Ilocos officials want decommissioned church declared as national heritage

By Freddie G. Lazaro

PIDDIG, Ilocos Norte – Officials of this historic town are seeking the declaration of its decommissioned church as national cultural heritage to give way for its immediate restoration.
Piddig town mayor Eduardo Guillen said they are working on having the 204-year-old Saint Anne parish church proclaimed as a heritage structure by the National Commission of Culture and Arts (NCCA).

“Once our request for declaration of the church as national heritage is granted, our government will look for necessary funds for its restoration,” he said.

“We are seeking the restoration of our historical church because this is one of the famous landmarks of our rich heritage and cultures in Piddig,” he added.

Congressman Rodolfo Fariñas (1st district, Ilocos Norte) has expressed his full support in looking for appropriate funds for the church’s immediate restoration.

Last September 14, Bishop Renato Mayugba of the Diocese of Laoag celebrated the last mass at the Saint Anne parish church before it was decommissioned due to the building’s weakening structure.

Piddig, 21 kilometers east of Laoag City, is a former “visita” (a community with a chapel) of neighboring Dingras town.

In 1798, Piddig was established as a town while Saint Anne parish was founded by the Augustinian friars in 1810 with Father Isidro Champaner as its first parish priest.

During the Philippine-American War, the church’s building was used as command post by a 5-man Filipino guerilla group to deter the attack of the American soldiers.

On March 19, 1932, a tremor destroyed the top section of the church’s bell tower but this was repaired.

In the World War II, the convent and the sacristy were gutted by fire destroying the church’s records. Its facade and its interior were restored in 1965.

It was learned that the convent was later repaired and converted into a parochial school, the Saint Anne Academy.

The capitals of the columns of the first level have cylindrical, inverted crenellation-like carvings that indicate a Muslim influence, while the second level has a round apex.

The original wooden pulpit and five neo classical retablos made from brick and lime are found inside the church. The central retablo contains the image of St. Anne holding Mary on her lap. (MCA/Freddie G. Lazaro, PIA- 1 Ilocos Norte)