August 3, 2013

0362, 0782 PHILIPPINES (National Capital Region / Ilocos Region / Western Visayas) - Baroque Churches of the Philippines (UNESCO WHS)

0362 Paoay Church

Posted on 18.10.2012, 03.08.2013
As I said here with reference to the Philippines, "from Spaniards have remained Christianity and the name". Regarding the Christianizing of the native population, it began with the arrival of Magellan in 1521, and the Spaniards proved to be very effective, so that today Philippines is one of two predominantly Roman Catholic nations in Asia (the other being East Timor), about 93% of the population being Christian.

In parallel with the conversion of the indigenous were built many churches, "in the European style", but not a few of them suffered major destructions due to earthquakes in the area. For the Church as institution, this didn't mean only material damage, but also a loss of image and credibility, so the churchs builders had to make major structural changes. So appeared a new architectural style, EarthquakeBaroque, used also in Guatemala and even in Lisbon, characterized by more robust proportions, smaller height, and thicker and heavily buttresses.
The Philippine National Commission for Culture and the Arts has designated the conservation of more than 30 such churches from Spanish-era, four of them being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Aside from these four churches, there is another one inscribed in the UNESCO WHS List, the Vigan Cathedral (Historic Town of Vigan), about which I wrote here. San Agustin Church in Paoay is the epitome of earthquake-resistant churches in the Ilocos region, and one of the most striking edifices in the country.

The church was started by the Augustinian Fr. Antonio Estavillo in 1694, and was completed in 1710, being rededicated in 1896, three years before the ceasing of Spanish rule in the country. The materials used were a mixture of coral stone (at the lower level) and bricks (at the upper levels). The mortar was as exotic as the style of the church itself. Felipe Leon wrote in The Filipino Nation that the "stucco was said to have been made by mixing sand and lime [with] sugarcane juice, which were boiled with mango leaves, leather, and rice straw for two nights."

The buttresses have steps, probably to facilitate the access to the roof. The facade is divided vertically by square pilasters, but also horizontally by stringed cornices. At the apex is a niche, while the otherwise stark plaster finish is embellished with crenallations, niches, rosettes, and the Augustinian coat-of-arms. Adjacent to the facade is a three-storey coral bell tower constructed separately from the church building on the right side resembling a pagoda. It was in 1793 when the cornerstone of the bell tower was laid.

The Miagao Church, or Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva, was built in 1786 also by Spanish Augustinian missionaries, to defend the town against raids by the Moros. It therefore has thick walls and, reportedly, secret passages. On the front facade, which is flanked by two watchtower belfries, one can see the unique blending of Spanish and native influences. Its central feature is a large coconut tree (symbolizing the biblical tree of life) which reaches almost to the apex.

About the stamps
On the postcard0362
The stamps, depicting Picasso Trigger (1p) and Triton Trumphet (10p), are part of a huge set of definitive stamps, Marine Biodiversity, appeared in successive series since 2010, about which I wrote here.
On the postcard 0782
The first two stamps - depicting Marmorated Cone / Conus Marmoreus (2p), respectively Picasso Trigger / Rhinecanthus aculeatus (1p) - are part of a huge set of definitive stamps, named Marine Biodiversity, about which I wrote here.

The last stamp, issued on January 14, 2013 and dedicated to the Valentine's Day, is named Mahal Kita (I Love You), and was designed by Victorino Z. Serevo and Rey Anthony D. Alejandro. It is a stylized drawing of a couple holding hands, wearing traditional Filipino costumes who profess their love for each other. The man hands in a bouquet of flowers while the woman holds a love letter.

Paoay Church - Wikipedia
Paoay Church - Heritage Conservation Society
Baroque Churches of the Philippines - UNESCO official site
Sender 0362: Toni Rose Antonio (direct swap)
Sent from City of San Fernando (Luzon / Philippines), on 28.02.2012
Photo: Fats Fabon
Sender 0782: Jay Betito (direct swap)
Sent from Naga (Cebu / Philippines), on 17.07.2013
Photo: Vik Penas

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