Bantay Church Bell Tower | Ilocos Sur

One of the places we visited as part of our Vigan side-trip was the Saint Augustine Parish Church. Commonly known as Bantay Church, it was first constructed on its current site in 1590. The present facade though, was the result of the reconstruction job done in 1950, after it was heavily damaged during World War II. Aside from its Neo-Gothic Architecture that incorporated pseudo-Romanesque elements, the church is also famous for its Belfry situated a short distance from the church.

Bantay Church Bell Tower view of the town

The Saint Augustine Parish Church

Located in Bantay, Ilocos Sur, the Saint Augustine Parish Church is also referred to as the Shrine of Nuestra Señora de la Caridad, and houses the image of the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Charity—said to be a miraculous image crowned by the Pope Pius XII as patroness of Ilocandia on January 12, 1956. Originally, the church was built and designed with Baroque architecture and in later years in the late 19th century, was reinforced with thick buttressed walls after it endured numerous destructive earthquakes. This method of strengthening old churches back then earned the Earthquake Baroque architecture label.

with Monette Santillan in front of The Saint Augustine Parish Church

The interior of the church is bare other than the arching steel columns, and a modest altar. The walls are painted white and the big windows allows natural light that keeps the inside appear lighter. Beside the church is a small museum housing old photographs of the church and the town of Bantay. There is also a small courtyard leading to a garden and an outdoor chapel—aptly called Chapel by the Ruins.

The Bantay Belfry of the Bantay Watchtower

Living up to its name Bantay, which translates to ‘guard’ in English, Bantay Belfry sits atop a hill overlooking the quaint town of Bantay. Back in the day, it was constructed on its strategic spot to also serve as a watchtower to defend the town from attacking pirates. During World War II, it was also manned by Filipino Guerilla Fighters and later on by retreating Japanese forces during the peak of the liberation of the Philippines.

Bantay Church Bell Tower in Ilocos Sur

Today, if you look out from one of the Belfry’s windows, you can see the pleasant view of the encircling trees and the piles of white crosses planted on multiple levels of graves laid over at the town's public cemetery.

Film quiz trivia hotshot: The Bantay Watchtower was among the shooting locations of the classic Filipino movie "Ang Panday".

Together with my girlfriend Monette and her two sisters Tuesday and Len, we spent almost an hour just resting and enjoying the view from the Belfry's tower. If it weren't for the arrival of a couple tourists we would have stayed longer as we left a few minutes later to give the two of them some privacy. Plus, we're already famished and craving for Vigan bagnet and pinakbet already.

Full of history and charming architecture, the Bantay Church and Bell Tower is must-see attraction whenever you find yourself in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

How to go to Bantay Church Bell Tower

Take either a slow but calming Kalesa ride or a faster tricycle ride to Bantay Church Bell Tower if you don't fancy taking a 20-minute walk from Vigan City.