Chiming the Bells of Bantay Bell Tower

Friday, April 11, 2014


I'm determined to make my 2014 summer the best one yet. So when my friend Camille invited me to join her and some of my Mitsubishi Motors colleagues for an Ilocandia Adventure, my adrenaline level probably went off the roof. Although I wasn't able to say yes on the spot (because I was figuring out how to go about paying the tour fee), my mind was already made up: I'm going to Ilocos whatever happens. And I did. Hooray!

It was late March when I've managed to pay the three-thousand-five-hundred-peso tour fee for a three-day/two-night package. Our tour was scheduled for April 3-6. In fact, I was so excited that three days before our trip, my bags were already packed and I was soooo ready to go:

Adventure packs!
And on the day of our departure (evening of April 3) I was the first one to arrive at our meeting place. How's that for atat? :)


At any rate, our Ilocandia journey began when we rendezvoused along the compound of Mitsubishi Motors (MMPC). Joining me on this adventure were Camille, Ma'am Jo and her brother Kuya Jerry, Sir George and his wife Tita Maylin, Ching and her boyfriend Roy, Ate MJ, and Sir Donnie. The boys were outnumbered by four to six. There were ten of us. Well, thirteen, if you count our tour coordinator Kuya Al, the driver and the trainee tour guide (I feel awful that I didn't get their names. Aww.)

Our call time was 7PM but we left, I think, a little past nine. Camille and I were seatmates and we spent most of the twelve-hour ride sharing stories. Both of us couldn't get a shut-eye. Camille said she didn't really sleep during car rides; I thought sleep was for the weak.

Now, fast forward...

It was still dark when we entered the borders of Ilocos Sur. Our first stop was the Bell Tower of Sanctuario de Nuestra Señora de Caridad, St. Agustine Parish in Bantay. 

Built in the 16th century, this kampanaryo is more commonly known as the Bantay Bell Tower.

And now I quote Wikipedia, "The belfry sits on a hilltop overlooking a green pasture and the province of Abra. It was used as a watchtower for invading enemy forces during World Wars I and II because of its strategic location. The Bantay Church and bell tower are monumental witnesses to various atrocities and uprisings."

Fascinating, yes?


Group picture!
The miraculous Apo Caridad inside the St. Augustine Parish
The entrance arc
The facade of St. Augustine Parish
After the photo op, we trotted toward the inside of the belfry, up its circular staircase to where the bells are. I must say, for a structure built in 1591, the Bantay Bell Tower is pretty sturdy. It, together with the church, is one of the oldest buildings in the province. Hats off to my Ilocano brethren for having successfully preserved the structure.



The view from the top was amazing. One can understand why the belfry also served as a watch tower. From here, you can see what I assume is the whole of Vigan and, apparently, the province of Abra.
I wonder if that silhouette is the Carballo mountains. Anyone?
 Of course, we didn't miss out on the opportunity to pose with the historical bells:
Sir George chilling
Camille puts on her "hat"
Ching, all smiles for the camera
Credits to Camille for taking this picture
It's really awesome knowing that I was probably standing on the very spot where sentinels stood watch back in the day. It blows my mind that I was able to touch with my own hands the very same structure that was touched by the soldiers of the World Wars. But what is most delightful is that something so historically and culturally significant had been and is continually being taken care of. 

The Bantay Bell Tower had withstood the test of time. I hope I can create something similar - both literally and metaphorically.


So cheers to the next adventure!




PS: Acknowledgement to Sir George for the SLR shots. :)

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