Trivia about Philippine Colonial Churches
The hundreds of churches that were built throughout the Philippines were a product of the missionary enterprise of the Spanish regime that began in 1521. In 1899, when the last of the Spanish fleet left the Philippines, they left behind, among many irrevocable influences, hundreds of brick and stone churches throughout the archipelago.
Among these were the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, Manila, St. Augustine (Paoay Church) in llocos Norte, Miagao Church in lloilo City and Barasoain Church in Malolos City.
|Manila Cathedral – The cathedral, also known as the minor basilica of the Immaculate Conception, was the seat of the Archbishop of Manila during the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines, and still remains the ecclesiastical seat of the Archdiocese of Manila. Completed in 1951, the Manilc Cathedral rises majestically over the remains of five predecessors, the first of which was erected in 1581. Four of the previous constructions were destroyed by earthquakes and fires, the fifth was reduced to a bombed-out shell during the Battle for Manila in 1945. The new Romanesque edificf incorporates stone carvings and rosette windows salvaged from the ruins.
|St. Augustine Church (Paoay Church) – Popularly known as Paoay Church, St. Augustine Church was built in 1694 through the efforts of Augustinian friars led by Fr. Antonio Estavillo. Considered as the most outstanding variant of the “earthquake Baroque”, the church was built of baked bricks, coral rocks, salbot (tree sap) and lumber, and has 24 curved buttresses. Earthquake damaged portions of the church in 1865 and 1885. In an excavation conducted inside the church in 2000, a prehistoric human skeleton and fragmented ceramics were discovered and are now on display at the National Museum. The Paoay Church was declared a national treasure by then President Ferdinand Marcos. Now included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List, it revealed several structural decays after centuries of exposure to the elements and will soon undergo restoration under the auspices of UNESCO.
|Miagao Church – The Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva in the town of Miagao, lloilo is one of the Philippines’ architectural and religious gems. Built between 1787 and 1797, its fortress-like design suggests its dual purpose as a place of worship and as a fort used in defending the town against Moro raiders at the time. It is one of only four (Augustinian-built) churches in the country to make it to the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List. Its unique features include the unusual Aztec like bas-relief in the facade depicting St. Christopher carrying the baby Jesus through a tropical forest. The adobe used in building the church is made from silt and clay that can only be found in this part of lloilo, giving the building a unique warm-yellowish glow. Flying buttresses from the side of the church walls are typical of the “earthquake baroque” design reminiscent of churches in llocos, particularly that of Paoay Church and Vigan Cathedral. Also of note are the dissimilar designs of the two belfries; both were commissioned by two different parish priests. The church’s simple interior is nevertheless highlighted by a striking gold-plated retablo. Miagao is about 40kms southwest of lloilo City.
|Barasoain Church – A national shrine, this historic church is the site of the Constitutional Convention of the first Philippine Republic. It is in this church that the Malolos Constitution was drafted on September 29, 1898. Founded by Augustinian Missionaries in 1859, it is said to be a replica of the Barasoain Church in Navarra, Spain