After we had our hearty breakfast of Ilocano longganisa dipped in their native vinegar (now I’m drooling) in Balay da Blas where we stayed, we headed to the quite town of Sarrat which a few kilometers from the city proper of Laoag City. There are two main attractions in this town – The Edralin-Marcos Museum and the Sarrat Church.
Sta. Monica Parish Church or simply Sarrat Church is one of the most popular destinations in Ilocos Norte not just for its heritage and cultural significance but it was this same church that one of the most lavish weddings in the country happened. It was in June 11, 1983 that then presidential daughter Irene Marcos wed a member of the scion clan of the Aranetas, Greggy Araneta.
The wedding was one of the ways that the Marcoses showed their indulgence as they built the Laoag Airport and the Fort Ilocandia Resort and Casino just for the wedding. The sleepy town was transformed into a bustling village during the Marcos-Araneta Nuptials that many people compared it to the royal wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. And it doesn’t end there, for the church was badly damaged when a 7.6 intensity earthquake hit Sarrat which some say was a premonition of the inevitable downfall of the Marcos regime.
The town of Sarrat is important for the Marcos family since the president, Ferdinand Marcos was born in this town before they moved to Batac when he was eight. Fabian Ver who was also very active during the Marcos regime was from Sarrat. One of the guesthouses of Marcos is in Sarat which was abandoned for many years and now a government office.
Setting aside Marcos- Araneta weddings, Sta. Monica Church is no doubt a very lovely structure of Neo-classical and Baroque features. Its bell tower which was severely damaged during the earthquake is now fully restored. The façade of Sarrat Church is not intricate but is made of baked red bricks with some jars used as ornament. The church also faces a river in which during summer, huts were built for families along with balikbayans to have some nice picnic along the riverbank.
The interior of the church is also very simple, not a hint of glamor from the wedding that happened more than two decades ago. No tall pillar or sculptures inside, maybe the ornaments were all ravaged by the past earthquakes that the church succumbed to in the past.
Another structure that lies just next to the church is its Museum. It’s hard to miss this building for yet again, made of red baked bricks which always attract my attention. We missed the chance to visit the museum since it was a Sunday when we went there. I have read in one blog that the museum was once a trial court during the Spanish era.