St. William Parish Church
Ilocos Quick Tour, Part 2: St. William’s Cathedral ; The Sinking Bell Tower in Laoag
From Museo Ilocos Norte, I hailed a trike to go to St. William’s Cathedral. History has it that the Augustinian friars built it in 1612 but it was damaged by a storm in 1640, by an earthquake in 1706 and by fire in 1843. The church stood the test of time, except for its bell tower.
Sinking Bell Tower
About 100 meters away from St. William’s Cathedral stands is its bell tower now known as “The Sinking Bell Tower”. Being a solo traveler in this journey, it was a challenge taking pictures of the bell tower with me in it because it’s a very busy street, the main thoroughfare. The never-ending day traffic of trikes, jeepneys, and cars makes taking pictures of the tower with me in it, hard. I might just get run over if I insist to set-up the tripod, switch on the timer and run over in the middle of the street just so I can be in the photo.
When the Augustinians built the church, they missed to consider that their choice of the bell tower’s location is a sandy place, thus, the sinking episodes started ever since then. I crossed the street to read the plaque on the tower wall. It stated that when it was built and many years thereafter, a man sitting erect on a horseback can easily enter the main door but it’s not the case anymore. I, for one, standing 5 feet tall had to bend over to enter in. It’s speculated by the historians that the tower sinks one inch each year.
The sinking bell tower boasts that it was one of the biggest and the tallest bell tower, but according to google, it now stands 45 meters tall. I wonder how it looked originally. It must have been really gigantic.
And aside from the fact that this tower is sinking, it is also leaning towards the North which makes it also a leaning tower. Now, I am really having a European experience, I am imagining seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy only I am in the Philippine soil. The unpleasant sight of dangling and tangled cable wires make it unique, too.
And by the way, this tower is not just for tourism or picture taking purposes, to this day, the belfry still rings to call the Catholic public to hear mass in St. William’s Cathedral.