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Las Piñas Church

Las Piñas Church
St. Joseph Parish Church of Las Piñas
Las Piñas Church with the old convent to the right and St. Joseph's Academy, further right
Las Piñas Church is located in Metro Manila
Las Piñas Church
Las Piñas Church
Location in Metro Manila
Location P. Diego Cera Avenue
Las Piñas, Metro Manila
Country Philippines
Denomination Roman Catholic
Founded 1795
Founder(s) Father Diego Cera
Dedication Saint Joseph
Relics held Las Piñas Bamboo Organ
Events International Bamboo Organ Festival
Status Parish church
Functional status Active
Heritage designation National Historical Landmark
Designated July 15, 2013
Architect(s) Diego Cera
Architectural type Earthquake Baroque
Groundbreaking 1797
Completed 1819[1]
Length 110 feet (34 m)
Width 94 feet (29 m)
Nave width 70 feet (21 m)
Number of domes None
Materials Adobe (volcanic) stones
Parish Las Piñas
Diocese Roman Catholic Diocese of Parañaque
Province Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila
Priest(s) Rev. Msgr. Mario Josefino Martinez, PC, JCD
Organist(s) Armando Salarza

St. Joseph Parish Church, commonly known as the Las Piñas Bamboo Organ Church or simply Las Piñas Church, is the St. Joseph's Academy, a primary and secondary education school established in 1914.

The parish falls under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Parañaque. The parish priest of the Las Piñas church is Rev. Msgr. Mario Josefino Martinez, PC, JCD since July 1, 2011.[2]


  • History 1
    • Founding of the parish 1.1
  • Architectural History of Las Piñas Church 2
    • Initial construction 2.1
    • Evolution of architecture style 2.2
    • Newly-constructed stone church 2.3
      • 1829 Earthquakes 2.3.1
    • Restoration efforts of Fr. Cera 2.4
    • Second Restoration 2.5
  • Construction of Bamboo Organ 3
  • Establishment of St. Joseph's Academy 4
  • Recognition 5
    • Historical marker 5.1
  • Pastors 6
  • Significant Church Properties 7
  • See also 8
  • External links 9
  • References 10


Founding of the parish

On November 5, 1795, the Archbishop of Manila assigned Las Piñas, then a small town of farmers and fishermen, to the Augustinian Recollects to establish a new church. Fray Diego Cera de la Virgen del Carmen, a native of Spain, traveled from Mabalacat, Pampanga province and arrived on the town on the day after Christmas of 1795. Soon after, he started building the church made from adobe (volcanic) stones in the Earthquake Baroque architectural style.[1][3]

The new parish priest was a very gifted man. He was a natural scientist, bamboo and completed the instrument in 1824.[1]

Father Cera served as the parish priest of Las Piñas till May 15, 1832, when he could no longer perform his duties due to severe illness. He died on June 24, 1832, in Manila.[1]

Architectural History of Las Piñas Church

Initial construction

During that period, Las Piñas was a third class municipality. The natives were mostly fishermen, farmers, laborers, embroiderers, and others engaged in small businesses. Despite the condition of the parish, Fr. Cera set a goal to construct a temporary chapel and convent near the seashore made out of nipa and bamboo. The inhabitants, which were only 1200 before, saw his dedication and in return helped him in construction by means of manual labor or donating construction materials.

Evolution of architecture style

From perishable materials, the natives, together with Fr. Cera, aspired of establishing a stone church. It will serve as the inhabitant's protection from outsiders and natural calamities. In 1797, Fr. Cera bought the present site of the church for only one hundred and fifty pesos. There was an existing house standing at that period, which belonged to the Recollect estate. He initiated and drew architectural plans for the stone church. While the foundations were being laid, big store rooms were built to keep construction materials. After three years, Fr. Cera requested for polistas or townspeople to render the construction of the church. The request was granted and they were only given free food, equivalent to their compensation. In 1813, religious activities were held temporarily at the old chapel. in 1816, the church's roof was completed and painting of walls began. With the cooperation of all 300 families in the city, the stone church was finished in 1819. It resembles solemn simplicity - truly an Earthquake Baroque architectural style.

Newly-constructed stone church

The church had three naves, a dome, side altars with Romanesque-styled tables, crypt stones each with a replica of the "Nuestra Señora dela Consolacion" on one side and St. Augustine on the other, a baptistry with a stone altar, and two sacristies with two wall closets each and a table with six drawers in one, and a tower with three posts topped by a spire. An antique statue of St. Joseph and life-size statue of the dead Christ were also among the first religious objects owned by the parish.

1829 Earthquakes

The stone church and the parochial house was destroyed by three earthquakes in January 18, July 29, and September 30 of 1829. Don Jose Rueda, former Gobernadorcillo (1925) of the town of Las Piñas concisely described the damages wrought to the church. According to him, the two arches were cracked, two naves and walls were destroyed, and the whole roof of the church including its cross beams and its dome were ruined. All the wooden structures inside the church were left standing in the midst of the rain.

Restoration efforts of Fr. Cera

Fr. Cera did not only solidify his name in building the stone church, but also in terms of architectural restoration. According to the remarks of the Most Reverend Jose Sequi, Archbishop of Manila, after visiting Las Piñas Church on October 29, 1831, he was amazed by the restoration works. He expressed thus: "After I have seen the beautiful church of this place which was the work of the parish priest and also the very delicate adornments done in spite of the poverty of the town, and for his (Cera's) effort to procure the best for his church even without the help he needed, the Holy Mother Church is rendering unto him the utmost gratitude and concern."

Second Restoration

Between 1971 and 1975, with the help from the community and neighboring towns, the church was restored by Architect Francisco Mañosa, with Architect Ludwig Alvarez back to its 19th-century look. In December 3, 1972, the newly restored church was inaugurated. The original framework were retained - complementary additions were executed. It features capiz chandeliers, aged bricks, old statues, bamboo ceiling, a choir loft with antique balustrades of carved wood and potted native palms.

The event coincided with the return of the Bonn, Germany, reviving the organ back to its original state.

On May 9, 1975, the bamboo organ made its inaugural concert at the newly renovated church and surrounding buildings. [3]

Construction of Bamboo Organ

See Bamboo Organ

Establishment of St. Joseph's Academy

In 1914, Belgian missionaries Fr. Jose van Runenkelen and Fr. Victor Zaiel of Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae (CICM) established St. Joseph's School next to the church to foster literacy in the parish community. The school, which started as a grade school, eventually included secondary education and was renamed as St. Joseph's Academy.[4]


Historical marker

The church was designated as Historic Structure by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines with the placing of a historical marker in 1995.[5]

and as Historic Landmark[6] on July 15, 2013.


Below is the list of parish priests who served St. Joseph Church since the 1950s.
Name Years of Pastorship Present Assignment
Rev. Fr. Camilo Feys, CICM † 1958 to 1969
Rev. Fr. Mark Lesage, CICM 1969 to 1999 Retired
Rev. Msgr. Allen Aganon, PC, MA 1999 to 2004 Pastoral Director for Theologians, San Carlos Seminary, Makati City
Rev. Msgr. Albert Venus, PC 2004 to 2011 Parish Priest of St. James Parish Church, Ayala Alabang
Rev. Msgr. Mario Josefino Martinez, PC, JCD 2011–present

Saint Ezekiel Moreno,used to be the parish priest of the church during his Philippine mission.

Significant Church Properties

  • The local parish houses the world renowned Bamboo Organ.
  • A statue of its first parish priest, Fray Diego Cera de la Virgen del Carmen, can be found a few meters in front of its belfry. The statue was a commissioned work of National Artist for Sculpture, Napoleon Abueva. It was inaugurated on July 27, 1995, coinciding with the church's 200th founding anniversary.[7]

See also

External links

  • Music ecumenism marks 37th International Bamboo Organ Festival
  • Remembering the Baroque period in the 38th International Bamboo Organ Festival
  • Official Website of the Bamboo Organ Foundation
Bamboo Organ


  1. ^ a b c d "The Builder". The International Bamboo Organ Festival. Retrieved on 2011-01-28.
  2. ^ "New Clergy Assignments, July 1, 2011". Official Website of the Diocese of Parañaque. Retrieved on 2011-11-06.
  3. ^ a b "Bamboo Organ". Retrieved on 2011-11-06.
  4. ^ "History of St. Joseph's Academy". Official Website SJA. Retrieved on 2011-11-06.
  5. ^ "Simbahan ng Las Piñas". National Registry of Historic Sites and Structures of the Philippines. Retrieved on 2013-04-29.
  6. ^
  7. ^

LAs Piñas Bell that testifies to its township
Statue of Fray Diego Cera dela Virgen del CArmen
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