No Coffee for Sinners

Sta. Maria Travel Blog

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Take heed, kids.
The sun had just risen by the time we arrived in Sta. Maria, a small municipality in Ilocos Sur. With weary limbs and crusty eyes, fueling ourselves with coffee was the first order of the day. There were several carinderias (eateries) that lined the street. Some hadn't opened shop while other shopkeepers seemed upset to receive customers so early in the morning! Well, I suppose I'd be cranky too if I had to do the same at such an ungodly hour! The first one we entered didn't serve coffee, which we all thought was quite strange. They sold all sorts of stuff but no coffee? The lady probably just didn't understand what we wanted, as she spoke a different dialect...? Just a few meters down the street was another eatery, and surprisingly, they didn't serve coffee either! We weren't looking for fancy frapuccinos with skimmed milk, whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate powder, just the common instant 3-in-1 coffee was good enough.
UNESCO sign
How could they not have that? Does coffee even exist in this town? Have they even heard of coffee?

Our efforts seemed futile and we had a long day ahead. Not wanting to waste time, we decided to just make our way across the street to the main draw of this place to the Nuestra SeƱora de la Asuncion or simply put, the Sta. Maria Church. A UNESCO World Heritage Site built by the Agustinians in 1765, it sits 87 steps up a hill just across from where were were standing. There were two reasons for the selection of the site of the church. The first is that the Spaniards needed a fortress to defend themselves from their enemies and, the second, is one of legend. It was believed that a statue of the Virgin Mary that was enshrined in another location would occasionally disappear, and each time she would be found on a guava tree that grew on the site of the church's location.
Sta. Maria Church
The belfry was a later addition, erected in 1810. The church was once again used as a fortress during the Philippine Revolution in 1896.

The interior of the church is well-preserved, but due to its simplicity in design and architecture, makes it less stunning and dramatic. The fresco-less cream walls hold up modest stained glass windows, the altar is not as sophisticated, there's the absence of an apse and chancel, and the pulpit is plain and unembellished. Although lacking the grandeur of her counterparts in Bohol, the Sta. Maria Church remains a beauty on her own.

Directly in front of the church is the Convent of the Benedictine Sisters of the Eucharistic King. Connected to the church through a bridge, it suggests that there may have been a moat or some sort of waterway in back then.
Nave from above
This was originally used as the ecclesiastic offices as well as a home for the clergymen.

Going back down the steps, these 3 would-be church-hopping sinners gave their search for coffee another go. Thankfully, another carinderia had opened and even better, had coffee to serve. Three cheers to you, inday! The shopkeeper seemed reluctant though, as if in total bewilderment as to why people would want that stuff. In any case, Apo, Jen and I enjoyed our spartan breakfast of Nescafe and Marlboros before catching the next bus to Vigan.


Isabetlog says:
Hahah buti nalang we found coffee!! :D I've never tried papaitan...
Posted on: Jun 19, 2008
planisphere says:
i could have settled with papaitan na nga eh. hahaha
Posted on: Jun 19, 2008
cax says:
incredible...nobody can live without coffee :)
Posted on: Jun 18, 2008
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Take heed, kids.
Take heed, kids.
UNESCO sign
UNESCO sign
Sta. Maria Church
Sta. Maria Church
Nave from above
Nave from above
87 steps up
87 steps up
Welcome!
Welcome!
Convent of the Benedictine Sisters…
Convent of the Benedictine Sister…
Mossy buttresses
Mossy buttresses
Leaning belfry
Leaning belfry
Apo
Apo
Nave
Nave
Holy water for sinners
Holy water for sinners
Altar
Altar
Pulpit
Pulpit
Nave
Nave
Sta. Maria Church
Sta. Maria Church
Sta. Maria Church
Sta. Maria Church
Sta. Maria Church
Sta. Maria Church
Convent windows
Convent windows
Visitor entrance
Visitor entrance
Stop snooping!
Stop snooping!
Sta. Maria
photo by: planisphere