Baroque Churches of the Philippines
|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
San Agustin Church
Our Lady of the Assumption Church
|Criteria||Cultural: (ii), (iv)|
|Inscription||1993 (17th Session)|
The Baroque Churches of the Philippines are a collection of four Spanish-era baroque churches in the Philippines, which were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993. The churches are also considered as national cultural treasures of the country.
A proposal has been suggested by scholars to make a separate UNESCO inclusion for the entire Intramuros district, which would include San Agustin Church. The same would be made for the other three churches (Paoay Church, Santa Maria Church, and Miagao Church) listed in UNESCO, where each town plaza and surrounding heritage buildings would be added. The move would separate the 4 properties of the site and would fruit into 4 distinct UNESCO World Heritage Sites for the Philippines. No government agency has yet to take action on the proposal.
The collection is composed of the following:
San Agustin Church
The San Agustin Church in Manila, also known as The Church of the Immaculate Conception of San Agustín was the first church built on the island of Luzon in 1571, immediately after the Spanish conquest of Manila. A site within the district of Intramuros was assigned to the Augustinian Order, the first to evangelize in the Philippines. In 1587 the impermanent earliest building in wood and palm fronds was replaced by a stone church and monastery in stone, the latter becoming the Augustinian mother house in the Philippines.
It was the only structure in Intramuros to survive the Liberation of Manila in 1945. Miag-ao became an independent parish in 1731, when a simple church and convento were built. However, destruction of the town by Muslim pirates in 1741 and 1754 led to the town being rebuilt in a more secure location. The new church, constructed in 1787-97, was built as a fortress, to withstand further incursions. It was, however, damaged severely by fire during the revolution against Spain in 1898 and in the Second World War. Two bell towers were added in 1854, but the northern one cracked in the 1880 earthquake and had to be demolished. In the interior of the church the wall paintings date from the 19th century, but they overlie the original tempera murals.
As a result, the church was richly endowed, with a fine retablo, pulpit, lectern and choir-stalls. Of special interest is the series of crypto-collateral chapels lining both sides of the nave. The walls separating them act as buttresses. The stone barrel vault, dome, and arched vestibule are all unique in the Philippines. A monastery complex was formerly linked to the church by a series of cloisters, arcades, courtyards and gardens, but all except one building were destroyed in 1945.
Santa Maria Church
The Santa Maria Church is located in the municipality of Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur. Unlike other town churches in the Philippines, which conform to the Spanish tradition of sitting them on the central plaza, the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria with its convento are on a hill surrounded by a defensive wall. Also unusual are the sitting of the convento parallel to the facade of the church and that of the separate bell tower (characteristic of Philippine-Hispanic architecture) at the midpoint of the nave wall. This was dictated by the hill on which it is located.
The brick church follows the standard Philippine layout, with a monumental facade masking a straight roof-line covering a long rectangular building. It is alleged to be built on a solid raft as a precaution against earthquake damage. The walls are devoid of ornament but have delicately carved side entrances and strong buttresses
The Paoay Church, also known as the Church of San Agustín, is located in Paoay, Ilocos Norte. It is the most outstanding example in the Philippines of an Earthquake Baroque style architecture. Fourteen buttresses are ranged along the lines of a giant volute supporting a smaller one and surmounted by pyramidal finials. A pair of buttresses at the midpoint of each nave wall have stairways for access to the roof. The lower part of the apse and most of the walls are constructed of coral stone blocks, the upper levels being finished in brick, but this order is reversed on the facade. The massive coral stone bell tower, which was added half a century after the church was completed, stands at some distance from the church, again as a protection against damage during earthquakes.
The Miagao Church, also known as the Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva, stands on the highest point in the town of Miagao, Iloilo. The church's towers served as lookouts against Muslim raids and it is the finest surviving example of 'Fortress Baroque'. The sumptuous facade epitomizes the Filipino transfiguration of western decorative elements, with the figure of St Christopher on the pediment dressed in native clothes, carrying the Christ Child on his back, and holding on to a coconut palm for support. The entire riotously decorated facade is flanked by massive tapering bell towers of unequal heights.
The Philippines, a country with hundreds of historical churches, is promoted to be more active in the engagement of the National Government and concerned private and public entities to establish more UNESCO designated Church Heritage Sites in the Philippines to safeguard national treasures more effectively and to promote the country's booming tourism further.
The current official tentative sites for extension are the following:
- Loboc Church of Loboc, Bohol (was also a part of the former Jesuit Churches of the Philippines nomination)
- Boljoon Church of Baljoon, Cebu
- Guiuan Church of Guiuan, Eastern Samar (was also part of the former Jesuit Churches of the Philippines nomination)
- Tumauini Church of Tumauini, Isabela
- Lazi Church of Lazi, Siquijor
Former tentative sites:
- Baclayon Church of Baclayon, Bohol (as a part of the former Jesuit Churches of the Philippines nomination)
- Maragondon Church of Maragondon, Cavite (as a part of the former Jesuit Churches of the Philippines nomination)
- San Sebastian Church in Manila (as a single nomination)
National Cultural Treasures
Aside from these five churches, another church which is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List is the Vigan Cathedral under the inscription Historic Town of Vigan. The Philippine National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) has also designated the conservation and protection of more than 30 other Spanish-era churches to be of utmost importance. These were registered as National Cultural Treasures.
These churches were given priority status not just due to their historical value, but also based on the geographic representation of various regions across the nation:
- Parish Church of San Agustin in Bacong, Negros Oriental
- Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception in Balayan, Batangas
- Santiago Apostol Parish Church in Betis, Guagua, Pampanga
- Parish Church of Patrocinio de Maria in Boljoon, Cebu 2
- Parish Church of Saint Rose of Lima in Gamu, Isabela
- Parish Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Calasiao, Pangasinan
- Parish Church of San Vicente de Ferrer in Dupax del Sur, Nueva Vizcaya
- Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception in Guiuan, Eastern Samar 1,2
- Parish Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan
- Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception in Jasaan, Misamis Oriental
- Parish Church of San Juan Bautista in Jimenez, Misamis Occidental
- Parish Church of San Isidro Labrador in Lazi, Siquijor 2
- Parish Church of San Pedro and San Pablo in Loboc, Bohol 1,2
- Parish Church of Santa Catalina de Alejandria in Luna, La Union
- Parish Church of San Carlos Borromeo in Mahatao, Batanes
- Parish Church of San Guillermo de Aquitania in Magsingal, Ilocos Sur
- Parish Church of San Gregorio Magno in Majayjay, Laguna
- Parish Church of the Assumption of Our Lady in Maragondon, Cavite 1
- Parish Church of San Andres in Masinloc, Zambales
- Parish Church of Santa Monica in Panay, Capiz
- Cathedral of San Jose in Romblon, Romblon
- Parish Church of San Joaquin in San Joaquin, Iloilo
- Parish Church of San Juan Bautista in Tabaco City, Albay
- Parish Church of San Ildefonso in Tanay, Rizal
- Parish Church of San Pablo in San Pablo, Isabela
- Basilica of St Michael the Archangel in Tayabas, Quezon
- Parish Church of Santa Catalina de Alejandria in Tayum, Abra
- Parish Church of San Matias in Tumauini, Isabela 2
- Parish Church of Santa Cruz in Maribojoc, Bohol
- Parish Church of San Andres Apostol in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte
- Camarin de la Virgen, Parish Church of Nuestra Sra. De los Desamparados in Sta. Ana, Manila
- Parish Church of Our Lady of the Gate (Eastern & Western Facades, Belfry and Baptistry) in Daraga, Albay
- Parish Church of Our Lady of Light in Loon, Bohol
- Parish Church of Santa Monica in Minalin, Pampanga
- Parish Church of San Nicolas de Tolentino in Dimiao, Bohol
Important Cultural Properties
- Parish of the Holy Sacrifice in UP Diliman, Quezon City
- San Agustin Church (Lubao) in Lubao, Pampanga
National Historical Landmarks
- Abucay Church Historical Landmark in Abucay, Bataan
- Barasoain Church Historical Landmark in Malolos, Bulacan
- Church of Baler Historical Landmark in Baler, Aurora
- Lubao Church Historical Landmark in Lubao, Pampanga
- Chapel of the Holy Sacrifice in UP Diliman, Quezon City
- San Sebastian Church Historical Landmark (Quiapo, Manila)
- Calamba Church Historical Landmark in Calamba City, Laguna
- Church of Paete in Paete, Laguna
- Taal Church Historical Landmark in Taal, Batangas
- Cathedral of Boac Historical Landmark in Boac, Marinduque
- Quipayo Church Historical Landmark in Calabanga, Camarines Sur
- Barotac Nuevo Church, Convent and Cemetery Historical Landmark in Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo
- Dumangas Church Historical Landmark in Dumangas, Iloilo
- Ermita Chapel Historical Landmark in Dumangas, Iloilo
- Jaro Belfry Historical Landmark in Jaro, Iloilo City
- Molo Church Historical Landmark in Molo, Iloilo City
- Baclayon Church Historical Landmark in Baclayon, Bohol 1
- Church and Convent of Santo Niño in Cebu City
- Church of Nuestra Señora de la Concepcion Historical Landmark in Argao, Cebu
- Church of San Guillermo de Aquitania Historical Landmark in Dalaguete, Cebu
- Church of the Most Holy Trinity Historical Landmark in Loay, Bohol
- Maasin Church in Maasin City, Southern Leyte
1 On August 15, 1993, these churches, along with the one in Baclayon, Bohol were nominated for World Heritage Site status as part of the Jesuit Churches of the Philippines.
2 On May 16, 2006, the NCCA nominated a new set of churches as part of the extension of the Baroque Churches of the Philippines World Heritage Site. With the inclusion of two churches from the Jesuit Churches nomination, these two proposals will likely be combined.
- Baroque architecture
- Spanish Colonial architecture
- Earthquake Baroque
- Architecture of the Philippines
- "21 World Heritage Sites you have probably never heard of". Daily Telegraph.
- Baroque Churches of the Philippines. UNESCO World Heritage Site