Great Churches of the Philippines by Pedro Galende, OSA and Rene Javellana, SJ is one of those books that you just have to get, pour over and read again and again. That is if your into Philippine churches and Spanish colonial architecture in the country. This 1996, now out of print book and very much hard to find, was one of those publications that presented these architectural gems with its distinct Philippine style in a new light: beautiful pictures with short but concise text.
I got my copy around ten years ago in Cebu. Looking at the wonderful cover of the stunning Tumauini church in Isabela, one is immediately drawn. This is the book that made me visit this northern edifice a few years later.
It’s lightweight, with just 76 pages, which, I think, is good for this kind of publication. Not too heavy to digest considering that it tackles 29 churches. The text is quite familiar. A short history of the structure is followed with the architectural description of the façade and the interior, a writing style that echoes Galende’s, one of the authors, Angel in Stone. It also includes a short glossary as well as a primer on church architecture that walks one to the various parts of the structure.
Great Churches of the Philippines was published by Bookmark, one of the publishing houses that has brought us wonderful titles specifically focusing on Philippine art and culture. Photography was done by Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan and Boldy Tapales. Design and wonderful illustrations by Robert Alejandro.
Twenty-nine churches built from the late sixteenth to the nineteenth century are featured in this introduction to the rich legacy of Philippine colonial architecture. The churches have been chosen for their age, state of preservation and architectural value or cultural significance, which place them above the rest as exemplary. The text gives a history of each church and point to its significant architectural and artistic features. The intimate connection between the churches and the faith of the Filipinos is underscored in this book. The color photographs lead the eye to see each church against the panorama of the Philippine landscape and highlight captivating details.
The twenty nine churches are from 16 provinces in the country that can be found in Luzon and the Visayas. It would have been better if the authors included Jimenez in Misamis Occidental, an equally beautiful church, to make it thirty as well as represent Mindanao.
The book covers the following churches:
- Sta. Maria
- Sta. Lucia
- San Agustin
- San Sebastian
- Las Piñas
- Sto. Niño
This is a must have book and you should get one, if you can still find a copy.