Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Town that Would Never Sink : Narvacan

(This is part of my Ilocos Sur townhopping last June 15-16, 2013)

I have reached Narvacan only 15-20 minutes after leaving the town of Santa Maria. I have included the town in my itinerary because I read from somewhere that it has a beautiful church with centuries old of history tucked within it. As I am really a history and heritage structure buff, I know I have to visit this town. 

Narvacan Church. Ilocos Sur.
The first thing I have seen upon arriving at the town is their spacious plaza in front of a modernly-designed town hall. The Narvacan Plaza is currently undergoing some renovation when I get there so I didn't manage to get good shots of it. It actually has a fountain designed as a galleon, which I am assuming is a reference to the story how the town got it's name.

Narvacan Town Hall. Ilocos Sur
The town supposedly got its name due to an event that would later shape the town's history itself. Narvacan was, according to local history, discovered by Captain Juan de Salcedo, leader of the Spanish expeditionary force sent from Vigan. Captain Salcedo's group was shipwrecked along the town's coast and while the natives are rescuing them, they asked what is the name of the place. The leader of the natives, not knowing any Spanish language only managed to ask back, in Ilokano, "Narbakan?", meaning "are you shipwrecked?". The Spaniards thought this was the name of the place and from then on, that place was called "Narvacan". 


Narvacan Church. Ilocos Sur.
The town's crowning glory, except from "Paraiso ni Juan" (a grotto built atop the rock near the shore of the town where Juan de Salcedo's group was shipwrecked), is it's many centuries old church. The Narvacan Parish was established in 1587, a good 400 years plus before now. Said parish formerly administers the visitas, now towns, of Santa Maria, Santiago and San Esteban, all of Ilocos Sur.

Narvacan Church Altar. Ilocos Sur.
The stone church was a casualty of different calamities such as earthquake, fire, and war bombs, but is rebuilt and restored each time. The present church, probably built in 1701 according to biyahero.net, is still a restoration of early 17th century structure. It goes to show that the present church is almost the same as the church that was seen by many generations before us!

Narvacan Church Interior. Ilocos Sur.
The church interior is somewhat modern. Though the thick walls of the church, noticeable in the part where the windows are attached, tells the age when the church was built, all other elements of the church interior is of present age. One place where one can find a trace of the church's old age is on its side where original parts of the doorway were left as is, showing the design and materials used before. 


Narvacan Church. Side doorway. Ilocos Sur.
The church's bell tower can be found on the church's right side, a distance away from the main church. This bell tower is not part of the original complex but was a later addition of Fray Jose Rosenio in 1864.

Narvacan Bell Tower. Ilocos Sur.
I was definitely awed by the beauty of Narvacan Church. One problem I just noticed is the many dangling spaghetti wires in front of the church obstructing the structure's beautiful view. Narvacan is very lucky to have a very beautiful heritage structure of its own so I think the local government should help in preserving it and do something on keeping its beauty by keeping away problems as petty as dangling wires.

Aside from the church, the town plaza, and Paraiso ni Juan, Narvacan also has Sulvec Beach, the Northern Luzon Heroes Hill National Park (a stronghold of Gabriela Silang during Ilokano's battle for freedom) and Spanish-era Watchtower as some of its spots worthy of visiting. 

The town's historicity and the continued effort of Narvacan people to preserve its history and heritage properties as well as their aim to get Narvacan known throughout the country (read about it here) is a clear indication that Narvacan would definitely not sink to the bottom like what happened to Juan Salcedo's ship.




21 comments :

  1. Honestly, this is the first time I've heard about the place NARVACAN. So glad to read such post like this even if I am not a well-traveled person I can still have information and I can see places through pictures. Great!

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  2. Your title really caught my attention.Indeed, Narvacan is home to some well-preserved Spanish built church.

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  3. So that's how Narvacan got its name! I've actually been to Ilocos Sur, but wasn't able to head down to this area. Although it reminded me of Paoay Church's current state, in Laoag. It's evident that it has also been restored. I also remembered the St. William's Cathedral, where the sinking belltower is also separate from the church. :)

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  4. Though I live in the PH, but I am not very familiar with some places here. Narvacan is one of them. What particular part of the country this place. Is it in Ilocos? Is it somewhere in Vigan?

    I was interested how Narvacan got her name.

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    1. It's in Ilocos Sur, malapit lang po sa Santa Maria kung saan matatagpuan ang Santa Maria Church na isang UNESCO World Heritage Site...

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  5. Ilocos really has the best churches. I was able to visit this place before.

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  6. It is nice to hear about places like Narvacan. Hopefully, I can visit soon.

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  7. i never thought there's a place like narvacan. will check this out!

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  8. Just in time, I have trip to Ilocos next week. I'm not much into old structures, though. I might check Sulvec Beach.

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  9. Narvacan Church is well- maintained... exterior and interior wise. The town locals must be so proud to have such religious structure that stood the tests of time and still serving its purpose.

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  10. It's amazing to know that they have maintained a 400 years plus relic. It's really part of Philippine history, something to be proud of.

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  11. I'm interested into old building structures that depicts the architectural era of a structure. Ilocos region is a place I've not yet visited. Glad to get some info of this place.

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  12. What are those spaghetti wires? Haha first I thought they were really food but then maybe they are damages or dirt?

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  13. Now I really regret not being able to go with my friends to Ilocos sur. The place is really nice. It's amazing to see places and tourist spots that have been there for ages.

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  14. We missed visiting Narvacan church when we had our 3 days Ilocos tour. I'll just admire it here from your photos.

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  15. wow! i wish I could visit this beautiful and relaxing place someday, never been to ilocos and I heard from my friends that they have a lot of great sceneries and delicious local dishes.

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  16. I keep on visiting your blogs for photos. Is it okay to ask if anong font ang ginagamit mo for the water marks? Yung big one. Ang ganda kasi :)

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    1. It's harabara ma'am, the same font use in "it's more fun in the Philippines" meme... :)

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  17. I've heard a lot of good stories about Ilocos from several travelers. I would love to visit this place too soon and of course, I will visit all those churches that you have mentioned in here.

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  18. I think majority of old churches have nice stories to tell. Common plot in history is "someone asks the name of the place but the residents won't understand him, they'll give an answer and the one asking would think that's the name of the place."

    Anyway, this church has a nice structural built. I hope too that people would be able to preserve its "original" look.

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  19. I have this class called Aral Pil 12 that focuses on Philippine Studies and in particular, language and I got to share this how-Narvacan-got-its-name to class really cool. I remembered the "sugbu" became Cebu story from this one. Sana makapag-around the Philippines din me :D *Aljon :)*

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