A ten-minute ride away from Vigan is the historic
Bantay Belfry, which sits on a hill. This towering
structure is one of the sights that should be visited by
travelers not only because of its historical and
cultural significance but also because of its commanding
view of Vigan from the highest portion of it that can be
climbed. Some may even claim that they can see most of
Ilocos Sur from this bell tower.
It is called the Bantay Belfry because it is located in
the Bantay district of Vigan along the national highway.
It was said to be the people’s watchtower, part of the
city’s defense that helps in alerting it against
possible enemies. It was built in 1591.
To enjoy the panoramic view of the land set upon a
background of white and blue skies, visitors must climb
flights of stairs that can be accessed from the entrance
in the tower’s base. It is guarded by a small gate which
the caretakers lock when there are no visitors that
request for a tour of it. During such times, birds take
advantage of the absence of people to rest in the nooks
and crannies of the belfry.
The Bantay Belfry is popular among local tourists
because scenes of the well-known Filipino film Panday
were shot within and around the belfry.
To ensure that you can enter the belfry, it is best to
register at the Tourist Center along Calle Crisologo and
ask for a tour of the belfry from there.
At the end of the climb of the tower, visitors are
greeted by a huge, old bell. Beside it, one can stop and
endlessly gaze upon the city, surrounding towns and
mountains that reach Abra.
After a few meters’ walk from the belfry, visitors can
enter the St. Augustine Church which was built in 1590.
The Church has a deep brown, neo-gothic façade. Like the
Saint Paul Cathedral, one can see that it also
incorporates the distinctively Vigan earthquake baroque
in its architecture to save the structure from the
destructive force of earthquakes that visit the land.
It is amongst the oldest surviving churches in Ilocos
Sur and is under the care of the Augustine Order, first
of who was Father Montoya Osa. Visitors will also see
within St. Augustine Church the statue of Our Lady of
Charity, who is Nueva Segovia’s patroness. From the
church, she is said to have watched over the city over
The church suffered damages from World War II and so it
underwent reconstruction in 1950.
The surroundings of the church and belfry are quite
historic as well. Visitors will walk upon the same
grounds where Diego Silang and his troops were said to
have fought with the Spaniards in 1763.