CHURCHES are always on the list of must-see whenever I find myself in a new place. Where this fascination for this structure comes from, I don’t know. But the main reason I took up architecture in college was that I wanted to build the first all-glass church in the world. I finished the course but never got to start on the dream.
Living and raised in a Catholic country, this fascination is fed -- with gusto! Around the archipelago are amazing churches that I have yet to marvel at. Some I have been lucky enough to have visited and heard mass in, some are yet to be visited.
So on this Maundy Thursday, let me do my Catholic duty of Visita Iglesia and visit and revisit the “something old, something awesome” Houses of God. It may not be the “traditional” way, but hey it’s the thought that counts.
Paoay Church, Ilocos Norte. Completed in 1710. Famous for its distinct architecture highlighted by the enormous buttresses on the sides and rear of the building, a design feature to withstand earthquakes that commonly occur throughout the country. It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as one best examples of the Baroque Churches of the Philippines in 1993.
San Augustin Church, Intramuros, Manila, originally known as Iglesia de San Pablo. Built in 1589 during the Spanish colonial period, it is the oldest stone church in the country. It was named a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine government in 1976, and designated as a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1993 under the collective title Baroque Churches of the Philippines. Trivia: since the time of its foundation, the devotion to Nuestra Senora dela Consolacion y Cirrea is celebrated every Saturday: and, it holds the tomb of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, founder of the City of Manila.
Baclayon Church, Bohol, aka the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Baclayon is considered to be one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. Constructed with blocks carved out of coral stones and egg whites as cement. The present structure was completed in 1727 with the bell added in 1835. Trivia: 200 natives were forced into labor to construct the church; and, there’s a dungeon where natives violating the rules of the Roman Catholic Church were punished.
The Basilica Minore de San Sebastián, Manila, a.k.a. San Sebastián Church. Following several re-buildings (in wood and brick destroyed by fire and earthquakes), the present structure was completed in 1891 and is noted for its Gothic architectural features. It is the only all-steel basilica in Asia, and claimed as the only prefabricated steel church in the world. It was designated as a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine government in 1973, and included in the Tentative List for possible designation as a World Heritage Site in 2006. Trivia: Rumor has it that French engineer Gustave Eiffel was involved in the design and construction of this Church.
Church of Saint Louis, Bishop of Toulouse, Lucban, Quezon. Not only does the province have the Pahiyas, it also has this church that enshrines the patron saint the festival is dedicated to. The church was initially created in 1593 but destroyed in 1629. The second church was constructed between 1630 and 1640, gutted by fire in 1733 and reconstructed in 1738. It was partly destroyed during the World War II in 1945 and renovated by the Philippine Historical Commission in 1966.
Binondo Church, Binondo District, Manila aka Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz (the first Filipino saint canonized in 1987) was founded by Dominican priests in 1596 to serve their Chinese converts to Christianity. The current granite church was completed on the same site in 1852 and features an octagonal bell tower which suggests the Chinese culture of the parishioners.
Basílica Menor del Santo Niño aka Minor Basilica of the Holy Child, Cebu City was founded in the 16th century (the present building completed 1739-1740) and is the Roman Catholic church established in the country. It was built on the spot where the image of the Santo Niño de Cebú, a statue depicting the Holy Child Jesus, was found by a soldier preserved in a burnt wooden box after Legazpi razed the village of hostile natives in1565.
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