January 29, 2014


When I was still a kid I would equate the town of Bantay as the town where the makers of jewelries can be found. My mom would always go to Bantay to  buy jewelries from the goldsmiths of  the town and send those  to her friend in the USA. Her friend would also sell those gold trinkets  to  her friends. On some occasions ,when she would  let me accompany her, I would go around the shop and admire all the beautiful gems on display.

A few months back I visited the town again or  rather , I toured a friend who was visiting the province for the first time. I was really amazed when I went  inside the Saint Augustine Parish Church. I've been here before but this time it was totally different. 
The church is famous for its  Bell tower. I had already climbed the tower a countless times. ..

Surprised, but  as we went down from the Bell Tower a tour guide was  already waiting for us at the gate of  church's side courtyard and he would later on became our photographer. Bro. Anthony, our tour guide  showed  us the grotto located  just beside the church before  leading us to the church's main altar. As we were walking towards the altar I noticed that the statue of the town's patron Saint,  Nuestra Senora Caridad also known as Apo Caridad had been turned around in a way that  Her back was what can be seen from the altar. "Apo", by the way , is an Ilocano word which means   God and/or holy, it is also use as a sign  of  respect. When we reached the back of the altar, Bro. Anthony told us that the statue of Apo Caridad can be turned around  so pilgrims can see Her up close and touch Her when you go at the back of the altar.
Apo Caridad up close
 (Read more about the Saint Augustine Church here:)

Near the church's main door entrance is a chapel. I am not  sure though  if this is also the Adoration Chapel but it is a good spot for meditation and prayer. 
Another door, just directly opposite the door where we first entered coming from the Bell tower, leads to   the Art Gallery . On booth sides of the alley are different religious artifacts and arts. The most interesting  among the artworks is the huge portrait of Jesus Christ crowned with torns. When you stand and look up  at the portrait, it's as if He is looking at you too.  
Not to be missed in the pilgrimage site is the Chapel by the ruins. It is an open air chapel set in the ruins right beside the church. There's a  bell at the entrance that tourists must ring  according to our guide. 
After our pilgrimage tour, I realized that all this years the church had hidden its real gem. Tourists would  come   here to climb the bell tower or maybe they stop here  because it's part of their Vigan city itinerary . little did we know that its real beauty is actually hidden in plain sight. Thanks to all those  who are behind this project, we can now see its splendor and glory.

Note: Pilgrimage site tour is free of charge but don't forget to give donation for   maintenance purposes.

Read my other posts on my Ilocos Sur series

1.  Historic Town Of Vigan
2. Vigan City Attractions and Festivals
3.  Calle Crisologo| Vigan Heritage Village
4. Buridek Children's Museum
5. Vigan Cathedral| St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral
6. Apo Caridad Pilgrimage Site| Bantay's Best Kept Secret
7. Bantay Church Bell Tower
8. Vigan Dancing Fountain and Laser Lights Show
9. Baluarte| A Zoo in the Historic Town of Vigan
10. Discovering Vigan's Hidden Garden
 11. Pagburnayan| Vigan Jar Factory


  1. Thank you for presenting our Shrine as it is....God bless...fr jack, parish priest

    1. You are welcome Father Jack! I hope I did justice to the very charming Shrine .

    2. can you give me the complete name of father jack please

    3. can you send me the complete name of father jack please.


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