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Church of Saint William the Hermit (Laoag, province of Ilocos Norte)

       Built in 1700 under the direction of the Augustinian order. After its destruction by earthquake in 1843, the structure was completely restored. The over embellishment of the simple architectural form demonstrates the Filipino passion for surface decoration. Inspired by fancy rather than from the design discipline of the baroque style, Corinthian-inspired capitals crown a series of overscaled pilasters. Capped by urn-shaped filials, rosettes and acanthus leaves weave around the pilasters. Above the row of Corinthian columns, a row of pseudo-Doric pilasters anchored to the architrave are cut to allow the grafting of a third set of oversized pilasters. In apparent disregard of architectural principles, the delightful facade is made even more naïf with the exaggerated play of light and shadow on its overscaled surfaces.

Church of Saint Raymond Peñafort (Rizal, province of Cagayan)

       Built in the 1650’s by newly Christianized Kalinga from the Cordillera mountains directed by the Dominican order, the church is sited along a river that crosses the foothills of the Cordillera mountain range. This is one of the few remaining structures of rubble construction with fine decoration applied only to the facade. The solid squatness of the ensemble accentuated by high windows and its bell tower with melon-like finials suggest the appearance of a fortress.

Church of San Matias (Tumauini, province of Isabela)

       Built in 1783 under the direction of Domingo Forto, a Spanish Dominican priest, this church is the country’s foremost example of an ecclesiastical baroque structure built totally of bricks. Bricks of different styles were specially made to for this church. Specially made bands of decorative bricks are inserted within expanses of plain brick to create surfaces of delicate patterns of the facade. Finials crown the wavy silhouette of the facade. Its squat cylindrical bell-tower (c. 1805) is unique in Philippine baroque architecture.

Church of Our Lady of the Gate (Daraga, province of Albay)

       Built in the 18th century under the direction of the Franciscan order, the church is dramatically perched on a hill to protect it from the cycles of destruction wrought by Mayon Volcano. It stylistically shares with Miag-ao (Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva) an individualistic, naïf but extremely delightful application of highly exaggerated baroque elements: solomonic columns, undulating cornices, flattened bas-reliefs of saints.

Church of the Immaculate Concepcion (Guiuan, province of Samar)

       Built in the 18th century under the direction of the Jesuits, additions were made by the Recollects when they took over the church in the 19th century. This structure is an excellent example “fortress baroque.” The church forms one side of the fort. Its exuberantly carved doors are also the doors of the fort. The richness of the interior is in total contrast to the squat, bulky and plain outline of the church exterior. Richly carved and highly polychromed retablos are the focal points of the apse and transept. The most notable aspect of the church is the shell and coral mosaic swags that outline the clerestory and the baptisery.

Church of Our Lady of Patrocinio (Boljo-on, province of Cebu)

       Built in 1599 under the direction of the Augistinians, jurisdiction over the church was transferred to the Jesuits in 1737. Conceived as s fortress-church standing on a hill overlooking the sea with the feature of providing safety for the parishioners against periodic Moro raids, the exterior facade of this structure with its watch tower-like bell tower is perhaps the most austere in the chain of southern Cebuano churches and watch towers, particularly in the neighboring towns of Argao and Dalaguete. Constructed of locally quarried coralstone and topped with a roof of terra cotta tiles, the architectural volumes are kept pure, simple, practically unadorned, in direct contrast with its sumptuous interior.

Church of Saint Jerome (Morong, province of Rizal)

       Built in 1615 under the direction of the Franciscans, the original church was extensively renovated in 1850-52 when the Indio master-builder, Bartolome Palatino, was commissioned to renovate the facade and build a bell tower. The lines of the facade sweep outwards, away from the flanks of the structure, accentuating the center of the facade where the principal entrance is situated. Pairs of engaged columns frame the openings at the center of each of the three facade levels. Pedestals, deep-set cornices and finely carved scrollwork and floral relief add to the vertical thrust of the composition that is crowned with the vertical thrust of an octagonal bell tower.

Church of San Francisco de Asis (Siquijor, province of Negros Oriental)

       Built in the 19th century under the direction of Secular priests, the church is constructed of coralstone blocks abundant in the Visayas. The simple structure is long and squat. Its severe, box-like nave connects to a plain facade. Niches flank the main entrance, naïf pilasters accentuate three unaligned windows on the facade that evokes an architectural pediment.

About the Author:
Augusto F. Villalon is one of the country’s leading experts on heritage conservation. Aside from being the principal architect of A. Villalon Associates, he has served as technical advisor for UNESCO and UNIDO. He is a member of the Committee on Monuments and Sites of the NCCA and the Philippine World Heritage Committee secretariat. He is also a columnist for Philippine Daily Inquirer.