On a hot Maundy Thursday, I randomly asked Vengee Gatmaitan, my bassist and collaborator for my Dragonfly Collector project, to let me experience climbing the bell tower of the historic St. Agustine Church located in our hometown in Baliwag, Bulacan. He’s done some electronic installations from time to time at the church which includes setting up a radio antenna on top of the bell tower. He also provides yearly sound system service during the Holy Week.
On that particular day, he and his team were broadcasting the mass on radio. It timely prompted him to say yes to my thrill seeking request.
The St. Agustine Church’s architectural style is Baroque and has a massive bell tower. It is one of the 11 pilgrimage churches in Bulacan. I live two blocks away. This is my first attempt to go up the belfry and beyond.
We are not certain how high the cross peak is on top, but I can tell you right now it wasn’t an easy climb. The stairs and ladder to the belfry and exconjuratory (the floor after the belfry with the large windows) was a piece of cake. Going up to the last two tiers was rather difficult and a little bit dangerous. I will let the video clip below show you how challenging it is.
“Optional yung pag-akyat, yung pagbaba mandatory.” (Going up is optional, going down is mandatory.)
That was Vengee’s classic response when I was confronted by doubt if I could make it up there. I told him that climbing up is workable, going back down on the other hand is a different story. The thought of which made my heart skip a beat, knowing how steep it was and being ill-equipped for it.
That was the thrill I was seeking for and I made it! A beautiful panoramic view awaited us on top while tightly holding on to the steel cross.
Disclamer: This blog including the photos and video therein is not meant to encourage anyone to do the same. The bell tower is not open to the public and any attempt to climb up the cross peak is dangerous.