Tag Archives: Ilocos Sur

#313 Magsingal Church & Belfry

Magsingal Church Belfry

The Magsingal Church (San Guillermo Church) in Magsingal, Ilocos Sur province, northern Luzon, is among the region’s treasured Baroque Catholic churches. Magsingal Church became a parish 1676. The church itself is dedicated to St. William the Hermit. It is famous for its wooden altar, a very intricately-carved gold and green retablo,  which is still in use. The facade of the church is wonderfully preserved but the belfry is the church’s main attraction. 

Beside the church is a rectory (also built in 1676) which was converted as a branch of the National Museum. The rectory’s strong foundation of bricks, lime and stone withstood disastrous calamities like fire, typhoons and earthquakes. The rectory was also used as a school building during the early American regime. During the Japanese occupation, the museum served as an interment for the residents of Magsingal who were punished for the murder of a Japanese captain. (Source: Various Internet postings)

Long live Baroque Philippine churches!

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#175 Basi

Basi is a fermented alcoholic beverage made of sugarcane produced in the Philippines and Guyana (from Wikipedia).

Basi is the local beverage of Ilocos province in northern Luzon, Philippines. The town of San Ildefonso claims to be original producer of this local ‘wine’ which has been produced way before the Spanish colonial period. In the Philippines, commercial basi is produced by first crushing sugarcane and extracting the juice. The juice is boiled in vats and then stored in earthen jars.

Once the juice has cooled, flavourings made of ground glutinous rice and duhat (java plum) bark or other fruits or barks are added. The jars are then sealed with banana leaves and allowed to ferment for several years. The resulting drink is pale red in color. If fermented longer, it turns into vinegar.

Basi occupies a footnote in Philippine history. The 1807 Basi Revolt in Piddig, Ilocos Norte, took place when the Philippines’ Spanish rulers effectively banned the private manufacture of the beverage. On September 28, 2007 Philippines officials commemorated the “Basi Revolt”  in San Ildefonso, Ilocos Sur.

Recently, the San Ildefonso town council also approved a city resolution declaring September 16 as a non-working holiday in honor of the Basi Revolt. A Basi Festival is also held annually in Naguilian, La Union.

Mabuhay ang basi!

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