Monday, November 24, 2014

Piddig council declares old church as heritage structure

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

Piddig, Ilocos Norte—The Sangguniang Bayan here has declared on Nov. 17 the 204-year-old St. Anne parish church as a heritage structure.

Sponsored by the committee of the whole, municipal council ordinance no. 2014-11-175, declaring the old Piddig church as a historical landmark and natural heritage was unanimously approved by the body.

Local officials said the St. Anne Parish Church is characteristically unique because among the old colonial churches in Ilocos Norte, it is the only one that is built atop a hill and fronting south instead of west. It is reached through a grand central stairway that opens to a wide patio or courtyard bordered by stone and brick fence.

“Despite the closure which every church officials in the Diocese of Laoag and the parishioners of Piddig hope would only be temporary, it is the collective desire of all concerned that the church would be kept that way for its historical value until its restoration and repair would become feasible,” the ordinance stated.

Records show the wooden portion of the church and convent were destroyed by fire in 1870.

These may have been provisional buildings in earlier time. The bricks sections of the church—the buttresses, including a pair of step buttresses, upper portions of the walls, the baptistery, and the nave walls behind the faƧade, as well as the bricks bell tower and convent—may have been added after the fire.

According to experts, the mortar used on the walls are made of lime, molasses and egg white, a revelation that gives enduring proof of the PiddigueƱos’ hardships and sacrifices in contributing labor and materials for the construction of the church.

For safety reason, engineering experts who inspected the old church building has declared the church as “unfit for human occupancy” which prompted Laoag Bishop Renato Mayugba to shut its doors to mass goers on Sept. 14.

Piddig, some 21 km from the capital Laoag City, is a former “visita” [a community with a chapel] of neighboring Dingras town. In 1798, Piddig was established as a town and St. Anne parish was created by the Augustinians in 1810.

During the Philippine-American War, a five-member team of Filipino guerrillas used the church as a base to repel American attacks.

The church survived a 6.9 magnitude earthquake in March of 1931 that left big cracks in the walls and toppled the top level of its bell tower.

During the Japanese occupation, the convent and the sacristy were burned, leading to the destruction of its parish records. The church’s facade and its interior were restored in 1965.

The convent was later repaired and converted into a parochial school, the St. Anne Academy, church records showed.

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