Meeting St. Augustine

Saturday, September 18, 2010

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St. Augustine Church
Bantay, Ilocos Sur
31 July 2009

It has been my personal tradition to travel to Vigan City from La Union a day before I go home, and this time wasn't different.

My first memory of this church was in the summer of 2006 when my siblings and I went for a little summer escapade. Although I wasn't able to enter the church that time because there was a wedding, the beauty of the place will forever be in my memory.

Facade. Typically mistaken as part of Vigan City, this church was actually part of Bantay town. The church was built during the Spanish period (1530s), and the architectural design is influenced by the Europeans although it was built under the Spanish regime by the local people. This church was built through forced labor and slavery during the Spanish period.

Getting In. Inside the church, one could see simplicity, yet the way they constructed the posts and the ceiling was something I really loved. I told my prayers, and as I made the sign of the cross, an old man approached me and asked me if I wanted to see the image of St. Augustine (the church's patron saint). Prior to my trip, someone commented on a picture I took from this church from before and asked me if this was the church that houses the image that can be rotated to meet the visitors. The old man seemed nice, so I said yes, after all... this was the first time I was approached like that.

Image. True enough, the main image on the altar can be rotated to greet the tourists. Talk about being blessed! Now of course, the image can only be rotated when there was mass celebration. Tourists are also allowed to take pictures.

Scenic Sunday

Our Lady of Charity. This church is also home of Our Lady of Charity, whose feast is celebrated every second Sunday of January.

The Bell Tower. Going outside, the old man was still with me. Thinking maybe it was my first time there, he told me I could also climb up the bell tower, and since it was the thing I wanted to do here, I let him lead me to the Tourism Desk where I wrote my name.

The bell tower was situated on a hill, a few meters away from the church. It also served as a watch tower during the Spanish era.

Inside the Bell Tower. After a group of people have left, it was my turn to go inside the tower. The old man was still with me, and I was actually thankful that he was, because it was a bit lonesome traveling alone - with no one to talk to. I was thankful, too, that the man was kind enough to take my pictures... it was him who would always ask me to pose here and there so I could have some pictures to take home.

One of the saddest things about this bell tower was the fact that people have left graffiti in the centuries old bells. Not only that, they also have carved symbols and names into the wooden floor that were really sore to the eyes.

Cemetery. The top of the belfry can give one a good panoramic view of the place, and in one of the windows can see this cemetery. The old man told me about the mountains that looked like a lying woman, but my camera can't zoom in on the formation - quite a sunny day and the sunrays were a bit harsh.

When we came down the tower, the old man left me and stayed by the Tourism Desk. I guess he was just taking a short rest before guiding other tourists around the church.

*** Jenn ***

ps - My cousin Mhai visited the church a few weeks ago and I saw that the bells have already cleaned up. Hmmm.. another reason for me to travel back there.

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