The History of Philippine Architecture
The history and culture of the Philippines are reflected in its architectural heritage, in the dwellings of its various peoples, in churches and mosques, and in the buildings that have risen in response to the demands of progress and the aspirations of the people.
The arrival of the Spaniards in 1571 brought in Antillian architecture. Though not specifically suited for the hot tropics, European architecture was transposed via Acapulco, Mexico into a uniquely Filipino style. The style traces its roots from the Antilles, in Central America rather than from mother Spain. The Christianization of the islands created the need to establish religious structures to support the growing number of religious organizations. Though they don't compare with those seen in Europe or in Latin America, Philippine colonial churches are unique in their own sense. Some of the best preserved colonial churches in the country are found in the Ilocos Regions, as well as those in the provinces of Laguna and Batangas, as well as the Visayan islands of Panay, Cebu and Bohol. These colonial churches were typically designed by anonymous friar-architects and built between 1600 and 1750. Most were initially constructed with bamboo and nipa, but the friars realized that to instill a sense of awe, as well as to caution against the terrible menace of fire and earthquake, more grandiose buildings had to be erected. In spite of technical and material limitations, they managed to erect massive structures that often took years, even decades to complete, that have survived to the present.
In time, the friars' task was taken over by Filipino and Chinese master-builders. These craftsmen have sometimes left their native stamp in the decorative motifs: tropical vegetation by Filipinos, lions and dragons by Chinese. The churches were built with an adjacent convento (priest house and office: also served as school, tribunal, prison and evacuation...
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