Colonial Churches of the Philippines
(Also identified as National Cultural Treasures)
The Philippines is home to hundreds of centuries-old Spanish colonial churches. Built at the height of Spanish influence in the archipelago, these churches are a fusion of European and Asian architectural motifs. Today, the Philippines’ colonial churches still stand out from the country’s modern cityscapes and continue to play a key role in the spiritual development of the country’s 58 million Catholics.Although these churches have remained largely intact for centuries, the ravages of pollution and urban development have taken their toll on these edifices.
It is for this reason that the Philippine government, through the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), has begun restoration work on *37 churches that have been identified as National Cultural Treasures for their cultural significance and distinctive architecture. The list already includes the four (4) Baroque-style churches which have been recognized as World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): Church of the Immaculate Conception of San Agustin (Intramuros, Manila); Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion (Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur); Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva (Miag-ao, Iloilo); and the Church of San Agustín (Paoay, Ilocos Norte).
The NCCA is the country’s premiere culture and arts organization tasked with preserving and protecting the Philippines’ cultural heritage. Exhaustive research and documentation have been undertaken in conjunction with exhibits and public awareness campaigns in an effort to preserve the country’s unique and irreplaceable ecclesiastical monuments.
(*Take note that both the Church of Nuestra Señora De Los Desamparados in Sta. Ana and its Camarin de la Virgen, or the dressing room of the Virgin, have been declared as both national cultural treasures by the National Museum, the former through Presidential Decree 260 in 1973, and the latter in 2008. Read)