LAOAG CITY — Two of Ilocos Norte’s most important heritage icons will be restored, courtesy of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).
These are the famous Saint Augustine Church in Paoay and the domeless tower of Bacarra town.
Rene Escalante, Chairman of the NHCP, said a total of PHP45 million has been earmarked for the twin projects to be started by next year.
The first phase of the Paoay Church restoration covers its buttresses, walls, tower, and interior, while Bacarra tower’s dome will be restored.
The NHCP said the restoration projects may be completed after three years.
“This is an NHCP initiated project. This is not tied up with delisting because whether listed or not, this is part of our national patrimony,” Escalante explained.
In a Bid Bulletin signed by Carminda Arevalo, chairperson of the Bids and Awards Committee of the NHCP, the submission and opening of bids is set on December 20 at 9 a.m.
For both Paoay and Bacarra residents, the restoration project is a welcome development for them, as it ensures greater appreciation and preservation of some important historical landmarks in the province.
Bacarra Mayor Nicomedes Dela Cruz said the town’s residents are thankful to the NHCP for keeping an eye on the domeless bell tower of Bacarra, which is often under-appreciated.
The old church of Saint Andrew the Apostle, the bell tower, and the convent are among the enduring landmarks of the Augustinian Friars that form part of the rich history of the Ilocanos.
Built in 1593, the church and belfry were destroyed by a 7.8 intensity earthquake on Aug. 17, 1983. It caused the dome to fall down, thus, gaining the romanticized title “Dignified Domeless Belltower in Asia.”
By virtue of Presidential Decree No. 260, then President Ferdinand E. Marcos declared the Bacarra Church a National Cultural Treasure on Aug.1, 1973.
The Paoay Church, on the other hand, is a major tourist attraction in Ilocos Norte.
Its magnificent view from all angles occupies most visitors’ post on social media, as well as postcards, books, and magazines.
The Paoay Church was built in 1694 and was completed in 1894. It is made of coral blocks and bricks; and incorporates Gothic, Baroque, and Oriental designs. PNA-northboundasia.com