Bantay Watch Tower

The Bantay Watchtower is one of the most popular daytime destinations in Ilocos Sur, Philippines due to its history and religious significance as well as its alluring facade.

Contents

Disclaimer: The content of this article is based on personal experience as well as references to the date of publication. Changes may occur on contact details, transportation, fees, etc. With this, please do comment at the end of the article any updates as well as corrections on the content, anything amiss, or any information that you think is crucial to the readers. Thank you!


Location

Address: Bantay, Ilocos Sur, Philippines

Coordinates: 17°34’28.9″N 120°23’13.2″E

Map:

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Business Hours
  • 0600AM-0500PM

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Fees
  • Entrance Fee: Free admission

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The Enduring Bantay Watchtower

The Bantay Watchtower is one of the most popular daytime destinations in Ilocos Sur, Philippines due to its history and religious significance as well as its alluring facade.

The watchtower is known in many names that tourist might get confused. I was one of them, haha. When I was planning to go there, I put in my itinerary the “Bantay Watchtower” and “Bantay Belfry”. To my utter shame, it is the same as what the tricycle driver explained to me, lol. The structure is called Bantay Church Watchtower, Bantay Bell Tower, Bantay Belfry, Belfry of St. Augustine Church, among others.

Bantay Watchtower is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Ilocos Sur, Philippines.

Historically, the Bantay Watchtower is of great importance to the town. Built in 1591, it was said to be the people’s watchtower, part of the community’s defense in alerting them against possible enemies [1]. Also, it became the belfry of the St. Augustine Church which was built on 1590 [2]. The grounds where the belfry stands is also said to be the same where Diego Silang and his troops fought the Spaniards in 1763 [1].


The Bantay Watchtower is also a significant religious structure. It is originally the belfry of the St. Augustine Church found within the same grounds.

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 many generations [1]. 

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 many generations [1]. 

When I went there, I was expecting a place with not much tourists, lol, like what you see in most Instagram or other social media posts. So I made a comparison of a manipulated shot showing only the belfry and a shot with tourists. However, even with the number of tourists, it is still one of the places that I will suggest to visit. I was there a couple of hours before sunset and the effect of the golden sunlight later is amazing on the even more amazing structure.

Potentially, more non-local tourists will gaze upon its beauty as the provincial government boosts cruise tourism through international cruise ships to dock at Salomague Ilocos Cruise Port. 

The passengers, who came from European, Asian, American and Middle Eastern countries, arrived at Salomague Port in Brgy. Salomague, Cabugao then visited the tourist destinations here such as the Bantay Church Bell Tower, St. Paul Cathedral Church, Pagburnayan (where earthenware pots are hand-crafted), Hidden Garden, Calle Crisologo, and various National Museums in the Heritage City of Vigan [3]. The local government hoes to continue this in the future.

In summary, Bantay Watchtower, known of many names, is one of the most famous tourist sites in Ilocos Norte because of its historical importance, religious affiliation, and its wondrous facade. Best time to go there is early in the morning or during sunset.

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How to Get There

By land. Take any bus heading to Vigan City or Laoag City.

  • Manila buses bound to Vigan City are Partas, Dominion Bus, Aniceto Bus, Viron Transit, Florida Bus Line, Fariñas Trans, Maria De Leon Bus Lines, RCJ Bus Lines and F. Franco Transit. Anywhere from Vigan City, hail a tricycle or kalesa [two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage] and tell the driver to drop you at Bantay Watchtower.
  • From Baguio City, you can take a Partas bus near SM City Baguio or the ordinary mini-buses in Bayanihan. Anywhere from Vigan City, hail a tricycle or kalesa [two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage] and tell the driver to drop you at Bantay Watchtower.
  • GMW Liner and Florida Liner have buses plying a vice versa Abra and Tuguegarao with a stop in Vigan City route. Anywhere from Vigan City, hail a tricycle or kalesa [two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage] and tell the driver to drop you at Bantay Watchtower.

By air. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines flies from Manila to Laoag International Airport. Take any bus bound to Vigan City. Anywhere from Vigan City, hail a tricycle or kalesa [two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage] and tell the driver to drop you at Bantay Watchtower.

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Helpful Local Phrases
  • Good morning: Naimbag a bigat; Good afternoon: Naimbag a malem; Good day: Naimbag nga aldaw; Good evening: Naimbag a rabii
  • How are you?: Kumusta
  • Thank you: Agyamanak
  • What is your name?: Ania ti nagan mo?
  • I don’t understand: Diak maawatan
  • How do I get to…?: Kasantnu ak a makapan sadiay…?
  • One: maysa, two: duwa, three: tallo, four: uppat, five: lima, six: ennem, seven: pito, eight: walo, nine: siyam, ten: sangapulo
  • How much is this?: Sagmamano daytoy?
  • Help!: Arayat!
  • Sorry: Pakawanennak

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Other Notable Nearby Places

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References

[1] Vigan.ph. n.d. Bantay Belfry – The People’s Watchtower | Vigan.Ph. [online] Available at: <https://www.vigan.ph/attractions/bantay-belfry.html&gt; [Accessed 19 April 2020].

[2] Rivero, I., 2018. Feature: Ilocos Sur Governor Urges Residents To Use Bicentennial Stamps. [online] Pia.gov.ph. Available at: <https://pia.gov.ph/features/articles/1005634&gt; [Accessed 19 April 2020].

[3] Quimoyog, J., 2020. Ilocos Sur Gov’t To Boost Cruise Tourism This 2020. [online] Pia.gov.ph. Available at: <https://pia.gov.ph/news/articles/1032517&gt; [Accessed 19 April 2020].

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