plucked from the ranks of former altar boys of the Church which was named officially after St. Augustine. It also houses our Lady of Charity who had accounts of miracles and is reported to have vanished and reappeared with dirty soles & a trail of soil leading up to her altar.
On it’s own, the church has stories to tell, but the crown in this location for me is the Belfry. It rests on top of a hill a few meters from the church itself. I clambered slowly to the top making sure to catch my breath before taking in the view. And when I did, it truly was a magnificent thing to see. The Abra mountains, the rustic town of Vigan &, the glimmering China Sea in a 360 degree Symphony. While I was there with an LCA+, I couldn’t help but want each camera I brought to have a solid taste of the view that laid before me. It had just rained heavily the night before and so the sky was blue and the clouds were wispy.
Locals told me of how the site used to be a favored location used by 70’s campy films. I remember seeing the classic “Panday” movie on TV as a child and recognized the view of the grounds when seen from the bells. One could even picture that the bell tower would be pretty useful during a zombie apocalypse as you could easily snipe them off one by one, and besides they probably won’t be able to climb since everybody knows that they have weak ankles. Anyway, I absolutely loved this site zombies notwithstanding.