The town’s stone and brick church, built in the late 18th or early 19th century, is located on top of a hill reached by steps made of cut stones. It was burned by lightning in 1823, damaged by the July 18, 1880 earthquake, was repaired by Fr. Juan Martin in 1883 and the rotten harigues (wooden posts) replaced in 1887 by Fr. Pedro Ibanez. In 1830, Fr. Manuel Foj enlarged the convent.
Its simple, single level Baroque facade (blended with some Neo-Classic elements) has massive, circular buttresses, a recessed arched entrance flanked by two lateral, semicircular arched statued niches, a triangular pediment decorated with striped ornamentation (the only ones in the façade) at the edges and a statued niche, with its elliptical arch, on the upper central portion.
Its unusually shaped piers were said to have been copied from the form of a cigar popular in the region. The heavy cement coating steals the appeal of the “folk” Baroque pilasters and hides the texture of the stone and brick.
Church of St. James the Greater: Manila North Rd., Santiago 2707, Ilocos Norte. Feast of St. James the Greater: July 25.
How to Get There: Santiago is located 358.75 kms. from Manila and 49.25 kms. south of Vigan City.