One of the most accessible book on Philippine Churches is the earlier landmark work of Pedro G. Galende, OSA, Director of the San Agustin Musuem, entitled Angels in Stone: Augustinian Churches in the Philippines. It has been dubbed as the first comprehensive documentation of Augustinian churches in the Philippines and the most authoratitative piece of literature in its class. Here the author documents the 162 churches that the Augustinians have erected in the country from the start of their evangelization in 1565 until the end of Spanish administration in 1898 spanning a good 333 years.
The beautiful and ancient church of San Agustin San Agustin, the oldest stone church in the country has the distinction of being made entirely of stone and the first earthquake-proof structure to be erected on Philippine soil. It is solid, compact and well executed that it has survived earthquakes, bombings and both natural and man-made disasters in its 400 years of existence.
San Agustin: Art and History, 1571 – 2000 by Pedro Galende, OSA and Regalado Trota Jose, both noted and respected figures of Philippine colonial church history and its ardent supporters and proponents, is a wonderful book on the oldest stone church in the country. It is a follow-up to the first author’s work, San Agustin: Noble Stone Shrine, which was published 10 years before this title.
Chinese fu dogs/lions guard the portals and the patio of San Agustin: four located at the facade with one (not shown) have a broken part of the head, and two at the front entrance of the low fence around the patio. One figure is holding its baby while two other figures seem to be playing and holding a ball. These are interesting since these are clearly Chinese in origin but is part of a Christian religious structure.
Just before one enters San Agustin, one is already introduced to the massive and richly carved portal bearing the symbols of the Augustinian order as well as the carvings of the order’s founder and his mother. It awes. Its rocaille embellishments, said to be a characteristic of Rococo, a successor to the Baroque style, are highly stylized forms of leaves, rocks and shells.