Declare old church as cultural heritage bldg–Mayor Guillen

PIDDIG, Ilocos Norte – The local officials of this town have called on the National Commission on Culture and the Arts to declare the 204-year-old Saint Anne parish church here as a national cultural heritage structure.

“As we all know, we have the separation of the church and state but once our request for declaration of the church as “national cultural heritage” is granted by the NCCA, our local government unit may help find the necessary funds for its (church) restoration,” said Piddig Mayor Eduardo Guillen.

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

This town is also known for the Basi Revolt of 1817.

Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo C. Fariñas had already signified his full support for the immediate restoration of the church.

Last September 14, Bishop Renato Mayugba of the Diocese of Laoag celebrated a mass and closure rites for the Saint Anne parish church after the centuries-old structure was assessed by the LGU- Piddig engineer as dilapidated which could endanger the parishioners.

Piddig is located 21 kilometers east of Laoag City and was 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 five-man Filipino guerilla group to deter any attack by American soldiers.

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

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

The convent was also repaired and converted into a parochial school, the Saint Anne Academy.

The church’s facade was inspired by the baroque Jesuit church of Il Gesu in Rome that was built in 1568. This likeness is seen in the massive buttresses that serve as columns and the volutes that border the altar-shaped pediment.

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. (Freddie G. Lazaro)