The Las Piñas Bamboo Organ in St. Joseph Parish Church in Las Piñas City, Philippines, is a 19th-century church organ with unique organ pipes; they are made almost entirely of bamboo. It was completed in 1824 by Father Diego Cera, the builder of the town's stone church and its first resident Catholic parish priest.
After age and numerous disasters had rendered the musical instrument unplayable for a long time, in 1972, the national government and the local community joined together to have the organ shipped to Germany for restoration. For its anticipated return in 1975, the home church of the bamboo organ and the surrounding buildings were restored to their 19th-century state by Architects Francisco Mañosa and partner Ludwig Alvarez in time for its scheduled return. The annual International Bamboo Organ Festival, a music festival of classical music was started to celebrate the music of the reborn instrument and its unique sound.
Since 1992, Prof. Armando V. Salarza has been the titular organist of the Bamboo Organ. He is also the Artistic Director of the International Bamboo Organ Festival, now the longest-running annual international music festival held in the country.
The organ was declared a National Cultural Treasure of the Philippines in 2003. The St. Joseph Parish Church, the church museum at the old convent house, and the famous organ is a popular tourist destination for Filipinos and foreign visitors alike in Las Piñas.
The builder of both the church and its organ was Father Diego Cera de la Virgen del Carmen, a Catholic priest under the Augustinian Recollects. A native of Spain, he served as parish priest in Las Piñas from 1795 to 1830. Historians[which?] portray him as a gifted man, a natural scientist, chemist, architect, community leader, as well as organist and organ builder.
Having previously built organs in the Manila area with some organ stops made from bamboo, he chose bamboo for most of this organ - only the trumpet stops are made of metal. The choice of bamboo was probably both practical and aesthetic - bamboo was abundant and used for hundreds of items of both a practical and an artistic nature.
Fr. Cera began work on the organ in 1816, while the church was still under construction. The church was completed in 1819 and the organ was playable in 1821, but without the trumpet stops. The organ was finally completed in 1824, after Fr. Cera decided make the trumpets using metal, musical characteristics of which he could not replicate with bamboo.
During Fr. Cera's lifetime, disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons damaged both the church and the organ. Fr. Cera himself was the organ's first "restorer." Down through the years, natural disasters continued to take their toll; the organ was unplayable for years. Somewhat unexpectedly reassembled early in the 20th century, partial restoration took place from time to time up through World War II.
In recent years, several concerted attempts were made to save the instrument. In 1972, a contract for total restoration was awarded to Johannes Klais Orgelbau KG in Bonn, Germany, and it was shipped there on June 29, 1973. While the restoration of the organ was taking place in Germany, a massive project was ongoing at the church. With the help of the community of Las Piñas and many others in the Manila area, the church grounds were restored to its original state.
The restored organ returned home in March 1975 to a joyous welcome by the people of the Philippines. The joint restoration of the church and organ was a triumph of local and international cooperation. Since then, the church have been the scene of many concerts and festivals. The Bamboo Organ is described by many international organ masters as one of the finest old organs in the world. Its construction of bamboo is noted as being one of the major factors that gives it a truly unique and lively sound.
To retain a high standard of quality and reliability, the Bamboo Organ underwent a general overhaul from September, 2003 to November, 2004. This time, the work was done locally by European-trained organ builders of the Diego Cera Organbuilders, Inc. who are also tasked with maintaining the instrument so that future generations will be assured of hearing and experiencing the unique sound of a Philippine treasure.
The National Museum of the Philippines officially declared the Las Piñas Bamboo Organ a National Cultural Treasure on November 24, 2003 for its uniqueness and significance.
Bamboo Organ Foundation
The Bamboo organ Foundation, Inc., is a non-stock, non-profit organization founded to preserve and maintain the historic Bamboo Organ. It also engages in the spiritual, educational and social enrichment of the people of Las Pinas. The foundation also organizes the International Bamboo Organ Festival.
- "Simbahan ng Las Piñas". National Registry of Historic Sites and Structures in the Philippines. Retrieved on 2013-04-21.
- "About the Festival". International Bamboo Organ Festival. Retrieved on 2011-01-07.
- "Artistic Director Armando Salarza". International Bamboo Organ Festival. Retrieved on 2011-01-09.
- "The Only Bamboo Organ in The World". Bambooman.com. Retrieved on 2007-08-10.
- "The Instrument". Bamboo Organ of Las Piñas. Retrieved on 2011-01-08.
- "Diego Cera Organbuilders Brochure". Diego Cera Organbuilders, Inc. Retrieved on 2007-08-10.
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