The entire region has everything to offer. While I knew some historical landmarks and popular sites in Ilocos, I was overwhelmed with all the places I was able to visit. Part of our itinerary was a quick tour to some old churches. We were able to see three old churches namely, The Saint Augustine Church (more commonly known as Paoay Church), Shrine of Our Lady of Charity (Bantay Church) which also houses the Bantay Watch Tower, and Church of Saint Andrew the Apostle (Bacarra Church).
The Paoay Church is a non-negotiable destination in every Ilocos trip. It's existence dates back the 17th century, which makes it as a National Treasure and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its architecture is undeniably magnificent. It has survived all forms of natural calamities, still standing strong for hundreds of years. I also can't help but admire its colorful stations of the cross and the intricate design of the floor tiles. When visiting the Paoay Church, don't forget to try the ice cream too. ;)
The Bantay Church is more popular because of its Bell Tower, which also served as a watch tower during Word War I. Like many tourists, it's the Bantay Watch Tower that amazed me. It's quite unusual for the bell tower to be situated far from the main church. History has an explanation for this. One reason I believe is to provide better protection and security for the church. The tower also sits in a picture perfect spot. It is surrounded by a lush land area and accessed by a grand concrete staircase. Inside the tower are old red bricks and wood that have existed since the 15th century.
Bacarra Church was one of the last items in our itinerary. We arrived quite early so we were not able to see the Church's museum. The bell tower was likewise not accessible for guests. I'm not sure if it is still functional though. Regardless, the tower has its own unique charm. The classic red bricks, surrounding garden, and its survival amidst all the ruins captivated me.
I knew Ilocos has more old churches to offer. I've seen several churches during our road trip. Unfortunately, not all places are considered in our itinerary. I've seen small and old churches that piqued my interest. I'm actually after the underrated and the unpopular sites. If I will have the chance to revisit Ilocos, I would surely check out the unpopular and interesting churches.