While the temples and stupas may be the architectural icons of much of Asia, the church is the arguably the Philippines’ most distinctive building. Tellingly, despite three hundred years of the Hispanic rule, the Filipinos opted to retain their indigenous names for places of worship, instead of the Spanish iglesia. Thus, simbáhan – “church” in much of central and southern Philippines – was chosen as the title of this book. From the Manila way of naming things, simbáhan accented in the middle syllable, it moves away towards the far and the unheard-of simbahán accented on the last syllable.
Simbahán introduces fifty sites chosen among the country’s most culturally or esthetically significant churches. Their descriptions are among the tidbits culled from anthropology, linguistics, geography, popular devotions, a bit of history (art history) and local culture.
Some churches in this book are brimming with devotees, such as Manaoag, Quiapo or Cebu; some are historic, such as the Manila Cathedral or Barasoain. A few have been awarded international status, such as Paoay and Miag-ao, while others have been given the country’s highest artistic honors, such as Malaueg, Guiuan or Jimenez. Some are easy to reach, like San Sebastian or Baclaran, but others challenge even the hardened traveler, such as Mahatao, Capul or Caraga. A few are really ancient, like San Agustin; some are audaciously modern, like Victorias. Each one effuses some facet of that cultural fusion of art, life and nature that could only blossom in the Philippines.
As the unabashedly Roman Catholic country celebrates 500 year of Christianity, Simbahán hopes to provoke a “wander-lust” among pilgrims and tourists – beyond the beaches and “fun” – to visit 50 remarkable monuments to the piety and artistry of the Filipinos.
Publication Date: 2020
Pages: 247 pp.
Size: 203.2 x 203.2mm.
About the author:
Regalado Trota José wrote Simbahan: Church Art in Colonial Philippines 1565-1898. It won the Philippine National Book Award in the Art Category in 1992.
He received the Cultural Center of the Philippines Centennial Award for the Arts in 1999. He was the youngest awardees among “100 outstanding Filipinos who have helped build the Filipino nation through arts and culture during the last 100 years,” and was the only representative for the Art History category.
Regalado Trota José has advocated for the study and protection of the cultural heritage of the Catholic Church in the Philippines since the 1980’s.
As a specialist in Philippine sacred art and architecture, he has collaborated with the Ayala Museum, the International Council for Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the University of the Philippines. He belonged to the Philippine Madrigal Singers, too. He was former Commissioner for Cultural Heritage of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
Currently, he is the archivist of the University of Santo Tomas and a faculty member of the UST Cultural Studies Heritage Program.About the illustrator:
Allan Jay Quesada is a photographer, a painter and an architect. He has the eye, the hand and the technical background that produced the inspired illustrations of Simbahán.
The kilometric list of awards for his works from his pre-teen years through his adolescence and school years of secondary and tertiary levels speaks volumes about the rapid progression and maturation of his art. This list consistently stretched up to his current professional status.
He won the Grand Prize of the Churches of the North Photo Competition in 2018 here. He won the Grand Prize in May 2019 in Madrid, Spain at the Climate Tracker and WHO’s Climate Change and Health Photo Competition.
He started watercolor painting at 5 years of age. His works are mostly landscapes, urban scenes and heritage structures. He looks up to Alvaro Castagnet and Joseph Zbukvic, his watercolor idols.
Allan gives free painting and rendering seminars in his alma mater, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM). His YouTube Channel is “Watercolors by Allan Jay Quesada”. He shares regular tutorials there.
He belongs to the International Watercolor Society of the Philippines. He has been a member of the United Architects of the Philippines- Manila Maharlika Chapter since 2011.