Philippines was the last country in South East Asia that I visited. I had been to Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia where Buddhism and Islam are the dominant religions and where Buddhist pagodas, stupas and Islamic mosque architecture dominated the entire skyline and landscapes. Here, in the UNESCO city of Vigan in Philippines, I was able to deeply appreciate the beauty of many of the Roman Catholic churches of great Spanish colonial architecture.
It was a relaxing 10 mins stroll from my accommodation at Henady Inn Annex and I was impressed with this marvelous Bantay Church and the Bell Tower. It was like a hidden gem uncovered in a lackluster village area near the highway of Vigan. I came here twice, once in the early morning before 6 am and once in the evening with my wife.
There was a mass gathering during the evening and as I walked into the entrance, the hymns and songs pervaded the air. Outside the church, two young men were selling bean curd (taho) in their containers. I bought a cup for 20 pesos and found it appetizing. The pseudo Romanesque and Neo Gothic design of the front façade of the church is impressive though the interior looks plain.
There is a Mary statue erected outside the church and the three building structures: the Church, the Bell Tower and the Mary statue with three distinctive color bands stand like the Holy Trinity guarding this beautiful place of the Augustinians. As I strolled my way up the slope to the brown brick Bell Tower, appreciated her structural beauty, strolled my way around her compound studded with bright colored, fragrant flowers and greenery and explored the Chapel by the Ruins in the backyard of the church, I was mesmerized by the serenity and peacefulness of this holy place.
There was a quotation by St Augustine which was printed on a banner hanged at the church compound that reads `Life is like a book. If you do not travel you read only one page.' I found meaning and relevancy in this short life philosophic phrase of St Augustine.
I like this church, like the honest and friendly people here, like the delicious local Malunggay Pandesal buns sold in a bakery not far from this church, love the `taho' sold in the church compound, love the serenity and peacefulness of this lovely place.
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