During my visit, I was more stunned with its belfry which is approximately 100 meters away from the church, a belfry-church main structure distance, almost the same with the Saint William Cathedral of Laoag City. Dating back on its history, this church’s belfry known as the Bantay Tower during the Spanish colonial era, has served as a watchtower for invading pirates who usually attack the town. It was established in 1590 for that purpose making it one of the oldest in the Ilocos Region.
Our group found it very inviting to climb the tower and accompanied by our guide, we did it. We encountered no problem till we reached its second level. However, going up to the third level may require guts since even if the wooden stairs are new, there was the rickety sound that we heard and the tall, open windows may trigger vertigo among the faint-hearted. In our group of 15, only three of us, boys dared to make it to highest level. And alas!!!! The bell tower really provided us the best overlooking scenery of the houses and town cemetery below, the underlying hills within the horizon and the mountains on the side of Abra.
In addition, our guide, told us that the church bell tower did not undergo any renovation except for the repair of the stairs inside the tower. Its original building construction materials are still intact consisting of bricks, rocks, and a mixture of seashells and sugar cane where the guide called it as “apog”. Furthermore, the guide also said that the Ilocano word “bantay” means “mountain” and “guard” as the tower was built on the highest point of the town.
It is highly recommended to visit this spot late in the afternoon as photographers can get the best postcard perfect picture since the blue sky can serve as the backdrop of the tower.
How far is Bantay from Vigan City? The answer would vary from which route you will choose coming from Vigan. If you had it Vigan City via Quirino Boulevard, it is just 2.4 kilometers for 3 minutes only. If you opt to take Vigan City via Quezon Avenue, then it would be 2.1 kilometers for 4 minutes drive and via Rizal Avenue, the same distance of 2.1 kilometers for 4 minutes drive also.