Viajes de Manila: Minore Basilica de San Sebastián, Quiapo, Manila

Assembled first in Belgium then disassembled and shipped to Manila in 8 steamships, it was set-up again in its present site like Lego blocks.

This long weekend, try visiting Quiapo, Manila and see for yourself Asia’s only all-steel, pre-fabricated church, the Basilica Minore de San Sebastián. The neo-gothic shrine to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is found in a swampy place formally known as Calumpang, on a lot donated by the pious couple Don Bernardino del Castillo and Doña María Enriquez.

Designed in the neo-gothic tradition, the church serves as a splendid venue for weddings.

Designed by Don Genaro Palacios, then Director of Public Works of the colonial government, the Basilica was the toast of Manila’s society when it was consecrated. Located at the end of R. Hidalgo, once Manila’s “millionaire’s row”, the all-steel church was a gem that featured the talents and skills of men of different cultural influences. The architect, Palacios, was a Spaniard. The steel sheets that compose the church were sourced from Belgium while the magnificent stained-glass windows were from Dr. Henri Oidtmann Company, a German firm.

The painted dome of the church is now obviously facing rust as the images are obviously being eaten away by the rust.

The interiors were painted by a group led by Don Lorenzo Rocha, head of the Academia de Dibujo, Pintura y Grabado. Joining him were famous artists Isabelo Tampinco and Félix Martínez. They lavished the church with exquisite trompe l’oeil and made the interiors seem like these were made of jasper and marble.

A stained glass window exquisitely portraying the Nativity of Our Lord. The stained glass windows ordered from Germany portray the the Joyful and Sorrowful mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary,

The church is currently facing terrible disintegration. Visiting the church and making a modest donation can be of great help in making known the many problems threatening the structure. The San Sebastián Basilica Conservation and Development Inc. is headed by a gracious and passionate lady, Ms. Tina Paterno.

A view of the illuminated retablo which features an image of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

* I wrote a more concise and informative article on this fable church for Metro Society’s Arts and Culture May issue.

A view of the Minor Basilica’s main aisle from the Coro

Led by Ms. Paterno, I was able to ascend into the bell towers and pass through the ceiling, which show that the church is pre-fabricated and made of steel.

About hechoayer

Things made yesterday still influence us until today. Things made today will influence us tomorrow. Things of the essence such as faith, culture, food, music and values should never disappear nor eroded by the times. Instead, these must be recorded, lived and shared. Something made yesterday - hecho ayer - can be tomorrow's saving grace. Never ignore the past.
Aside | This entry was posted in GUIA: TOURS, LA VIDA FILIPINA, OLD MANILA and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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