Saturday, February 6, 2016

National Cultural Treasure Series - SAN ANDRES APOSTOL PARISH CHURCH, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte - PH-01-0006-NCT

Number 6 on the list - the San Andres Apostol Parish Church (Iglesia Parroquial de San Andrés Apóstol) or most commonly known as the Bacarra Church is famous for its centuries-old, domeless or "beheaded" belfry known as Torre ti Bacarra. This is the town's most prized heritage.The original bell tower, which is detached from the main church building and made of coral bricks dates back to the 16th century and stands 50 meters.

Indigenous materials were used for the construction. Coral bricks made of sticky clay and molasses mixed with leaves and tree trunks of a tree soaked in water or “sablot” were used instead of cement, granite or adobe stones. The mixture resulted in a sticky fluid which was then combined with lime from ashes of burnt shells. The bricks were pieced together with stucco, the mixture beaten to paste. All the labor was manual.

The tower is known as the "Acrobatic Bell Tower of Bacarra". The locals also called it the “Bowing Belltower of Bacarra” while the tourists referred to it as the “Leaning Tower of the North.

The church museum, known as Museo de Bacarra, is housed in the former church convent. The two-story restored convent, which dates to the Spanish colonial era, features religious artifacts from archival photos and documents and church relics and cultural artifacts mostly contributed by the people of Bacarra.A mysterious underground staircase leading to three tunnels – believed to be connected to the Bacarra river, the church tower, and the altar – was uncovered at the back of the old convent.

The church's facade was originally of Baroque architecture. In 1973, the tower became a National Cultural Treasure by virtue of Presidential Decree 260.

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