Angels in Stone – Pedro Galende, OSA

angelsinstone1.jpg 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 book covers the provinces in Luzon and the Visayas where the Order was most active. Featuring mostly colonial era churches and some that has been subject to indiscriminate renovations and alterations or new structures (post-Spanish) as the old crumbled due to natural and man made calamities.

There are 16 chapters divided into geographical areas. At the start of each chapter is an introduction on the province/area. This is then followed by the specific municipality/town with detailed descriptions: the town’s geographical area, historical foundation, the church’s construction and style, and snippets of historical information. It also has a Glossary as well as very helpful Bibliographical information and footnote details.

The book has been published in two editions and there are differences that will be cited below.

angelsinstone3.jpg Angels in Stone: Architecture of the Augustinian Churches in the Philippines is the first edition published in Manila by G.A. Formoso Publishing, 1987. The seed of an idea was first concieved when the author, after arriving in 1963 toured the churches Pampanga and was awe struck by the beauty of the unique architectural legacies that were built by the Augustinians who came before him. Twenty years later, this book came into fruition.

It consists of around 800 black and white photos that the author himself captured when he visited all the Augustinian churches in the country. Where churches have been altered or are newer structures, an archival photo, if available, of how the colonial era church would have looked like is included. There are also archival photos showing the interior for some churches. angelsinstone4.jpgWhat I liked about this edition is that there are many photos showing various details of the exterior and interior including some furnishings as well as ruins. Architecural details and style samples found at the preface gives the reader an idea of how such style looks like are included as well (but not in the second edition).

This edition is long out of print and very hard to find. It takes a long and persistent search just to find one in specialized bookstores.

The second edition, Angels in Stone: Augustinian Churches in the Philippines was published 9 years after the first edition. Its a heavier and a more elegant book compared to the former and was published in Hongkong. angelsinstone2.jpgThe text has been revised and added with new information inlcuding the four baroque churches inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The biggest change though are the photos. These have been updated and now done in color by the Filipino photographer Dick Baldovino. And, compared to the first edition, the photos are fewer with less details. These are mostly front exterior/facade shots with select churches showing the interior, altar and pulpit.

For one who is a lover of Philippine ecclesiastical architecture, both books are important as the photos in each editions complement.

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