Simbahan – Regalado Trota Jose

Cover of this important book by Regalado Trota Jose

Cover of this important book by Regalado Trota Jose

When it comes to Philippine colonial era churches, nothing parallels Simbahan: Church Art in Colonial Philippines 1565-1898 by Regalado Trota Jose (RTJ) in terms of scope, detail and importance. This handy but very useful book is my primary reference when I want to understand more about a particular part of the church structure and other pertinent details.

Sample chapter starting page

Sample chapter starting page

Of course, there are other books on Philippine colonial churches but most, especially the coffeetable books focus on the architecture and styles of these edifices. In RTJ’s work, he not only traces the concept of the simbahan in pre-hispanic Philippines to its development under the different religious orders but disects the structures:

This book is on churches and other religious edifices built in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial regime, 1565-1898. The forms, materials and construction techniques of these edifices will be discussed, along with their furnishings such as religious statuary, paintings and vessels.

Simbahan is no boring text book. Interspersed with the articles are impressive images that the author took during the 60’s and 70’s and now under the Ayala Museum Iconographic Archive. Another thing that I do like are the various archival images that makes this book not only an important text reference but these old images provide a glimpse of how these churches, its interiors, exteriors and artifacts looked a hundred years ago. Add to that, the photographs’ coverage is extensive, from Batanes to Sulu!

Glossary page

Glossary page

The book has nine chapters and four appendices including glossary of archival terms, lists of lumber producing trees and forest products from archival sources, church documentation checklist and church art description form. Important references, list of archival sources and details of the author’s documentation trips are included.

Simbahan was published by the Ayala Foundation in 1992. Book design by Guillermo Ramos, Jr. and maps by Nelson Yu. Softbound copies are available at the Ayala Museum gift shop for just P250 ($5.20 at P48=$1)


  1. Hey,I have this book. This comes in handy for those who want to know more about the details that make up not only our rituals but the intsruments that make up the church.

  2. Hi Estan, do you have Fr. Javellana’s email? I recently met him at the old Jesuit house, I was with a group of USC students. The Jesuit house was recently opened for the public by the Sys.



  3. Arnaldo, I don’t have his email address. I think Arnold Carl has it. I plan to go back to the Jesuit house to photograph the new developments since what I have was the old and chaotic place before it was opened.

  4. too bad the museum said that they dont know if there will be a next delivery for this book. If any of you know any other place where I can get a copy of this book please post it here

  5. Again:

    for this book I know two outlets:

    – Ayala Museum but, from the comment above, no stock avaiable

    – Filipinas Heritage Library infront of Manila Pen near the corner of Ayala and Makati Ave.

  6. Ronald,

    Ricky Jose is generally unavailable (so I have been told) as he is now a seminarian. Regarding your cathedral at Calbayog, I would advise contacting the Permanent Committee for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, a committee of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines for help with this issue. Your diocese likely has a point person for church heritage, which would deal directly with these concerns.

  7. Actually, from reading your blog Ronald, your diocese had the best possible advice from Prof. Eric Zerrudo. This stripping of the “skin” of the church has previously been an issue (most famously the Sarrat church in Ilocos stripped for a Marcos wedding). Prof. Zerrudo is likely the best authority in the Philippines on this matter, so be comforted!

  8. Pingback: Interview: Arnold Carl Sancover, Cebu heritage blogger | langyaw

  9. Hi!

    So sorry for this very late reply. I was actually trying to get an update on Trota Regalado Jose and I found myself back in this page. Neway, thanks for the reply. I did meet Prof. Eric and his companions. I;m still trying to give them an updae on the project. Yup it’s still continuing. thanks again!

  10. Good day Sir, may I ask if this book is still available until now? I want to purchase one sofbound copy.

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