The fact there is not, and never has been a characteristically Philippine Architecture is not necessarily a reflection upon the genius of the Filipinos. There are many critics who contend with some degree of justification, that America has no distinct architecture and who accuse American architects of plagiarizing the ancient Greek, Roman and renaissance architectural forms.
The Greeks and the Romans borrowed the principle of the column and the lintel from the Egyptians, who first utilized it on an extensive architectural scale, and the Gothic architects borrowed the principle of the arch from the Romans, so it is evident that progress in architecture has not been made by the repudiation of early architectural discoveries but rather by the development and amplification of them.
The Philippines may go through a long period in which the adaptation of European and American science and technology shall be accomplished before the field or original research is reached and so in architecture - they must proceed far with he adaptation of foreign architectural styles and methods of construction before a distinctly characteristic Philippine style will appear. To evolve a new style, it is necessary to consider our cultural heritage and legitimate utilization of exotic architectural motives practically modified to conform to the customs of commercial and private life and to the existence of tropical heat and torrential rains.
Geography, religion, and time were responsible for the admixture of our ancient culture. Originally a part of the great continent of Asia, the Philippines became an archipelago of 7,100 islands after the post glacial period. Strategically located, it lies along the borders of the West Pacific and the South China Sea. Before the 16th century, it was an archipelago of independent kingdoms, intermittently invaded by Negritos, Indonesians, Proto-Malays, Malays and swept by the tide of the Southeast Asian Empires - the Shri-Vishaya, the Madjapahit, the Mohammedan-Malay Empire of Malacca, and the Chinese of the Mings.
Architecture is determined by various factors - the climate, the contour of the land, the materials at hand, religion, social, political and economic conditions, scientific and technological advancement. Simplifying, architecture is determined by the needs of the people in their time, the materials at hand and their aesthetic tastes.
Originally a part of the great Asiatic mainland, the Philippines became an archipelago of 7,110 islands and islets after the post glacial period. Some geologists asserted that the Philippines was of volcanic origin. The eruptions of sea volcanoes in remote times caused the emergence of the islands above the waters, and in this way the Philippines was born. Geographical scientists opined that the Philippines was a remnant of a vast continent in the Pacific which in prehistoric times, sank beneath the water like the fabled Atlantis. This lost Pacific continent was known as Mu or Lemuria, and its remnants included aside from the Philippines, Borneo, Celebes, the Malaccas, Java, Sumatra, the Carolines, Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti and other islands in the Pacific.
The most popularly accepted theory that the Philippines was once a part of Asia. During the post glacial period, the world's ice melted causing the level of the sun to rise; consequently, the lower region of the earth including the land bridges connecting Asia and the Philippines submerged, thus it came to pass that th Philippine was separated from Asia. This theory is supported by the following: (1) There is similarity of flora and fauna in Asia and the Philippines; (2) Similarity in their rock structures; (3) The existence of shallow water between the Philippines and Asia; (4) Presence of fore-deep at the eastern margin of the Philippines indicating that the archipelago was the edge of a continental platform projecting eastwardly from Asia.
The Philippine archipelago extends about 1152 miles along the North-South latitude and 688 miles along the West-East longitude. It is 75 miles south of Taiwan and 34 miles from North Borneo.
The Philippines is rich in latent wealth found in her vast lands of valleys, plains, hills and mountain ranges and the waters along her extensive coastlines. There is a great variety of timber, mineral land areas. Iron, copper, gold, tin, clay, limestones, manganese are mined in many parts of the country. The best timber products used for building and furniture making are narra, molave, yakal, dao, ipil, guijo, tanguile, palosapis and others found in extensive mountain ranges and hills. Palm and rattan are also abound. These are used form minor light construction.
The first Indonesians and Malays who came to the Philippines were animo-deists and therefore worshipped the sun as the source of life, the moon, the stars, the rainbow, the caves, volcanoes and large trees. They also respected certain animals like the sharks, crows, doves, rooster, lizards and iguanas. They invoked protection from evil from their ancestral spirits and in the concept of anitos and diwatas. these beliefs took form in the decorative symbols that they carved in their houses, sailboats, tools, weapons and costumes. The carcass of the carabao skull was also important symbol placed on top of the roof of the chief's house to signify that the community had a leader. The rooster was the symbol of the sun, force, courage, and fertility and was used on top of the roof finials as well as in the praws of sailboats. The lizard or iguana was used as a symbol of the reincarnation of a deity and they were carved and placed across the doors of th granaries to ward off the entrance of pests and thieves.
The second and third waves of Malays brought the concept of Bathala, the supreme god, creator of the universe and lord of all man.
Spanish domination which lasted from 1565 to 1989 brought about distinct changes in religious life and practices of the people. Christianity elevated the social position of women and its fundamental concern is the salvation of the soul for eternal life. Mohammedanism had a strong foothold in the southern islands. Other religions have been adapted by some minorities. All of these religions provided men set of ideals which carry them beyond their own immediate sphere. The various religions have developed different social principles. These ideals and principles are reflected in the different religious and sepulchral structures, - the church, the tombs and burial mounds.
Climate, topography and seismic conditions dictate a highly functional type of architecture. Torrential rains, typhoon, tidal waves, heat, humidity, earthquake are common occurrences in the Philippines. The main seasons in the Philippines are the dry-hot season from March to June; rainy-wet season from July to November. December to February experience mild climate. Torrential rains cause floods, washing out coastal towns and destroying forest and farmlands.
Before the coming of the Spaniards, the primitive non-Christian Filipinos lived in small communities called barangay ruled by a datu. They were ruled by local laws. the oldest source of law, it was believed, was the goddess "Lubluban". The laws were announced by village informer who went around the village at night to make announcements. The laws carried many subjects such as marriage, inheritance, loans, contracts, and descents. The Code of Kalantiaw and the Code of Maragtas were the oldest laws. They believed in auguries and superstitions. They had a system of alphabet based on the ancient Malayan alphabet. They had a system of writing using the bamboo pulp or the bark of a tree for writing. They practised medicine using herbs, juices and oil. They showed skill in the art of embalming. The tinuro, the dipa and the dankal were used as units of linear measure. the gatang was the unit of measure of capacity. The people mined and smelted their own iron ore and copper. They made beads, armlets and earrings. They established trade relations with China, siam, Cambodia, Annam, India and Japan.
The art of the Bagobos were confined to personal adornments of headgear, belts, armlets, sheaths and pouches. The maranaw craftsmanship and dexterity are evident in their brass work, the urns, rays and "gadurs" (vases). Among the Ifugaos, woodcarving in wooden representation of deities and idols was a common art. The Apayaos, Kalingas and Gaddangs practised dry-rice agriculture. The Mangyans subsisted on shifting agriculture, hunting and gathering. They also practised the art of basket weaving.
The earliest type of shelter was the lean to fashioned of leaves and propped up by a pole.
Trade relations with the neighboring countries influenced the enhancement of the Filipino culture. Our past political village system was of Indian caste. The chinese influenced greatly the economic life of the Filipinos. It appeared that iron, lead, gold and silver were derived by the early Filipinos from the chinese. Aside from the art of mining, the chinese introduced metallurgy and the manufacture of gunpowder, porcelain, pottery, gongs, umbrellas, etc. the Japanese taught the Filipinos how to manufacture agricultural implements, how to breed ducks and fishes for export. Weapons of warfare were manufactured under the direction of the Japanese.
Christianity came to the Philippines from Palestine and Rome, by way of Spain. Christianity - as Mohammedanism, Buddhism, and Hinduism have given us a solid basis for our morals and way of life.
Filipino Architecture is not indigenous. It is an admixture of the Muslim, Malayan, chinese and Spanish influences. the indigenous tribes of the Philippines which were quite a diverse group and of nomadic nature had little art of building to speak of. Their architectural art was revealed in their houses of nipa, cogon and bamboo. Although these simple buildings were not as enduring as the colossal pyramids of Egypt nor as magnificent as the grand temple of Greece, yet they were suitable to the tropical conditions of the islands.
Ancient Tagala-Malay Architecture. The Malays brought the concept of simple home building. they build houses of bamboo and wood thatched with grass or palm leaves or nipa, with a pair of steep gables, each gable end terminated with a motif of carabao skull head. The upper part of the gable wall was covered with brilliantly colored woven matting in a decorative manner. The house was raised on wooden posts or stilts about six feet above the ground, and with an open roofless verandah extending on the whole front of the house. the interior was one large room or open hall for all purposes save for a low partitioned cubicle used as the conjugal room of the household. There were little or no window openings because sections of the walls could be projected out when needed or drawn down for security from below the house. there was no need to decorate because their household equipment provided color and ornament such as floor mats, weapons, musical instruments, earthenware, silver and bronze wares and pottery. The Datu's house was larger than those of the other houses in the barangay. The roof consisted of four steep gables projected from a square plan, the hips intersecting at the center in the form of a cross and over this first roof another set of four smaller gables in exact replica of the first. At the apex of each gable was a finial in the form of a crocodile's head. On the ridge was a ridge pole surmounting carabao's skull. The blind wall of the gable was decorated with bamboo matting or splits in intricate design. The interior was made of a big, large hall, at the center of which was the dais where the datu would sit to receive guests during ceremonial rites. Adjoining this hall were the different rooms used for bedroom, dining, service, etc. The main entrance of the Datu's house faced the east with a large open court in front, at the center of which was planted the "tree of life" or totem pole superimposed with the carabao's skull, streamers and garlands. Beyond the house of the datu were the houses of minor chiefs and the nobility and the bachelor's houses for the soldiers serving as barracks. No females were allowed in these houses. The married ones lived in apartment houses.
The community was planned for security and self-sufficiency. Some were fortified and enclosed with palisaded walls, gates, watchtowers and sometimes surrounded with moats. Most of the towers were rectangular in plan with the main axis oriented towards East-West direction obviously influenced from the religious beliefs and respect for the rising and setting sun. At the center of the settlement was the Datu's house and at some distance away were the four granaries located with the corresponding corners of the Datu's house. The ancestral shrine was located facing the west as represented by the setting sun which was also the place reserved for the shrine of the god of death. Fruit trees, herbs, spices and vegetables were cultivated within the settlement, agricultural crops were raised int eh adjoining valleys and hillsides outside the palisaded settlement and work animals and fowls were gathered at night and quartered below each house.
The rich decorative designs called okir were carved on posts, beams, doorways, fascias and others. The most developed phase of the Muslim-filipino decorative art commonly known as "Maranaw art" was executed in bamboo, wood, silver, bronze and other alleys. The "sarimanok" was an important decorative abstract design, the symbolism of which was inherited from our Malays or Tagala as the symbol of the rooster. The colors frequently used in full chromatic scale were the three primaries: red, blue and yellow and the secondaries: purple, green and orange.
The Indonesians who came six thousand years ago introduced the grass-covered house with rounded roofs. This type was originally sunk one meter into the ground, raised later to the ground level, and still later, constructed on stilts. The malay immigrants who came later introduced the squarish type of structure supported by four posts and capped by a pyramidal roof. the sumatran-type of dwellings of wood, provided with steep, graceful roof and decorated with intricate carvings of wood are now found in Lanao, Cotabato and other southern provinces of Mindanao.
Terraces were evident building skill of the Ifugaos. The most extensive of these are three thousand year old Rice Terraces in Banawe, Mountain Priovince. It covers an area of four hundred square kilometers, and it is estimated that the whole terraces can encircle half-way around the world if they are placed end to end, or eight times as long as the Great Wall of China, both considered as among those wonders of the world.
Spanish Influence on Architecture. The Philippines as the "military and ecclesiastical outpost of Spain in the Orient, became the fertile ground for new forms of structures devoted mainly to the spiritual and defensive of the colony. The 335 years of Spanish colonization brought about distinct changes in architecture.
Since the Spaniards came to the Philippines by conquest, and later to spread Christianity, the first structures which they erected were churches and fortresses. The building of a church marked the beginning of community planning. Wherever a church was erected, the people tried to live within its vicinity. The churches which generally of simplified Baroque, Byzantine or Romanesque style, were built by Spanish friars, who without formal training as architects or engineers, supervised their erection by using pictures of churches from their native country, especially those from the province of Andalucia, Spain. These churches were constructed by Chinese and Filipino workmen under the efficient supervision of the friars. This procedure resulted in huge edifices with he combination of Oriental and Occidental features of Hindu, Chinese, Indo-chinese, Romanesque, Baroque and even Gothic influences. Sometimes, they were decorated with crude and clumsy details of spontaneous and unprecedented character. Built of soft, porous materials, these edifices have through decades absorbed enough moisture and vegetable matter to produce considerably surface vegetation resulting in charming colour and picturesqueness quite alleviating their gross proportion and clumsy details. They formed important feature of the landscape of a town, depicting impressive ecclesiastical monument.
In plan the churches were either rectangular of cruciform with simple nave and aisles, baptistry and belfry. The thick walls were made of adobe and brick interstices mortared with lime, honey and sand. The thick walls were supported by massive buttresses for protection against earthquakes. Between buttresses and the walls were interspersed with small window openings. the facades were embellished with classical details, niches, low reliefs.
Spanish colonial churches were erected in many towns throughout the Philippines. At the clause of the Spanish regime there were 2,778 churches scattered throughout the country, and they present a variety of architectural styles, from Greco-Romano to Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic, Moorish and Gothic. These churches became foremost patron of architecture, sculpture and painting. They provide logical setting for the development of the art of sculpture and painting, the former for religious statuary and architectural ornamentation, and the latter for murals and decorative ornaments for the ceilings, walls, pendentives and soffit of the domes. Their proportions, scales and details were either modified or adulterated depending on the availability of a design, "maestro de obras" or sculptor assigned to undertake the work.
Significant examples of churches built by the Spanish missionaries are: San Agustin church, considered as the oldest church in Manila (1599-1606 by Bro. Antonio Herrera), the church of Sto. Nino, Cebu, solid Romanesque (1565). The San Agustin church was able to resist the earthquakes of 1645, 1754, 1852, 1863, and 1880. It was the only church that escaped the destructive Pacific War in 1942. Notable churches outside of Manila are the Church of Taal, Batangas by Fr. Marcos Anton; Lipa, Batangas, by Fr. Bonito Varas; Church of Tuguegarao, Cagayan by Fr. Anton Lebato; Church of Baclayon, Bohol, by Fr. Juan de Torres. The old Sto. Domingo Church built in Intramuros by Fr. Diego Soria when destroyed was rebuilt by Filipino architect Felix Roxas. The Manila Cathedral had its beginning from bamboo and nipa construction was the first parish church in Manila in 1571. After its destruction in 1593, 1599 it was replaced by stone edifice in 1610 by Archbishop Diego Vasquez de Mercado. Since then it suffered several destructions caused by earthquakes. The fifth edifice, (the actual cathedral before the Pacific War) was built by architects Luciano Olivar, Vicente Serrano and Eduardo Navarro, and solemnly blessed in 1869. The architecture is a composite of Byzantine and Romanesque. Above its lofty dome is a cross which is the reference of all astronomical altitudes of the Archipelago. The Barasoin Church of Malolos was the scene of promulgation of the Philippine Constitution by President Aguinaldo of the first Philippine Republic on June 23, 1899. This church is of Romanesque style. There are many churches which are of historical importance.
The early friars proved that they were practical architects and engineers. As a defense against Moro pirates they constructed forts and fortresses. The first fort was constructed by Fr, Antonio Sedeno who arrived in Manila in 1581. He began and planned the construction of the "Real Fuerza de Santiago (Fort Santiago) at the mouth of Pasig River as it was conceived by Legaspi. With the walls of Intramuros, this was completed in 1872. Fort Pilar in Zamboanga was constructed by Fr. Melchor de Veyra. Fr. Francisco Duco built fortresses at Iligan and Misamis. The first stone pier was built in Guiuan, Samar, by Fr. Pedro Monasterio. Early stone bridges were built in Bulacan by Fr. Ignacio Manzanarez in Catarman, Cebu, a sea-wall was built by Fr. Antonio Fuertes.
The first artesian wells were built in Betis, Pampanga by Fr. Manuel Camanes. The water system in Manila (now MWSS) had its beginning from the water works constructed by Fr. Juan Peguero in 1686. The first irrigation system was constructed in Tanay, Rizal by Fr. Jose Delgado.
The Spanish missionaries founded and organized schools (nautical and commerce, fine arts, agriculture, trades, home arts, surveying, medicine). The early schools were San Agustin College, Iloilo; San Alberto College, Dagupan, Pangasinan; San Juan de Letran, Manila and Colegio de Sto. Tomas, Manila.
In domestic architecture, the mansion type for the well-to-do families was given importance. The first floor was usually of adobe stone while the second floor was of wooden structure with tiled roofs. The main door was the main decorative treatment and was treated with pilasters capped with cornice and pediment. The heavy wooden doors were of two sashes made of heavy timber planks studded with wrought iron or bronze nails, knockers, sockets and heavy cross bars. The street windows of the first floor were elevated from the sill (ventanillas). The open interior court or "patio" was a popular feature of the house plan. The gate entrance hallway was called "zaguan" which led to the patio. Open terraces with balustrades surrounded the patio on the second floor. The upper exterior walls were treated with paneled wood partitions, sliding windows of shell sashes and wood louvres above the sill, sliding "ventanillas" below the sill and protected from without by heavy, wide projecting caves.
At the closing years of Spanish regime, some Filipino engineers and architects were in the practice of the profession after they returned from Europe where they studied architecture and engineering. The first Filipino architects were Felix Roxas and Diego Hervas. The early works of the former were the reconstruction of the Sto. Domingo Church, the Church of St. Ignacio and the massive Catholic church of Bacoor, Cavite. He reconstructed the Ayuntamiento (Marble Hall) formerly the Philippine Senate, the palatial residences at San Miguel, Manila for Filipino aristocracy, the Roxas Family, the Paternos, the Valdez', the Aranetas and the Hidalgos. Diego Hervas' works included the St. Paul's Hospital, Assumption Convent, Oriente Building, Monte de Piedad. The later architect was Julio de la Rosa.
Influence of European Building Technique. Steel and concrete construction was introduced in the mid-80s as a result of European and American Influence.
The first steel structures in the Philippines were:
The introduction of reinforced concrete in the Philippines was in the 1900s and its use in the construction of the Masonic Temple, the first multi-structure in Escolta, Manila.
|Name of Local Edifice||A r c h i t e c t|
|Quiapo Church||Juan Nakpil|
|Sta. Cruz Church||Gregorio Gutierrez|
|San Sebastian Church||Genaro O. Palacio|
|Sto. Domingo Church||Jose Zaragoza|
|Manila Cathedral||Fernando Ocampo|
|Baclaran Church||Cesar H. Concio|
|Lourdes Church||Luis Araneta|
|Christ The King Church||Fr. Frederick Linzenbach|
|San Agustin Church||Bro. Antonio Herrera|
|St. Jude Church||Fr. Lyn|
|San Miguel Pro-Cathedral||Juan Nakpil|
|Antipolo Cathedral||Fernando Ocampo|
|Victoria’s Church||Antonin Raymond|
|Antipolo Church (Circular)||Leandro Locsin|
|U. P. Protestant Chapel||Cesar H. Concio|
|U. S. T. Chapel||Fernando Ocampo|
|St. Andrew’s Church (Circular)||Leandro Locsin|
|San Beda Chapel||Andres Luna de San Pedro|
|Iglesia Ni Kristo Church in San Juan||Juan Nakpil|
|Sanctuario de San Antonio||Manalac Construction|
|Mount Carmel Church||Max Vicente|
|Legislative Building||Antonio Toledo|
|Manila City Hall||Antonio Toledo|
|Agrigulture and Finance Building||Antonio Toledo|
|Manila Post Office||Arellano and Mapua|
|Malacanang Palace||William Parsons|
|Old Manila Hotel||Willam Parsons|
|Rizal Memorial Sports Complex||Juan Arellano|
|Philippine General Hospital||Tomas Mapua|
|Old Metropolitan Theatre||Juan Arellano|
|Quezon Institute Hospital||Juan Nakpil|
|Old Veterans Memorial Building||Federico Illustre|
|Quezon City Hall||Ruperto Gaite|
|Development Bank of the Philippines||Carlos Arguelles|
|Philippine National Bank (Escolta)||Carlos Arguelles|
|Department of Foreign Affairs||Crecenciano de Castro|
|Social Security System Building in Quezon City||Juan Nakpil|
|U. S. Embassy Building in Manila||A. L. Aydelott and Associates|
|Bonifacio Monument||Juan Nakpil and Tolentino|
|Rizal Monument||Richard Kissling|
|Quezon Memorial||Federico Illustre|
|Fort Santiago||Fr. Antonio Dendon|
|Cultural Centre of the Philippines||Leandro Locsin|
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Copyright © 1997
Most recent revision Saturday, August 02, 1997