Title: La Casa de Dios: The Legacy of Filipino-Hispanic Churches in the Philippines
Author: Fr. Rene B. Javellana, SJ
The first publication of the Ortigas Foundation, Inc., this book marks the culmination of twelve-year photo documentation project on Filipino-Hispanic churches initiated by the foundation first's president, Rafael Ortigas, Jr.
The author, Fr. Rene Javellana S.J., a renowned authority on church history, deftly weaves together the stories of the different socio-economic interrelationships, within the Philippines as well as with Spain, Mexico and other Asian countries that created Philippine culture as we know it today.
The book is complemented by an array of fine photographs as well as essays from the different dominant religious orders that established the towns and churches all over our archipelago in order to spread Christianity. Cultural trail maps invite the reader to visit these great monuments of faith.
The book is Ortigas Foundation's contribution to a better understanding of the roots of Philippine history and culture through the stories of different churches. It is also meant to highlight the critical need to preserve our fascinating but rapidly disappearing heritage.
La Casa de Dios : The Legacy of Filipino-Hispanic Churches began as a personal project of Rafael Ortigas Jr., whose love for the Spanish heritage of the Philippines moved him to have the churches of the colonial era documented photographically. Mr. Ortigas' dream was to catalogue all the churches in the Philippines, not just as a testament to Spanish heritage, of which he was duly proud, but more importantly as a witness to the teachings of the Catholic Church, the Church close to his own heart.
The photo project went on for over 12 years up to his death in 2009, when it was still not finished. This was an ambitious project, no doubt, and posed challenges all its own. A complete catalogue would have to first identify how many churches were built during the Spanish colonial era, and what would constitute inclusion because there are many types of churches, and what would be considered colonial if the structure was no longer in its original form.
The question of quantity was a problem. Do you count all the churches built on the same spot, more or less? The Manila Cathedral, according to its official count, was rebuilt eight times but even more than that if major renovations are counted. How do you handle churches built over a long period of time? Or those that have been renovated? In Bohol, for instance, many pre-existing churches had Classical-type porticoes added in the 19th century such as those of Loboc, Baclayon and Dauis. There is the question of time. Would Dauis, with its Grecian-type facade, be counted as Spanish colonial, when the facade was completed only in 1926? Or should Molo's or Maribojoc's altars be counted when they were finished in the 1920s? And finally, how do you handle a church complex? Many churches were not meant to stand alone. Some were integral parts of a military fortification, like Cuyo Church, whose lateral wall is the fourth wall in a pentagonal fort plan. Including the documentation of such features as bastions and sentinel houses would be necessary if a complete catalogue is desired.
So if this book cannot be a catalogue for the reasons enunciated, what then is it? This is a work of synthesis, a popular work that weaves together disparate threads in the discourse on colonial art. It corrects misconception by providing context. Much of the discussion on colonial architecture, especially churches, has been parochial; or at best, its perspective has been national rather than international. But Philippine churches and other Hispanic buildings are product of interrelationship.
It is this interrelationship that is highlighted here in writing that develops a more interpretive approach. It is a presentation of church buildings as part of a complex of buildings that along with the town plan created the Philippines of today. It is an appreciation of the church building as a "living space" with a running commentary on the contribution of Catholicism to the building of Philippine culture.
Finally, this is a practical guide to the more than 300 churches, photographed and archives in the Ortigas Foundation Library. Heritage trails are proposed so that the readers will go beyond the printed page, take a road trip and see for themselves these beautiful treasures.
Price: US$189.95 (Hardbound)