Our Ilocos trip included visits to a handful of historical churches and bell towers, such as The Paoay Church, the Bantay Bell Tower, Bacarra church, the Sinking Bell Tower, and the St. Paul Cathedral.
There really must be something about growing up because I never used to see how beautiful these old structures were until only recently when I’ve learned their stories. And they’re pretty interesting stories, too!
For example, they said that looking out a window of the Bantay Bell Tower, they used to see the favorite ”tagpuan” (date) place of Philippine revolutionists, Diego and Gabriela Silang.
(READ: The Food of Ilocos)
Or that the three-storey bell tower of Paoay church served as a lookout post for katipuneros during the Philippine Revolution in 1896 and by Filipino Guerillas during the second World War.
According to Wikipedia, the bells are rung for weddings of members from prominent clans.
They said that egg yolks were used to stick the bricks together – that’s according to the wife of our tour guide. I have yet to confirm this information, so for now, I file it under ”rumors.”
It’s interesting to note that some of these structures, most particularly those made of big slabs of stones, were built by muslim builders, and the designs are a fusion of many different influences, including Chinese and Spanish cultures.
And many of these buildings had been destroyed by earthquakes over the years, and had been rebuilt, some more than once.
St. Paul Cathedral
The Sinking Bell Tower
Bantay Bell Tower
(READ: Getting to know Ilocos in 3 Days)
The more curious of stories are the bell towers. The Sinking Bell Tower, for instance, earned it’s name because it is believed to be sinking every year. And according to history, a man on a horse used to be able to go right through the entrance without any problem, but the opening has considerably shrunk as the tower continues to sink.
On a side note, the Sinking Bell Tower was one of the sites I was most eager to see in the tour, but I was disappointed that I could barely go near it because of all the tiangge stores set up at it’s foot. Such a waste of a beautiful site! I’m glad my husband was able to find a way to get a good shot.
The Bell tower of the Bacarra church is also known as the Acrobatic Bell Tower of Bacarra and the Beheaded belfry of Bacarra, assumingly because the earthquakes in the past years have toppled the tower at one time and another.
I love art but I do not know anything about architecture, but there were mentions of baroque and gothic structures. We don’t really discuss much of this with our children but we will, if it piques their interests.
But we do tell them history and the role these walls once played over the years, hopefully to give them a glimpse of how things were for our people in those times.
With all the signs of wreck and worn out hinges, the walls of these buildings can pull on the right heartstrings when you know what happened in those years they had stood.